“It was really exciting, because we’re all sci-fi nuts,” says young actress, Teagan Croft, of scoring a major role in the Australian science fiction film, SFv1: The Osiris Child. “We like Doctor Who, and fantasy. Star Wars is great, The Lord Of The Rings, perfect. We’re pretty much nerds in my house. For Father’s Day, I got my Dad an encyclopedia of Marvel superheroes. He’s a nerd all round.”
This cozy, mutual nerds father-daughter relationship is far different from the one that Teagan Croft shares onscreen with her movie dad, played by Daniel MacPherson. “It was a bit of an awkward relationship on set,” reveals the actress, who makes her big screen debut after appearing on that venerable TV training ground, Home And Away. But don’t worry: it wasn’t because the one-time Neighbours star and Dancing With The Stars host wasn’t a nice guy, but rather because the film’s director, Shane Abbess (the mastermind behind the low budget Aussie sci-fi wonders, Gabriel and Infini), is famed for stoking up an air of intensity and emotional authenticity on his sets. “It was a bit of a method acting set, where we had to react to the characters even off camera,” Croft says. “I could kind of be like, half my character and half Teagan, but mostly you’d try and stay in the zone, the whole time.”
Set in the future in a time of interplanetary colonisation, SFv1: The Osiris Child tracks an unlikely pair – drifter Sy Lombrok (Kellan Lutz) and hardened pilot, Lt. Kane Sommerville (MacPherson) who works for off-world military contractor, Exor – who must race against the clock to prevent an impending global crisis, while battling their own personal demons. Alongside a strong cast (Temuera Morrison, Rachel Griffiths, Isabel Lucas, Luke Ford), Teagan Croft features as Indi Sommerville, the long estranged daughter of MacPherson’s uncertain military man. “She wants to bond with her Dad, but she’s been living with her Mum,” Croft – who is currently in Year Eight at school – explains. “Her meeting with her father isn’t what she expected. It’s not like a buddy-buddy relationship; they’re almost strangers. Initially, she doesn’t know him. She wants to know him, and she wants to bond, but he’s kind of distant.”
No mere typical tag-along daughter character, Teagan Croft’s Indi forms one of the film’s major plot hinges, and Shane Abbess didn’t hesitate in placing the actress within his usual creative framework, encouraging his actors to improvise and really find their characters. It started right from the audition. “We didn’t really stick to the script, and I was really liking how we did improvisation,” Croft reveals of her first meeting with Shane Abbess and Daniel MacPherson. “We did a couple of runs with the normal script with Daniel and then we went into improvisation, just doing random stuff. Daniel would say something completely off the script, and I’d have to react in my character, which really helped to flesh things out. It helped Shane to see who was right for the role, and if that’s what he wanted the character to be like. On set, it was the same. Something would come up, and we’d keep following it, but we’d have to find a way to come back to the script.”
Though the relatively low budget (for such a high concept) SFv1: The Osiris Child was new for Croft (“All the sets were so amazing that you didn’t really have to imagine”), the world of acting and performance is not. “My parents [both former actors] met in the theatre, and my aunties are actresses, so we hear all sorts of accents around the house,” Croft says. “It runs in the family. We all act. We do a nativity play every year on my grandparents’ property in Dural [36km north-west of Sydney]. Sometimes I’m the lead angel, Angel Gabriella. It’s pretty much a self-directing thing until I yell out, ‘Shush!’ I’m the oldest grandchild. This is my area of expertise,” Croft laughs.
Already practiced in the down-to-earth positives of working in film (“I’d miss out on a lot of homework, which thankfully I don’t think is a bad thing, but I still had to finish my assignments during it, so I didn’t have a lot of free time, which is good, because in film, it’s more tiring having free time than when you don’t”), Teagan Croft is just happy to be acting, and doesn’t mind whether it’s on stage or on camera. “I don’t really have a preference,” she says. “They’ve both got ups and downs. With the stage, you can act bigger and you don’t have to worry about looking unrealistic, because you’ve got to project to the back of the audience. With film, people can see the emotions in your face rather than in your body. But I don’t really have a preference. It’s all acting. I’d always play pretending games at school, even when I was little.”
Main photo by Sean O’Reilly.