Essie Davis is having a moment. With a host of hot credits on her CV (think the The Slap, The Matrix sequels, Australia and The Babadook) and an upcoming role on Game of Thrones, the 46-year-old Tassie-born actress is fast becoming one of Australia’s most-talked about talents.
Yet of all Essie’s characters, there’s one that global audiences have truly fallen for: The impossibly glamorous gun-toting, plane-flying, dagger-throwing, man-loving, PI Phryne Fisher. For this, her starring role in the third season of ABC’s hugely successful 1920’s period drama Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Essie has again earned a swag of Logies nominations.
She spoke to Mamamia ahead of Sunday night’s awards.
How are you feeling about the Logie Awards this year?
"I'm incredibly flattered to be nominated and thrilled that Phryne has such a massive fan base. I’m not expecting to win anything, but I am looking forward to going and enjoying myself."
So, no acceptance speeches prepared then?
"No, no. I find that when I prepare a speech I never win. So…[laughs]"
If it’s not going to be you, who deserves to take out the golden gong?
"I think Lee Lin Chin should win."
You’re up for three awards on Sunday. Which means the most to you?
"It’s quite wonderful to be nominated for all three. I guess Best Actress and the Gold Logie - the most popular person on television - are an incredible indication of how much pleasure Phryne Fisher gives everyone. And the most outstanding actress category is a lovely nod from my peers. So, I'm deeply flattered."
Last year, Mamamia went to the Logies and all the celebs loved us. (Post continues after video.)
Do awards matter to you?
"Probably more than they should. Look, it's incredibly lovely to be nominated for them and, when you are, it’s even better to win. [laughs]"
Any other trophies you’d like to have on your shelf?
"Oh yeah! I’d like to have all of them... she says with a tyrannical laugh. Of course I’d love to have them all. I would love to have all of the major American ones, and the major British ones, and the major French ones and the major Australian ones. Of course I would."
So were you that little girl rehearsing your Oscars speech into the mirror?
"I used to watch Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers movies and think 'I want to be as good and as famous as Fred Astair'. But I haven’t actually been wishing for that fame since I saw quite early on how destructive and how invasive it can be. But, yes, I always wanted to be the best actor in the world.”
Let's take a trip down memory lane and look at all the past Logies dresses. (Post continues after gallery.)
Given that discomfort you have with fame, how do feel about high-profile events like The Logies?
"I’m terrible at them. Once the red carpet is over, I’m okay. Everyone says it’s so much fun to get dressed up, but really it's a nightmare. A nightmare! I'm much better as a character pulling off looking fabulous than I am as myself.”
Given all the fabulous outfits you have to wear on Miss Fisher’s, that’s a little surprising.
“I know! I really just should pretend to be Phrynee on Sunday night and I'll be fine.”
Are there other aspects of her personality that you’d like to have?
"In a way, a lot of her has rubbed off on me. Sometimes her bravado is something I have to pull out of myself. It is part of me, of course. She is all part of me. It’s just a matter of how often you are feeling that fabulous and confident and indestructible.”
What do you think makes Phrynee so appealing to the viewing public?
“She’s wonder woman, really. She grew up poor then she inherited great wealth, so she understands what it’s like to have nothing. She’s incredibly independent. She drives her own car, has her own house. She’s an advocate for the underdog and a fighter for women’s rights. She can throw a dagger, she can shoot a gun. You know, she’s brave and sassy and sexy. She’s the kind of woman that, I think, every woman would like to be and every man would like to be with.”
It must be so much fun going to work every day and slipping into Phryne’s shoes.
“It is! It’s really hard work. But it’s also really joyful and we have a lot of fun making it together.”
You’ve got a rather different role coming up. You’re going to be playing an actress in a travelling theatre troupe in Game of Thrones. Can you tell us what that entails?
“I can’t. I’d have to kill you. [laughs] But the scale of the production is phenomenal. Where we have 14 extras for a crowded football stadium on Fisher’s, we had 400 extras for three days for an outdoor theatre performance. For one scene. It’s enormously different.”
More on Essie's Game of Thrones role here.
“I have a film coming up later this year called Mindhorn, which is a comedy with Julian Barratt from The Mighty Boosh. It’s about an actor who once played a character in a television detective series who had a bionic eye that could see the truth. I play his ex-co-star and ex-lover. It’s very, very silly and wonderful.And I’m working on another series that I’m not allowed to talk about just yet.”
It sounds like this must be a pretty exciting time for you.
"Yeah, it is. It is exciting. I feel very, very fortunate."