Leila George is starring in a new blockbuster movie, thanks to advice from her famous parents.

Mortal Engines, the newly released blockbuster from Peter Jackson, could best be described as a post-apocalyptic action film with a very welcome twist.

The movie, based on the best-selling book of the same name, focuses on a futuristic, steampunk version of London, which is now a giant machine striving to survive in a world that is running out of resources.

The action kicks off when Tom (Robert Sheehan), a Londoner who has never stepped foot outside of his travelling hometown, gets his first taste of the outside world when he attempts to stop masked assassin Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) from killing Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), a powerful London man she blames for her mother’s murder.

The twist in this story is that, unlike many other big-screen blockbusters, many from Jackson himself, the film is predominately led by smart, powerful and intricately written female characters.

There is Hester Shaw, who along with being the film’s heroine in a world where resources are low, people are at war and smaller cities are being swallowed up by bigger ones, also has a series of scars across her face. It’s an incredibly welcome change to see on the big screen, especially in a time when there is an immense push to end the trope of movie villains being the only ones to have facial differences.

Mortal Engines also features Anna Fang (played by Jihae), a badass pilot and leader of the Anti-Traction League, a resistance group banding against the moving cities devouring Earth’s resources.

Rounding out the trio is Katherine Valentine (played by Leila George), the whip-smart daughter of Thaddeus Valentine and one of London’s elite. She’s a young woman who begins to piece together the sinister situation happening behind-the-scene of London’s welcoming facade.

Mortal Engines is Leila’s first big blockbuster film, a project she said she was drawn to because of the prevalence of female characters and also because of the deep, emotional relationship her character has with her father.

Family was always on the forefront of her mind during filming, thanks to the fact that both her parents have long and illustrious careers in the entertainment industry. Her father, Vincent D’Onofrio, is well-know from his roles in TV shows such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Daredevil. Her mother is Greta Scacchi, an Italian-Australian actress known for her roles in films Presumed Innocent and Looking for Alibrandi. 

“Katherine is the daughter of Thaddeus Valentine, who is the villain of the movie,” the 26-year-old actress told Mamamia.“Her story arc is one of great strength because at the start of the movie we find her in a moment of a young person’s life when they are being woken up to the realities of the world. She is also being woken up to the reality of who her father is and that’s a storyline that really drew me to the project in the first place. There are also all these strong women in the film and it’s really cool to see that.”


“This movie is unlike anything you’ve seen before, the world is different to anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s high action and high tension all the way through with some lovely backstories for all the characters and some very emotional scenes throughout the film. It’s just a unique world, and hopefully, it’s just the start of something very cool,” she added.

"Mortal Engines is a post-apocalyptic action film with a very welcome twist." Source: Universal.

Amid the extensive action sequences and high-concept combat scenes featured in Mortal Engines, Leila's more personally dramatic scenes alongside Hugo Weaving provide grounding points of emotion throughout the movie.

"It was such an honour to play Hugo’s daughter and we actually got the chance to meet up before filming," she said. "So we talked about our father and daughter relationship and the backstory of our characters. That was really exciting because I’ve never been able to do that before. To meet up with an actor and have those conversations beforehand.

"Also, I really need to clarify that this movie is actually post-post-apocalypse.

"So we’ve already gone past the post-apocalyptic stage and this is what’s left of the world, and that’s what makes it different from other films. As to why we have a fascination with these movies, it’s because we just don’t know what is going to happen in the future or what our world will be. It's similar to that idea of why people also have a real fascination with what happens after you die, but we just don’t know what the future holds. It just allows for so much creative freedom and that’s what filmmakers always want to tap into."


When it comes to her movie-making success and acting career, Leila definitely says that it was her parent's advice, rather than their names, that helped pave her way to success.

"Mum prepared me for the industry, Dad prepared me for the work," she said when asked about how her parents have helped to shape her career.

"My mum always told me 'success is when preparation meets opportunity' and my dad, he has always told me to trust my instincts. He actually teaches an acting class, and I’ve taken that class and he has taught me a lot of lessons in that way. He’s been a real teacher to me, while my mum has taught me more about what it's actually like to work in the industry."

Mortal Engines is opening in cinemas Australia-wide on Thursday 6 December. It is rated M.

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