By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 6, 2011 at 3:19AM
Though it finally hit theaters this weekend, "Take Me Home Tonight" had a bumpy road there, sitting on the shelf for a few years due to the heavy drug content in the film. However, actor and executive producer Topher Grace fought for the film, mega-producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer from Imagine Entertainment came in and encouraged Grace to keep the cut he wanted and he got the final boost of approval from Ryan Kavanaugh, the CEO of Relativity Media who released the movie. But the wait hasn't hurt the film as it boasts an array of talent -- Grace, Anna Farris, Chris Pratt among the ensemble -- whose profile has only gone up in the intervening time. Also making big strides since the movie wrapped is Teresa Palmer who plays Tori, the object of affection that powers the film. We recently spoke with the actress and she revealed that for her first big Hollywood film, she was just trying to keep up with her co-stars.
"I was surrounded by comedic geniuses in the movie," Palmer said. "And I got to play an amazing character, but she wasn't really the funny one in the film and it meant that I had to really lift my game and be on my toes because all of these guys -- Dan [Fogler] and Anna and Topher -- they would throw unscripted humor at me. And I just think it ended up making me be a better actor because I had to be prepared for anything."
Going off script was something new for the young actress, but with the support of her cast mates she got through it. "This is one my very first big films. I had no idea what I was doing," Palmer admitted. "I felt like I was thrown in the deep end and I just had to try so hard to play the character well and not let anyone know that I was scared and petrified. I remember the first two weeks I was convinced I was going to get fired. So it was pretty traumatic for the first week but everyone was so lovely and made me feel at home. I just watched what they were doing and I took their lead and then the rest is history."
Because Palmer was born in 1986, she needed a bit of help in getting a feel of the zeitgeist of the decade and was well prepared. "I did a lot of study into that time period," Palmer said about her preparation. "Topher Grace, he got together a little '80s package for all of us and it [had] some John Hughes movies. I had a Phoebe Cates poster in mine. It was fun. It was a bit crazy and wild. I got to watch all those movies straight for three days and I think that really helped get my head into that time period."
"It was really fun. I got to live vicariously through my character because I never got to experience the '80s for myself," she added. "I loved playing around with crazy high hair and the amazing dance moves and listening to all the '80s songs. It seemed like such a foreign world to me but it was very very fun to be immersed in that era."
Interestingly for the Aussie actress, the concept of a year-end blowout with everyone in your high school is one that she found to be distinctly American. "I think Australia and America have a lot of similarities culturally but our school system is very different," Palmer noted. "I certainly don't remember -- even now seven years out of school -- we don't really have group parties with everyone we went to high school with. It's just not the way it works and [that's] an American thing. But with us, we have one or two friends from high school but we never do big group gatherings. I think in the movie Kyle's party is an annual thing and it would be so fun to do that. But in Australia, I don't think that's such a big deal, getting together after school is finished and still having crazy parties."
"Take Me Home Tonight" revolves around Matt (Grace) who tries to woo Tori (Palmer) but is lying about his job prospects in order to get her attention. It engages the question of whether or not Tori would even be interested in Matt if he was simply a video store jockey and Palmer admits the movie has some hard truths.
"I don't think she would have paid him as much attention if he just worked at Suncoast Video. And it's that same question that girls are asked, 'If he wasn't good looking would you pay him any attention?' And, for the most part, no. I think it's such a hard reality to face, but you want to be attracted to a person," Palmer said about her character. "But for Tori to entertain the attraction initially, [she sees] he's a nice guy but also that he's got his stuff together and he's in the same business as her and she connects with him on that level. But if he had just worked at Suncoast... I'm sure she would have looked him over."
It's been a busy few years for Palmer and while most North American audiences will likely recognize her from films like "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "I Am Number Four," she got her start in the horror flick "Wolf Creek" and further established her career in indie minded fare like "2:37" and "The December Boys." It's been a while since Palmer wasn't on a big budget set but that recently changed. The actress recently went back home to film "Say Nothing" -- which also co-stars Joel Edgerton -- and the upcoming movie is one she's definitely excited about.
"It's directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith," Palmer told us about the film. "It's such a great concept. Two couples go away on this ill-fated trip to Cambodia and one us doesn't return. The filmmaker, Kieran Darcy-Smith is an incredible director....[he's part] of the Blue Tongue film group and they've produced amazing movies like 'The Square' and 'Animal Kingdom'... They're a great group of people and I'm really excited by that film. I got to go back to Australia and shoot on a low budget and go and do a dramatic role again which has been really nice, I haven't been able to do that in a few years."
"I play the sister of the lead girl Felicity [Price]," she explained about her role. "And she's free spirited, she's very fun and a little bit crazy and spontaneous. But her boyfriend goes missing in Cambodia and they have to piece the puzzle back together and figure out what happened to him."
And vacillating between films big and small, Palmer has learned the value of working in both. "It's always very different doing big budget films [than] doing smaller movies, but I like both of them equally for different reasons," the actress elaborated. "On a big budget film you have more time to get your work [done] and you can spend a lot more time on a thing, whereas you're on a bit of time crunch with these smaller movies. And I like that pressure it puts on you and I also like that feeling of collaboration when you're on a little movie. In my experience so far it seems that when you're shooting a smaller film you have more leeway with the character in the way they look and the feel of the story and I love really immersing myself in that and being a part of process."
But the actress isn't just sitting by waiting for these opportunities to come along. As we previously reported, Palmer talked to us about "Track Town," a film she's written (along with her producing partner Tahyna Tozzi) and hopes to direct. So, lots on the horizon for Palmer who is making the most of what she's learned so far on film sets and she eyes establishing herself as a triple threat, actress/writer/director.
"Take Me Home Tonight" is now in theaters.