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Teresa Palmer Talks "Torpedo"-ing Christian Bale On Terrence Malick's 'Knight Of Cups'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 3, 2013 at 12:48PM

As you know, there are approximately five thousand actors who have walked onto the set and in front of a camera for Terrence Malick's next effort "Knight Of Cups," a drama set against the backdrop of the movie industry, one of two features he's prepping along with a still untitled flick that takes place amongst the Austin music scene. And one of the talents that got to spend some time with Malick on 'Cups' was rising Australian actress Teresa Palmer, who was last seen onscreen in the zombie rom-com "Warm Bodies" and features in the upcoming thriller "Wish You Were Here." And like many who have collaborated with the press shy filmmaker, she wholeheartedly enjoyed the experience.
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As you know, there are approximately five thousand actors who have walked onto the set and in front of a camera for Terrence Malick's next effort "Knight Of Cups," a drama set against the backdrop of the movie industry, one of two features he's prepping along with a still untitled flick that takes place amongst the Austin music scene. And one of the talents that got to spend some time with Malick on 'Cups' was rising Australian actress Teresa Palmer, who was last seen onscreen in the zombie rom-com "Warm Bodies" and features in the upcoming thriller "Wish You Were Here." And like many who have collaborated with the press shy filmmaker, she wholeheartedly enjoyed the experience.

Last week, we had the pleasure of chatting with Palmer about 'Wish' but of course, had to inquire about her work on Malick's film. And what started as a schedule that wasn't supposed to last longer than a day, turned into something much more, with Palmer being utilized to shake up the story and characters in the film.

"I was only supposed to be there for one morning and...they call it 'torpedo' when a character in a cast comes and gets thrown into the scene and the other actor doesn’t know that character is going to be put in the scene. That’s just the little experiment they do," Palmer explained. "So the end of when I was supposed to go home, Terence asked me, 'What are you doing the rest of the day?' I was like 'Nothing, nothing at all.'  And then he was like, 'Would you like to stay and we’ll make you a torpedo.' So I ended up torpedoing into these scenes with Christian Bale and then that continued on for the next eight days. So I was brought back and this character became a bigger character and I got to improvise and it was just a funny, sassy character that’s different from a lot of the other characters that I’ve seen in some of Terry’s past films."

And while Palmer had plenty of opportunity to have fun with the part, and add some unpredictability to the shoot, that's not to say there wasn't a script she could look at. "I had never read a script; I think there was a script available, but as I far as I know most of the actors hadn’t read the script," she said. "I didn’t know who my character was until the night before. I only knew what she did and what her name was, but I knew nothing about her way, or her spirit, or her vibe, or who she was." 

"The audition process is an interview. It’s an interview about yourself, talking about your own experiences and then it’s improvising; you read back a little scene and you don’t get to keep the sides, you just improvise from what you read earlier," she continued. "Terry was looking for a specific essence to be injected into the movie, so I ended up playing a version of myself and he trusted me and I kind of winged it and came up with things; it was so fascinating to see how much he encouraged that kind of art and I loved that experience, it was so inspiring to me. He’s my favorite director so I feel incredibly blessed that I have an opportunity to work with him."

Of course, whether or not Palmer makes the final cut is anybody's guess, but just having the opportunity is enough for her. "I don’t know either way...I don’t know anything," she explained about the future of her part in the movie. "But having just been on-set with him, and I can bear witness to the way he works, it’s enough for me. I don’t need anymore. I was saying to my agent, at the time, I would die happy knowing that my career was great because I got to work with Terence Malick."  

Stay tuned for more from our conversation with Teresa Palmer later this week. "Wish You Were Here" opens on June 7th.

This article is related to: Teresa Palmer, Knight Of Cups, Terrence Malick


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