How Odessa Young Transformed Herself Into 'The Daughter'

4 June 2015 | 11:08 am | Danielle O'Donohue

"It's A Leap Of Faith And You Just Have To Take It."

Simon Stone

Simon Stone

It takes a lot of moxie to turn up to a film set as a 16-year-old and out act a cast featuring Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neil and Miranda Otto but that’s precisely what relative newcomer Odessa Young has achieved with her performance in Simon Stone’s debut feature, The 

Based on Stone’s theatrical adaptation of the Ibsen play The Wild Duck, at first glance The Daughter appears to be about two friends, Oliver (played by acclaimed Australian theatre actor Ewen Leslie) and Christian (American actor Paul Schneider), reunited when Christian returns home for his father’s wedding, but under Stone’s assured direction, it is Young who becomes the beating heart of this moving tale.

Stone admits he didn’t know the power of Young’s performance until he’d captured it on film.

“You absolutely don’t. It’s a leap of faith and you just have to take it.

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"We were probably about a week out of starting the film and we still hadn’t found the girl and I was shitting myself, of course."

“She got recommended to me. She’s in the right age bracket and she’s done a bit of work but while she was the right age she was just way too knowing and wise and self-confident, essentially already being a twenty-something, which to a certain extent when you’re an actress is what you have to do. But it wasn’t very helpful to me.

“We did a lot of auditions of various people and we were probably about a week out of starting the film and we still hadn’t found the girl and I was shitting myself, of course. Then Odessa’s agent rang and insisted we see her again.

“We called her in, Ewen (Leslie) was there for the audition and I’d really set out quite clearly in an email what I needed to get a glimpse of and she came in and she’d completely transformed herself. What’s incredible about Odessa and what the extraordinary feat that Odessa achieved was not just to deliver something that she could access magically inside of herself.”

Young plays the daughter of the title. Living in an isolated NSW logging town, Hedvig is caught in the crossfire when Christian’s return from America uncovers some long-held secrets. Sam Neil, playing Hedvig’s damaged grandfather Walter, and Leslie also stand out.

While the film is heavy going, Leslie provides some early levity by spouting an endless stream of teen-speak in a charming effort to mortify his teenage daughter.

“Ewen was making sure he did whatever he could to embarrass Odessa,” Stone explains, “so that it felt like a genuine relationship. The relationship should feel weirdly like two teenagers hanging out with each other and it just happens that one of them is the father of the other one. That’s kind of what’s wonderful about the journey through the film. He always treats her like an equal, which can be a wonderful thing and can be a dangerous thing.”