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Rising star on a dream run (sarah michelle gellar mention)

Sarah Le Marquand

Thursday 17 August 2006, by Webmaster

IN A profession known to thrive on pat comparisons when heralding a new arrival, it’s almost a weekly occurrence to hear about the "next" Nicole or Cate.

Yet cliches notwithstanding, there’s no mistaking the uncanny resemblance that superstar-in-the-making Teresa Palmer bears to fellow Australian thespian Naomi Watts.

It’s not just the long blonde hair and soulful expression - in 2:37, her feature film debut, Palmer delivers a haunting, vulnerable performance reminiscent of a younger Watts.

It’s a comparison the20-year-old from Adelaide has heard before, particularly from colleagues who’ve shared the screen with her likeness.

"Jamie Bell, who worked with Naomi on King Kong, tells me a lot that I remind him of her and I’m like, ’Oh my God that’s such a great compliment’ because I love her and I love all the choices she’s made," Palmer says.

"She’s so determined and a brilliant actress, I definitely look up to her. She’s got that blockbuster status but then she does independent films as well. She chooses films based on the script rather than the pay cheque."

But while Watts’ lengthy sentence in the Hollywood wilderness as she awaited that elusive big break has been well-documented, Palmer’s foray into the industry has been astonishingly rapid.

With nothing more than the occasional bit part and television commercial to her credit, Palmer scored a major role in 2:37, an unapologetically confronting examination of teen depression and suicide. While filming 2:37 in South Australia last year, she successfully auditioned to play Daniel Radcliffe’s (aka Harry Potter) love interest in December Boys - an announcement that sparked the ire of adolescent fans.

"They actually believed that because we were going to be in a film together we might get married," Palmer recalls of the online fury among young girls.

"Their little hearts were broken. I was talking to Daniel’s dad on set and I told him I’d been Googling my name and all these terrible things had been coming up and he said, ’Never Google your name ever again because it will only get worse’.

"I know we’ve got to bethick-skinned, but I don’t want to listen to what people have to say."

At the beginning of the year, Palmer followed in the footsteps of a million hopefuls before her in making the pilgrimage to Los Angeles. "I think I auditioned for eight films in a week-and-a-half and I ended up getting an offer on three of them," she says, her voice shaking with disbelief. "It was such a dream, I still can’t believe it."

Having filmed the upcoming Grudge 2 with Sarah Michelle Gellar in Tokyo, Palmer returned to LA, where she is set to begin production on the big-budget trilogy Jumper later this month.

Despite the whirlwind schedule of the past 18 months, it’s only now she is reaping the fruits of her labour, with the film that started it all - 2:37 - opening in Australia this week.

Starring a cast of young, inexperienced actors, and directed by filmmaking novice Murali K. Thalluri, 2:37 has already exceeded expectations by making it into official selection at the Cannes Film Festival.

"We always knew it was something special and it was a story that needed to be told, but I had no idea this was going to be the response," Palmer says of the film, which follows six high-school students during a single, yet fateful, day.

Her big-screen debut proved a baptism of fire for Palmer, with the script demanding herself and co-star Frank Sweet shoot a graphic rape scene.

"Frank and I were both extremely nervous before that," she admits. "I was freaking out and I know Frank got on the phone to his dad (actor Gary Sweet) and was like, ’Help, help, help’. We sat down and talked about it and we were very comfortable with each other, but when we got in there the characters just sort of took over.

"I didn’t feel as if I was acting it out, it actually was really scary and they were real tears. I felt a bit traumatised afterwards. But when I saw it on the screen I was so happy that we let ourselves go and we didn’t hold back."