They say that 90% of directing a movie is in the casting, and with Bethany Whitmore in the leading role of Greta in Girl Asleep, director Rosemary Myers and her team struck gold. “One day, I just got a call, saying, ‘You’ve got an audition’, so I prepared for it, and tried really hard, because as soon as I heard what it was about, I was very eager. It was my dream role,” Whitmore tells us over the phone from her Melbourne home.
It was a dream role because it was a lead in an indie film, Greta was of a similar age, and Girl Asleep was set in the 1970s! “I was a bit nervous, because before I went in, a girl came out really happy, so I thought ‘Oh no, I must have missed it!’ But I went in anyway. I did my best, and a few weeks later, I got another call. They said that I had the role, so I was really ecstatic!
“As well as acting, I really like fashion designing,” Whitmore continues, telling FilmInk about her dream of running a fashion label on the side. “When I’m designing things, I like to take inspiration from the ‘70s. I like the way the clothes sat on women then, and I love the colours, and the vibrant designs. I love the shapes.”
Sixteen-year-old Bethany Whitmore could very well be this country’s best kept secret. After landing her first role when she was just six to play Debra Messing’s daughter in 2007’s Australia-shot mini-series, The Starter Wife, Bethany went back to school and took on parts in shorts, and TV series such as Killing Time, Rush and Winners & Losers. Most recently, she featured in The Family Law. Whitmore also played the red-headed daughter in Mental and even voiced the Young Mary in Mary & Max.
But it’s Girl Asleep’s Greta that provides Bethany with a true showcase of her talents. “Greta was turning fifteen, and at that time, I was just turning fifteen,” says Whitmore. “I was going through the same experiences that she was going through. I’ll be honest, I still played with my toys until I was probably her age. And I did play with plastic horses. Every fifteen-year-old girl goes through it. Coming of age, and finding yourself, can be a struggle, and Greta and I both really held onto our childhood. That can be quite difficult, and I could relate to the struggle that she was going through.”
Was it a struggle to play her first leading role? “I just didn’t want to let the team down,” answers Whitmore in her unassuming way. “I was a bit nervous about that the whole time. I was like, ‘I’ve got to do a good job because a lot of people are investing all their time and their efforts into this. I’ve got to pull my weight.’ As a lead, because it’s my first time, I found it a struggle, but I gave it my all! And hopefully it paid off!”
On the eve of the film’s release, would she like her school mates to see Girl Asleep? “I would be excited because it’s a chance for them to see what I’ve been doing, and why I’ve been away,” Whitmore replies. “It would be great for them to step into my world, and my experiences, and to appreciate what I do.”
When we ask Bethany Whitmore what her favourite part of the filming process was, her answer offers an insight into this promising young actress. It might also see her going well beyond just acting. “The whole thing was really cool, because it was an experimental film as well,” the actress replies. “We were experimenting with new angles and new ways of filming. It was fascinating to see how Andy [Commis, DOP] would go around getting the shots. But the coolest thing that I got to shoot was the scene in the forest, because we actually shot it all in slow motion. I had to move my body in slow motion, and speak in slow motion, and then they would speed it up. That’s how it got that kooky affect.”
Girl Asleep is released in cinemas on September 8. For our interview with the film’s director, Rosemary Myers, click here.