“We filmed in Port Douglas, at the Thala Beach Nature Reserve,” Melina Vidler tells us over the phone when we chat about her supporting role in new Australian film Kidnapped. “You know what, it felt more like a holiday to me than work,” she fesses up about the production that was one of the first in the country to call action during Covid.
Kidnapped follows couple Brad (Todd Lasance) and Savannah (Claire van der Boom) as they go on a long overdue holiday to Australia with their young daughter. After reticently putting their child in an isolated resort’s kids’ club, she mysteriously disappears, forcing an increasingly desperate search for the parents and the local police. Vidler plays a resort employee, and along with the couple next door, a young maintenance worker with a shady past, and a tour guide, is one of the suspects for the possible kidnapping.
“Even when we were working, we were on these gorgeous locations by the beach, and we would walk past bloody goannas as we’re on our way to work. That was definitely one of the best bases that I’ve had for filming, actually being able to film where I’m living.”
A born and bred Queenslander, Vidler’s big break was landing a regular role on 800 Words virtually straight out of drama school.
“I was a shy, quiet kid and quite insecure,” she tells us about the initial desire to act. “I would just go into my own world where I’d create these storylines in my head where I would be these different characters. I wouldn’t be the quiet, shy little girl, I would be the hero of the story. When I got into high school, I naturally did the drama course and I just really loved that. And there’d be this part of me that I would only have become extroverted when I was on stage.”
Before Kidnapped, Vidler shot American indie Summer Night in Atlanta, Georgia for first time director (long time actor) Joseph Cross. Like Kidnapped, she landed the role without auditioning, after just chatting with Cross; Vidler’s down-to-earth personality, wide-eyed enthusiasm and striking looks certainly make for a compelling combination.
“You can get a fricking mansion in Newnan for 300 grand, like what is that?” she says about the small town where they shot Summer Night. “Like a mansion, a seven-bedroom, two story beautiful home! But then again, you’re not near anything.”
After Kidnapped, Vidler landed a small part in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis project, also shot in Queensland.
“That was pretty fucking cool, like super fucking cool,” she says. “All I can say is Tom Hanks looks fricking incredible. Like, it’s going to be a potentially Oscar winning film, I’m so grateful to have been part of it. I have a talking part. It was a scene with Elvis in his Las Vegas suites. I got to be up close and personal with Austin [Butler, who plays Elvis] and Baz.”
Is making films rather than television a conscious decision for Vidler? “No, I’m just really enjoying doing both. I would actually prefer to venture back into TV, so there’s a bit more longevity in that one character, because you can do a film in one month. It’s never really been my focus on one or the other, but I do know that I prefer film and TV to theater because theater scares the shit out of me.
“Even considering moving to Sydney for a little bit, I won’t lie,” she says.
“There are films happening in Queensland, the Gold Coast, I want to go to Sydney and maybe try my hand at a TV series down there instead.”
So that’s the plan, unless Melina Vidler is offered another role in a film being shot on a 5-star Queensland resort, of course.
Kidnapped is in cinemas from March 18 2021