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Venice's Next Big Thing: 'The Son' star Zen McGrath on dealing with the emotional intensity of drama

Zen McGrath admits that among the props that slipped out of the scene of The Son are many photos of him young Selfie on the beach with smiling Hugh Jackman .

“I took it because it looked interesting,” he said. “I just thought, I need that myself.”

The Son, world premiere in Venice, follow-up Florian Zeller ‘s Oscar-winning directorial debut Father (and another of his stage play an adaptation), which sees McGrath play Nicholas, a -year-old New Yorker whose deteriorating mental health begins to tear him deep Loving but miserable incompetent family including father (Jackman), mother (Laura Dern) and stepmother (Vanessa Kirby), whose depression is very Blame it in large part on the arrival of his stepmother and the divorce of his parents.

The young Australian actor has just been 18 picked by Zeller for Zoom during his lockdown Playing his key role, the two met only three days before filming began in London.

But, cleverly stitched photos of young McGrath (now 20) and Jackman, though Very unique memorabilia and also provides some fascinating representations of his career to date.

Because not long after the original photo was taken, McGrath was just 10 old, He got his first role and got the wheels spinning.

As he explained, in the early 2010 McGrath family — neuroscientist mother Heidi, anesthesiologist Master Craig, eldest brother Gully (short for Gulliver), second brother Zen (“It’s a big secret, but that’s my second name, my name is actually Augustus”) and the youngest brother Winta (actually Hudson Winta McGrath) – moved from their hometown of Melbourne to Birmingham, UK, mainly for his mum’s research.

By then, Gully – four years his senior – had appeared in a number of Australian TV shows and films, and his auditions and roles had only been in England Just got bigger (in Hugo , Shadow and Lincoln will appear soon after).

“But one day, he got an independent film about a brother and his little sister,” McGrath said in Melbourne (they moved back a few years later). ). “But I felt that the film was delayed and he couldn’t do it, so he suggested that my brother and I audition for this role.”

Never acted before, But the producer was very impressed with the siblings, and not only chose Zen as the elder brother, but also changed the gender of the younger sister to the role of Winta (three years younger).

“So my brother and I did our first project together and were like brothers,” he said, adding, just to complicate things , they called Winta’s character Gully (“I’m confused”).

The film in question is Aloft , written/directed by Claudia Llose by Jennifer A grim hypnotic drama directed by Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy. While it may not have ignited the box office, it did get all five McGraths in 2014 world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival (“I had a lot of fun there, it was really fun,” says Zen). Soon after, he will be represented by the London Artists Rights Group.

Over the next few years, a number of characters will appear, most notably a recurring part in USA Networks’ Jerusalem-based miniseries Dig and, once back in Australia, family comedy Red Dog: True Blood . But McGrath then decided to take a break and focus on school.

“I’m interested in science and physics and want to get grades. I just want to…choose,” he said. “My mum and dad always said, always do what you love, but leave it open.”

So, unless there’s a small cameo role in an Australian comedy series Utopia During his final two years of high school, McGrath gave up acting to immerse himself in his education. “But when Mom was done with that and basically asked me if I wanted to do auditions again, I said, yes, of course, I can too. But I just thought it was going to be a small thing.”

About four months later, McGrath had signed up for a degree in science at the University of Melbourne to show up for son . He sent a selfie tape he made with his father.

“It was funny because my dad was playing Laura. It was a very emotional scene,” he said. A week later, he got an email asking him to call back, then Zeller’s Zoom. Another week later, McGrath got another email, one more shocking. This time it told him that he was the “front runner” for the role.

“So I zoomed again with Florian – the second time I saw him – he basically wanted to confirm that was what I wanted to do , and talked about roles and possible exposure, explaining that it wasn’t easy,” he said. “It was weird and almost felt like a prank because I actually got hired through Zoom without ever seeing anyone officially. Another two months passed and I didn’t see anyone officially.”

In London (the entire New York apartment is built into one studio), McGrath took voice coaching sessions to improve his American accent and was introduced to Australian Jackman Fellow (again via video call). He also invested in his own research, first immediately watching Father (he said it was “such a beautiful movie”) and then trying to dig into his skin features.

“Because of the shady nature of the character, I talked to a lot of people about my personal struggles, just what Nicholas was going through and how to empathize with him.”

But even with his research, McGrath wasn’t ready for the intensity of playing someone with clinical depression day in and day out. In between takes, he tried to break up characters, soften emotions, move props to play tricks, and persuade some assistant directors to speak Australian slang. “Because it was exhausting to be in that headspace for so long.”

At the end of each day, if he had time, he would go for a walk in London or hang out with his father (he accompany him all the way) watching TV, or playing Minecraft online with his friends. “I played a lot,” he said. “Although it’s not very fair since I can only play for a few hours a night, so I’ll be back and my friends will build or destroy everything on my base.”

At times, McGrath remained in Nicholas’ troubled character due to the demands of filming, especially when a particularly brutal scene was filmed in the hospital over two days.

“Because I had to be in such a stressful and anxious state, I would sit there staring at the ground between shots, not distracted trying to phase everything out ,”He says. “It was much more difficult to get in and out of that state, so I was only in there for a few hours.”

Despite being set in the city, McGrath was only filmed in New York about approx. a week. But he was there long enough to be introduced to Anthony Hopkins (who won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his father , and was introduced to

Son A small but pivotal scene by Zeller). While the two don’t share the screen, the director invited his young star to watch Jackman filming with the Welsh icon of upstate New York.

“I remember being a little nervous seeing him because when he first looked at me his eyes kind of pierced my soul,” he recalls , adding that Hopkins would later impress him and Jackman with his best Australian accent.

McGrath caught by Hopkins in son claiming he was ‘incredible’ on camera A few minutes will likely be “in focus”. While a lot of attention may be on father’s Oscar-winning lead returning to Zeller’s highly anticipated sophomore film, and the brilliant knockout performances of the film’s top trio, Much of the applause should be reserved for its titular star, whose fragile, vulnerable portrayal of a teenager in despair is a central pillar of the show.

For the first time since Berlin 2010, the McGrath family are planning to walk the red carpet together The Son world premiere in Venice (they had already seen the film at a special screening in Melbourne, which Zen said showed his dad less – he One step with him every time – tears).

Siblings are now at different stages of their careers. Gully has recently completed several Australian shows and is now planning to move to London full time to get closer to the action, while Winta – seen in HBO Max’s Raised by Wolves – Coming to the end of high school and auditions. As for Zen – he says having two brothers who are also in the industry helps create a “self-sustaining ecosystem” – his experience on The Son rekindled his passion for acting.

“The whole thing is a dream project. I totally understand it might not always be the case, but Florian, the rest of the cast and the whole The crew were all very friendly and welcoming. It was really rewarding for me to be involved in events like this,” he said. “I will definitely pursue acting now and try to do something similar again, especially when I have the opportunity. I really like it.”

Science degree Currently “postponed”, McGrath has had several auditions — “and a couple of close encounters” — because of the son’s package. Once the film moves to Toronto, its sure inevitable awards season picks up pace and everything could change.

But no matter what happens, and where the career of this exciting young actor takes him, he will always have that amazing picture of himself on the beach with Jackman Happy doctored photos. “No one else takes my pleasure from having it.”



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