Watching a dramatic crime series can be a nail-biting experience from placing clues together in your mind to surprise reveals. HBO’s new miniseries, Mare of Easttown, effortlessly combines an expletive sense of humor with dark subject matter. Created by Brad Ingelsby (Our Friend, The Way Back) and starring Kate Winslet, Jean Smart, Evan Peters and Angourie Rice, the series follows Mare, a detective played by Winslet, as she investigates a murder in a small Pennsylvania town. Winslet’s on-screen daughter Siobhan is played by 20-year-old Australian newcomer Angourie Rice, a seemingly responsible teenager, dealing with the usual high school issues. “I wasn’t cool in high school,” Rice explains during a recent interview. “I had friends but I didn’t go to my first high school party until my senior year. I just wasn’t invited. Or if I was, I was away working.”
As a child actress, Rice got her start with roles in films like These Final Hours and The Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. Her high school experience wasn’t typical since she was a professional actress during the awkward teenage years. “I felt like growing up, I was quite immature or uncomfortable with teenager things like going to parties and talking to people because I didn’t really know how to do that and I felt so nervous. And I still feel that.” Rice says that she really relates to the two different sides of her Mare of Easttown character, the mature and responsible side coupled with the uncomfortable teenage angst. “I’m still trying to reconcile those two parts of my life: my professional working life and my personal life. I think everyone goes through that whether you work in film or not.”
Growing up on film and television sets as a child, Rice always had her mom or a chaperone by her side. When she turned 18 prior to starting filming Mare of Easttown, Rice found herself living alone in Philadelphia for the first time. “My mom came with me for the first few weeks to get me settled in which was really nice. But after she left, I was by myself and it posed quite a few challenges,” Rice says. “But I think it was really good for me. It was a very formative time in my life. So formative, in fact, that my sister rolls her eyes any time I bring it up,” she says with a laugh.
The three generations of women featured in Mare of Easttown (Winslet, Rice and Jean Smart) bring such hysterical lightness to the series from the vulgar bickering to the snide sarcasm. “Jean is so funny in the show and she was funny on set as well. Some of the stuff that made it into the show, she just said randomly and it’s brilliant,” Rice says of Smart who plays her character’s grandmother. Of her on-screen mother played by the Academy Award-winning Winslet, Rice says she was nothing short of an inspiration on set. “The main thing I learned from Kate was just by watching her perform and watching her be on set. She made friends with everyone and knew everyone’s names. I think you can gauge so much about a person and what they’re like just by seeing how they interact with other people, especially in a professional environment. I really admire the way that Kate made everyone feel so welcome and part of a big team.”
Drawing inspiration from the fierce dedication and unwavering energy she witnessed while filming Mare of Easttown, Rice says she has a very tangible goal for herself this year—and it’s not a professional one. “I want to be able to do five chin ups by the end of 2021. And I’m on track!”