Search

Essie Davis: "I want to win an Oscar! Among many other things"

She's won awards. Starred in monster TV shows. And played one of the great detectives in Miss Phryne Fisher. The delightful Essie Davis discusses her remarkable career 

Essie Davis is something of a legend. The Australian actress is best known as the brilliant Phryne Fisher in the global phenomenon that is Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. (Seriously, watch Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. You'll get addicted. And fall in love with Essie Davies.) 

However Davis has plenty more on her CV. The Babadook is one of the best horror films of the past decade. A small series called Game of Thrones. And now The Murmuring for Netflix, part of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. 

Oh, and what's that on her mantlepiece? A Laurence Olivier Award for her Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire at the National. Strong. 

What else remains on the Davis checklist? "Well, I want to win an Oscar!" she tells us. "Amongst many other things."

We can't blame the woman for aiming high. With a career like hers, how could she not? 

Life

What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?

I am really excited about The Murmuring which I made with Jennifer Kent (who I made The Babadook with) which has just come out on Netflix. I am really proud of it. It was lovely working with Jennifer again and Andrew Lincoln was the most delightful actor. I think it’s a really deep, profound piece of work that is also spooky and it’s a pleasure to be a part of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. I’m excited to watch it all.

I’ve got a bunch of films in development that I’m working on the scripts that I’m excited by; some in Australia, some in New Zealand, some in England. I also have a very exciting audition tomorrow that’s an incredibly exciting project so fingers crossed for that one!

I am also extremely excited about One Day, a project I worked on this year for Netflix. It’s a brilliant novel by David Nicholls that is both heart-breaking and hilarious; a beautiful romantic story and, I think, perfectly cast and the scripts are all fantastic so I think that will be something that everyone will love.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

I’m proud of a lot of the work that I have done. I’m really super proud that I won a Laurence Olivier award for my work in the theatre on the London stage at the National Theatre – playing Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire to Glenn Close’s Blanche.

I’m super proud of the work I’ve done with Justin Kurzel. Nitram is an incredibly important film that everyone should see, as is The Justice of Bunny King which is currently streaming and is the voice of a very unheard group of women in the world. I think it is an exciting and wonderful story and one that I am very proud to be a part of.

What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?

Well, I want to win an Oscar! Among many other things.

I want to work with so many wonderful directors; Susanne Bier, Ruben Östlund, Lars von Trier, Peter Weir, Paul Thomas Anderson. I would also LOVE to work with Simon McBurney and Theatre de Complicité who are probably the most outstanding theatre company I have had the chance to witness the work of.

Outside of your family, who is / was your biggest inspiration?

That’s so hard. Lots of people have inspired me. I have to say I had the most fabulous primary school librarian, Berenice Eastman, and primary school principal, Barry Davies, who encouraged performance and love of theatre and love of words and singing. They were two wonderful, inspiring people in my primary school years. My fabulous year 11/12 drama teacher, Chris Thomas, was also a great support.

On a professional level, Judy Davis, was a massive inspiration. Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson: just outstanding, knockout, stunning actors.

Tell us something nobody knows about you…

I guess that something most people don’t know about me is that I’m actually a redhead. Some people will know that, of course, because I started my career as a redhead but I’ve always have to dye it brunette for a million jobs and then I just gave up going back.

Essie Davies

Style

What’s your favourite item of clothing – and what does it mean to you?

My boots. I bought this stunning pair of boots when I was travelling through Los Angeles one time and I love them so much. They were all I could afford and I would have got them in two colours and I still regret that I didn’t.

These great, tall, Max Mara knee-high brown boots that I have re-soled and re-zipped several times and, they keep on making the grade. I still wish I had them in black. They are much-loved.

Favourite accessory - watch / jewellery / etc – and why is it special to you?

A beautiful pair of earrings that my husband bought for me and I just love them. They are silver and pearl that he bought in India for me and I love them because they are from him.

What items do you take on holiday and why?

I always take sunglasses because I love sunglasses; it’s always too bright or too glary for me everywhere I go.

And a hat, because I get sunburnt so, as much as I love being in the warmth, I just try and keep the sun out.

They are my holiday accessories, even in winter.

View on Instagram

Is there an item you threw away – or lost – that you really miss?

A giant, homespun, sheepswool jumper that my mum not only spun the wool for but also knitted for my father, originally. It was this massive, chocolate-coloured, fantastic, woollen jumper.

I stole it off my dad and took it everywhere but, unfortunately, I left it on the front seat of a girlfriend’s car on a visit to a city I didn’t know, and someone smashed the window in and stole it. So, I’m sure, whoever has it, will definitely be warm and dry forevermore. But my mum made that with all her heart and I really really wish I still had it.

What would you buy if money was no object?

Well, I’d make sure there was plenty to go around for everyone who needed some and I’d buy a couple of horses for my daughters. And a flat in New York. And a house in France.

I’d buy a month-long retreat at a health spa. And a massive holiday for Justin and I and the girls, somewhere incredible.

And the list goes on. What wouldn’t I buy, if money was no object!

The Murmuring is out now on Netflix

Loading