ABBIE CORNISH – Interview with the superstar Aussie actress

Lara Antonelli interviewing Abbie Cornish at the 2006 AF1 Awards in Melbourne. Photography by Pen To Paper Media.

There is something alluring about Abbie Cornish. Standing alongside the red carpet at the AFI Awards held in Melbourne last December, I hardly recognised her. Albeit my heart was still a-flutter from having just interviewed Heath Ledger (a successful feat undertaken without any exchange of blows…. or saliva for that matter). I generally detest grand sweeping comments that link one high profile celebrity to that of a new comers career, but critics may have latched onto something with the whole ‘Abbie Cornish is the new Nicole Kidman’ thing. Let’s not be deluded to the notion that Cornish resembles Kidman in her BMX ‘frizzy haired, stack hat wearing’ Bandits era, yet more around the time Kidman broke it off with Top Gun little man and sometimes couch jumper, Tom Cruise circa her Chanel No. 5 advertisement. Cornish looked exquisite in a backless Toni Maticevski number, complimented by Autore South Sea Pearls. Her strawberry blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail was highly reminiscent of Kidman, however that’s as far as the resemblance dares to tread. There is a uniqueness and determination to Cornish that is indelible. This vision of beauty on the red carpet was a stark contrast to the girl I had witnessed on screen, naked and willowing in her own heroin induced hell, sweating profusely and sprawled across a decaying mattress in acclaimed Australian film, Candy. The only thing that remained was the glow that radiated from Cornish’s intense hazel eyes that make you, willingly or not, stare into them with such allurement it is hard to blink. Couple that with a killer smile and a steely yet ever so friendly demeanour and you have yourself a fascinating enigma. It’s no wonder the rumour mill has nearly been spun off it’s axis with the amount of stories circulating about Cornish’s love life. The Hollywood and international press went ape over rumours Cornish was the reason behind the Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon split. The two met starring alongside each other in the new Kimberly Pierce film Stop Loss, a controversial movie about the procedure introduced by the US to demand soldiers who have served their time in Iraq, to be sent back, extending their enlistment period. And of course, there’s our own hunky Heath who starred with Cornish in Neil Armfield’s Candy, rumoured to have been more than just friends. Quite frankly though, what deems Cornish so interesting isn’t her off- screen romances, but her phenomenal acting expertise as demonstrated in this poetically tragic Aussie film. Centred around two youngens in love, who fall head on into the temptation of heroin, all but selling their souls to support each hit, desperately seeking that original high from which they initially fell. Adapted from Luke Davies’ novel, Candy is harrowing, and juxtaposes the catastrophic nature of the drug against how ‘obsessively connected to each other’, according to director Armfield, the two principle characters are. Ultimately the 3 stages of their journey, represented in the forms of Heaven, Earth and Hell, collapse to bring about retribution for the lovers, who realise their life of excess and obsession was riddled with demise and destruction. Cornish already has the following awards under her tightening belt: 1999 AFI Young Actors Award, 2004 AFI & IF Best Lead Actress, plus best Breakthrough Performance at the 2005 Miami Film Festival (for the 2004 flick Somersault). Stay tuned to see more of Cornish in the other international films A Good Year and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (alongside Cate Blanchett).

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