Stopping to Smell the Roses with Actor Tahyna Tozzi

Tahyna Tozzi is quick to apologise for being two minutes late to her interview because she’s changed into comfy clothes in her car. “I couldn’t take wearing those tight skinny jeans for a minute longer,” she says wiggling, as if shaking off the audition she’s just had for a feature film.

Los Angeles is known as the home of the “Hollywood diva,” but that’s fortunately not the case with Cronulla born Tahyna Tozzi, who certainly breaks the status quo with her refreshingly down-to-earth demure. With roles in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and a range of indie films, as well as a production company with her flat-mate and fellow Aussie Teresa Palmer, Tozzi clearly isn’t afraid of hard work. Billabout’s Angela Ledgerwood grabs a green tea latte with the actress at Urth Café in Santa Monica, California to find out what else makes her tick.

How did you end up in LA?

I first went to New York to visit my younger sister (model Chennyne Tozzi) and ended up studying there for two years at The Atlantic Theatre Company, while working at Ruby’s in Nolita. I eventually flew out to LA for pilot season and I liked it – the vibe is very different – and things started to roll in from Australia. At 21 I was finally breaking through a little bit, starting with an independent Australian film called Beautiful, and then I went back and did Wolverine. It’s been back and forth between LA and Australia, and more recently, New York where we shot Trophy Kids for eight weeks.

Do you still get nervous auditioning?

Yes, I’ll go through some where I’m shaking, and I’ll look down on myself and think, “Please stop shaking, please stop shaking.”

Where do you live?

In North Hollywood, right by the Hollywood Bowl with my roommate Teresa Palmer– she’s immensely talented.

Sounds like fun, how did you two meet?

We were the last two girls at an audition and I heard her accent. I said, “Are you Australian?” and it literally started like that. We ended up striking a friendship and within a few months we were getting so sick of the auditions that were coming through, so we thought we should write our own film. We started a production company called Wood Cabin Pictures and next year we’re shooting our film Track Town; its been about three years in the making. I think that’s what sets Australians apart– we don’t sit around on our bums, we’re actually quite proactive.

What’s it about?

We wanted to do a female version of the film Easy Rider with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. We have an executive producer on board and we’re putting it out to some writers and directors.

How did you guys write the script?

We’ve had three drafts and each time we would go over it for months and then we’d scrap it and move on. Initially we developed characters that we’d really want to play, and then we developed a story about these two girls. It really progressed when we met a budding screen writer and journalist for the New York Times, and now he’s been writing it on spec. It’s been back and forth. Teresa and I just spent two months writing out the treatment, where we wrote out exactly what happens scene by scene. Now we’re speaking with a writer and directors who are on the same page as us to help us with the screenplay.

Where is it set?

We had always wanted to shoot in Australia, but our executive producer wants to make it a U.S. production. Essentially, it’s a female driven, on the road film, but there are a whole lot of twists and turns. It’s really a friendship story.

When do you start shooting?

We’re aiming to shoot by next year, before we get too old! (Laughs) When we started writing it we were 21, and then we made them [the characters] 22 and now we’re 25 and we have to get it made because it’s supposed to be about these young girls.

Is it hard having a career in LA?

No one ever tells you how hard it is. You come out here with starry eyes, but I don’t really feel like I started living here full time till last year. Teresa and I have had this conversation that we’ve had a great ride, and we’ve tried, but I can’t wait for the day when I get married and have kids. Five years ago my dream was to win an Oscar, and that’s still a big dream, but essentially I want to be in love and have a family and a dog– it’s surprising to find out that that’s what I want.

Any regrets about pursuing an acting career?

When I was living in NY I had days where I questioned what I was doing, like I should have gone to university, instead of being a waitress and studying, but now I look back on that time very fondly. I had so much fun and made friends for life; I guess it’s about stopping to smell the roses.

Interview by Angela Ledgerwood

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