In Stuart Hazeldine’s The Shack, Radha Mitchell plays Nan Phillips, the matriarch of the Phillips’ family who helps to keep the family together after a terrible tragedy strikes.
Screen Rant spoke with Mitchell at press day, where we talked about her experiences playing powerful women, how she connected with her character Nan Phillips, and what moment from The Shack stood out for her.
One of the first times I ever saw you was in Pitch Black with Vin Diesel. You’ve had some experience playing alongside some pretty powerful actors playing that woman role. Do you enjoy playing these powerful women roles next to them?
Radha Mitchell: Yeah. I enjoy working with talented people and I think I’ve had the privilege of working some extraordinarily talented people, including Vin Diesel and Sam Worthington. You know, a list of very interesting Hollywood men actually…
Even Morgan Freeman.
Radha Mitchell: Morgan Freeman and Johnny Depp. I mean we can go into it, but basically everyone I’ve been curious about I’ve been able to work with. So, it’s been great. It’s always great to just work with people that are talented because it’s such a collaborative experience that whatever you do is completely dependent on who you are working with.
Obviously, in this movie, you are playing the mom that always holds it together, especially when you go through the experience this mom went through. Did that speak to you in any way? Was it emotional to get to that kind of emotion for you?
Radha Mitchell: Yeah. I think, I guess, when I read it I was a little like this woman is too perfect. Like, she is the perfect wife. I don’t even believe this. And then as I sort of got more involved in it, I was like, “Oh no. No. No. No.” The reason why she has this kind of inner strength is because she has this connection to God, I guess. She has a faith that there is a purpose behind things that she may not understand that enables her to withstand the tragedy or to sort of keep her strength intact and to be there to support her husband, who is obviously also struggling. And you often see relationships disintegrate after an event like this. It’s hard for two people to stay together because you become so immersed in your own pain. And she is not just having this sense of faith, but she is able to demonstrate it in action by just being someone who’s there. Not necessarily saying everything right. She’s just not going anywhere. And that was what made much more sense to me thinking of it like that.
I thought you did an amazing job with the character. It seems as though she has to keep it together, like very calm and cool headed for her husband, for her family, and I just thought that was very powerful. You did an amazing job with that, especially the line you said yourself, “We already lost one person. I don’t want to lose another.”
Radha Mitchell: Oh yeah. It’s funny because there’s little lines that people say throughout the script that stay with you, different characters, and you remember that moment later.
Well, thank you so much. Real quick. Was there ever a line or a script part that touched you in this film?
Radha Mitchell: Yeah. There was a few. Obviously, the message is so important. But I think the part I saw the other day, Sarayu’s character says something to Mack’s character, talking about human conflict and how we are playing out our stories with each other. And she said, “We didn’t mean it like that. It was only just meant to be a conversation between friends.” I think of all of us here on the planet. That we are just supposed to be friendly and have a good time. That stayed with me because I thought it articulated that concept very well.