Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, tells the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an Army medic, Medal of Honor recipient, and conscientious objector. Doss saved over 75 lives during the Battle of Okinawa without ever holding or firing a weapon.
Australian actress Teresa Palmer plays Dorothy Schutte, the woman who in real life became Desmond’s first wife. Screen Rant sat down with Palmer at the Hacksaw Ridge press day to talk about her preparation for and connection to the role of Dorothy. Also, Palmer — who was once cast as Talia al Ghul in George Miller’s unmade Justice League Mortal — throws her hat in the ring to play the character in Warner Brother’s new DC movie universe.
First of all, congratulations on this film, it was amazing. And congratulations there too [indicates Palmer’s pregnancy].
Teresa Palmer: Thank you very much.
How much research went into playing Dorothy, and maybe the time period, of being a nurse in that era?
Teresa Palmer: A lot. [laughs] I did a lot of research. I listened to audio tapes of hers, read love stories that they wrote to each other, and then also just, gosh, so much. The accent; the accent was really the one that I had to work on. And not only did I have to have this Lynchburg, Virginia, 1940s accent, I also listened to the way she sounded. And I wanted to sound just like her, so I had to fully change the tone of my voice as well. So it was a process.
You also were doing the Berlin Syndrome at the same time, and those are two completely different characters. How difficult was that, and how hard was that as an actress to kind of manage that headspace between, like separating that?
Teresa Palmer: Completely challenging. The most challenging thing that I’ve had to navigate in my career, because I was actually doing them simultaneously for two weeks. And obviously, Berlin Syndrome I play a woman who’s affected by Stockholm Syndrome, but with like a really broad Australian accent. And then, it’s like I come to Hacksaw Ridge and I’m a woman of great faith in the 1940s. It was really challenging. It was actually the reason why I took this full year off, because I gave so much to both of those movies, and then I was like, “I’m spent. I need to take a year off.”
Yeah, and rightfully so. The charm that Desmond used on Dorothy was very adorable and very cute. Would that have worked on Teresa?
Teresa Palmer: Oh yeah. I’m a sucker for, like, an endearing man who’s like standing in his authentic self. That’s all I care about; if you’re being true to who you are, and the things you believe in, that is so attractive to me. So I completely understood why she fell in love with him.
So it was right up your alley, then? You kind of, you got it right off the bat, you’re listening to all these audio tapes and stuff?
Teresa Palmer: I just, got her. I just know why she fell in love with him. And it’s funny, because you meet a lot of the other boys in the barracks, and like the Luke Braceys of the world — he’s playing the guy Smitty who’s, you know very like, jock kind of guy, and you think he’d be the typical choice. But I’m very much like Dorothy. I go for the underdog, the endearing one, the gentle one. That’s what I like.
Amazing. So back in the day you were rumored to play Talia al Ghul in George Miller’s Justice League.
Teresa Palmer: Yeah, I was going to be her.
Yeah. Now that Ben Affleck’s going to be playing Batman, we know, is there any chance that you’d still want to portray the role of Talia al Ghul?
Teresa Palmer: One hundred percent. [laughs]
Teresa Palmer: One hundred percent. I think Marion Cotillard played—I don’t know how to pronounce her last name, by the way—she played Talia al Ghul in one of the Batmans, and I remember thinking, “well, okay, obviously she’s gonna play Talia al Ghul.” But if there’s ever an opportunity I’d absolutely love it. Put it out there, can you put it out there for me?
I’ll put it out there, Screen Rant — we’re gonna make it a whole thing.
Teresa Palmer: Can you make it a thing?
Yeah. So you’re campaigning for the role, Talia al Ghul.
Teresa Palmer: Okay, I’m doing it.
Well thank you so much for your time. This was an amazing film, and you did a great job.
Teresa Palmer: Aw, thank you.
Couldn’t thank you enough, it was amazing.
Teresa Palmer: I appreciate it.