When I was a kid, my mum and I loved watching Katharine Hepburn movies. She was so believable in every character she played. I think the best part of her career was when she was a bit older and did sexier roles. She never wanted to stop working or be seen as an older lady; she kept herself very young on the inside. I love to watch her work and get inspired by her movies, but as an actress you can’t try to be someone else. You have to be yourself. I look up to her because she was never afraid to say what she was thinking, she controversially wore pants, and she lived a very independent life. Women like her have been fighting for our rights and equality for all these years, so we have to keep doing it. I want my children to have female role models and be inspired by women – not just my daughter, but my sons too.
Tracey is an Australian producer who moved to LA. I met her after my audition for Tidelands. I went to a meeting with the team and was surprised [to find that] of the three producers, two were women and one was a man. That’s rare in Hollywood. I was really happy about it [as] I felt that the script was about powerful women, and the people behind it should also be women. I could immediately see Tracey and I were on the same page. One of the things I admire about her is that she’s a businesswoman and a mum at the same time, which is complicated. She has teenagers and it’s hard because she has to travel for work, but she’s passionate about both her career and family. She gave me a lot of strength: if I ever felt insecure during filming, she’d call me and talk to me as a friend rather than as a producer. She would say, “Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s great.” It gave me comfort and confidence and I’ll always appreciate that.
My mum was a young wife and moved from Romania to Spain to be with her husband. But things didn’t go her way. She got divorced, which was really difficult for her, especially in Spain where they have old-fashioned ideals. But she kept her strength and started from scratch without even knowing the language, eventually becoming a marketing director. I think that’s always been her thing – being a strong woman. Mum always supported me to be whoever I wanted to be. My dad made me study journalism, which was great because it gave me options for the future, but my dream was to be an actress. Mum was always there by my side, telling me to do what made me happy. The best advice she gave me was to fight for everything you want and to never give up. She was more like a best friend than a mum. I hope that I can follow in her footsteps and one day be my daughter’s best friend.
Elsa Pataky stars in Tidelands, now streaming on Netflix.
This article appeared in this month's February issue of Marie Claire. On sale now.