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Why Danielle Macdonald Is Taking Up Opera Despite Advice from Dolly Parton To Stick To Acting

"I made them turn up the music really loud when I was singing on set!”

Danielle Macdonald sits down with marie claire to talk singing like everyones watching, working with Joanna Lumley and why she’s a secret Disney adult.

marie claire: Congratulations on your new film Falling for Figaro. What was it about the script that resonated with you? 

Danielle Macdonald: “I missed romcoms! I miss fun, light-hearted movies where you want to root for these characters and enter into a different world. That’s the exact kind of movie I love watching.”

MC: I read that despite your singing being dubbed in the film, you still had to have voice lessons. What was that experience like of singing without being concerned with how you sound?

DM: “You know, that should make you feel better, but for me, the singing part was so terrifying. Hugh Skinner (Macdonald’s co-star) is an amazing singer, so that was really embarrassing when we were doing duets and he sounds like a professional singer. I just made them turn up the music really loud when I was singing!”

MC: You’re not a singer, yet you star in a lot of music-centred films. Why is that?

DM: “This is so funny, because you’re right, I am in a lot of music-based films. I did do an episode of Glee, which was one of my first ever jobs. And then I had to learn how to rap for Patty Cakes. I’m just not musical and these musical things keep following me around, but they clearly have a different plan for me!”

How did working with Dolly Parton in Dumplin’ prepare you for the role?

“I recorded a single with Dolly and Jennifer Aniston, and that I think prepares you for a lot in life in the sense that that is truly one of the most terrifying things I have ever done. [Dolly], who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, jokingly told me to stick to acting.”

Danielle Mcdonald

MC: What’s your favourite memory off or on-set of working alongside Johanna Lumley?

DM: “She’s just incredible. Johanna, myself and Joe would go and eat dinner together basically every single night because we were up in Loch Lomond filming. the three of us are kind of just like the Three Musketeers. So she’s just the coolest person, so welcoming, talented and inviting. The three of us even after we finished shooting last night, all went and got takeaway food had ate dinner on the balcony of our hotel rooms together. It just became a little family.”

MC: You said in an interview that you “had agents in Australia, I just never had any auditions.” Why was this a catalyst as opposed to a deterrent for you to continue to pursue a career in acting?

DM: “I was young, so I think sometimes when you’re a teenager, you don’t really care when people say no. In an interesting way it drives you even more. I think that we gain both insecurity in our ability over time, but we also gain confidence over time.  I just knew that I hadn’t even had an opportunity yet, so I thought If I’m gonna fail and I’m gonna suck at this, then I need to actually be in it and see that that’s gonna happen, versus just being told no when no one’s actually seen me act.  I also just really loved it, and I’m quite stubborn when I really want to be. I’m a Taurus, you know.”

MC: You’ve played a rapper, a cop and an opera singer. What is your process for understanding your character and their world of your character in preparation for a role? 

DM: “Time and research. Whenever there’s music involved, like with Paddy Cakes, there was a lot of listening to music and stories about New Jersey. It’s a lot of practice and looking really stupid, like even just walking. I’m not kidding, I felt so stupid kind of just walking. But you have to get comfortable in your own body in a completely different way than what you’re used to. Even playing an opera singer, it was so much about breathing technique. I had opera lessons. I  try to already be as in character as much as possible and know who the character is mentally before I tackle each individual situation.”

Danielle Macdonald and Joanna Lumley

MC: You said that you cried all day on the set of Bird Box. Is an apocalyptic thriller a genre you’d rule out in future?

DM: “For me, it was quite emotional, because I had a baby in the movie and when I see the monster, I had to give my baby up, while also wanting to jump out a window and then actually physically jumping out a window. I have a photo of me and Sandra Bullock on set and it’s where both laying down with our big baby suits on, which are so heavy, and I was just completely passed out.”

MC: You’re a big Disney fan and I read that you would name your baby after a Disney princess. What’s your favourite Disney film and if you could star in a remake of a Disney film what would it be?

DM: “I have my top three Disney films, and they’re all classics: The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin. Honestly, here’s the thing, if any of the classics have been remade, I wouldn’t say no.”

Falling for Figaro is in cinemas now. Visit 

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