I remember seeing Elle on a Sports Illustrated TV special when I was 15 and thinking, “Oh my God, she’s amazing, and she’s Australian!” and, “Oh my God, that’s her job!” She was getting photographed on a beach in The Bahamas. The next year I started deportment classes because it was a thing at the time – a lot of girls at school were doing it – though I didn’t have any aspirations to become a model. But then I was approached after the graduation and thought, “Well, maybe I can be like Elle Macpherson on a beach on the other side of the world one day!” I looked to Elle for inspiration as she was one of the first models to transition from a one-dimensional clothes horse to a businesswoman. She was smart about developing her own brand and creating that as a business, as opposed to being booked to promote other people’s brands. I kept watching her as I was developing my own career, hoping that one day I could make that transition as well. You’re always told modelling has a shelf life and that you’ll expire one day, and I think she managed the evolution brilliantly.
I had the insane pleasure of acting opposite Charlize [in Mad Max: Fury Road], which is exactly as intimidating an experience as you can imagine – she’s an Oscar winner for crying out loud! You hear actors call other actors generous, and now I know what that means: it means she gave me so much to work with. It made what I did as an actor very easy because I could bounce off her and react. She just delved into that character and took me along for the ride. But beyond her acting, I find Charlize particularly inspiring because she started out as a model. Typically, people rate models as horrific actors, but she took herself off to Hollywood where she acted her butt off and smashed stereotypes. She’s also very open about what happened to her as a child [her mother killed her abusive father in self-defence] and it takes a lot of courage and balls to stand up and speak out about that. She's quite fearless and I love women like that.
This story appears in the August 2019 issue of marie claire, out now.