Thomasin McKenzie Interview: ‘Leave No Trace’
“It’s a film about the goodness in people” declares Thomasin McKenzie of Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace.” The young actress portrays Tom, a girl living with her father off the grid in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. Watch our exclusive video above as the young actress appreciates that there were no villains in the film, but rather two people “trying to do what they think is best.”
Tom’s father Will suffers from PTSD and is played by Ben Foster. “I really loved that it was a story about a Dad and a daughter” says McKenzie. Both actors trained in the various survivalist skills their characters used in the movie. Foster arrived at training first and was even able to show skills to McKenzie the way a father would his daughter. It was a process McKenzie says “really helped with the chemistry.”
In order to connect further and develop the strong familial bond the characters needed, they employed various exercises to connect. One was an intimate Maori greeting, borrowed from the indigenous people of McKenzie’s native New Zealand. She refers to another technique as “hug to connect,” which she learned from her mother, actress Miranda Harcourt. “We got comfortable with each other, in each other’s space” describes McKenzie, “our breathing got into sync.” The result is an incredibly believable father-daughter relationship.
Thomasin McKenzie comes from a family of New Zealand actors and has developed her own skill set by being immersed in her parent’s theatrical world from a young age. “I learned so much just by watching them” admits McKenzie, “learning through osmosis.” Despite the early exposure to acting, she didn’t always want to pursue the craft as her profession. But recently she realizes that “you can make a difference” through performing and telling stories that need to be told.
McKenzie’s impressive performance in “Leave No Trace” has already garnered several accolades. She recently won Best Breakthrough Performance from the National Board of Review and was nominated for a Gotham Award (Breakthrough Actor) and Independent Spirit Award (Best Supporting Actress). She calls the positive response to the film “really surreal.” Ultimately though, she humbly admits she feels “empowered and excited that I’m able to make people feel things.”