Angourie Rice is Hollywood’s newest, nicest Mean Girl
Call Sheet: the Australian actor has already played Peter Parker’s classmate, Nicole Kidman’s pupil and Kate Winslet’s daughter. Next up: an Apple TV+ thriller and an all-singing take on that ’00s teen classic.
If it’s Thursday, it must be the day after Wednesday. “And on Wednesdays,” says Angourie Rice, beaming from her kitchenette, “we wear pink.”
As any fan of early ’00s Hollywood high school comedies knows, that’s a line from Mean Girls. The 2004 film, in which naive 16-year-old school newbie Cady is inducted into the cliquey world ruled by the rich but insecure ‘Plastics’, is now a generation-spanning cult classic.
Success, of course, breeds IP exploitation. Like Hairspray (another rite-of-passage tale) and The Color Purple (a very different rite-of-passage saga) before it, Mean Girls became a Broadway musical. Now, like both those films, that stage musical is being adapted for a new film. And Rice, the 22-year-old Australian previously best known for playing Kate Winslet’s daughter in HBO’s 2021 crime drama Mare of Easttown, is Cady, the character immortalised by Lindsay Lohan. Even if you’ve already joined the MCU (Rice is Betty Brant in the three Tom Holland-era Spider-Man movies), those are big metallic pink kitten heels to fill.
“It’s so daunting!” admits Rice, gamely, as we talk over Zoom from the accommodation she’s renting for Mean Girls: The Musical’s near-three-month shoot “somewhere” on America’s East Coast. Born in Sydney and named after a New South Wales beach that was a favourite of her grandmother’s, Rice was three when Mean Girls was released. But she later watched it repeatedly with her sister on a portable DVD player.
“I remember exactly how a scene plays or exactly how Cady says something,” Rice says. “You have to find that balance of honouring the original, while also trying to put your take on it. You want to bring your own new thing to it.”
Rice has been acting professionally for over half her life and is more than prepared for the role. A keen knitter, she’s just finished a pink jumper for those Pink Wednesdays.
Rice is crafty in other ways, too. In March 2019 she launched The Community Library, her elevator pitch for which is: “An Instagram and podcast about stories, and how and why we tell them.”
A voracious reader, she was looking for a creative outlet after graduating from high school. “Because as much as I adore film, as an actor there’s so little control that you have over your career and over your creativity. I wanted something where I was my own boss and I made the decisions. And also I wanted to share with people my love of books.”
She’d love to emulate Reese Witherspoon, whose own book club was one of Rice’s inspirations, in developing popular books into films or series. Neatly, Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company is also behind Rice’s other current project, The Last Thing He Told Me, a glossy Californian mystery miniseries for Apple TV+.
Rice convincingly plays another aggy teen, this one a 16-year-old whose relationship with her stepmother (Jennifer Garner) grudgingly shifts from sullen to cooperative as they investigate the sudden disappearance of her dad (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
Did she read that source book? “I did. After I auditioned, I got all the scripts and then I read the book. That was a strange way to do it. But I loved the book. I read it in three days.”
Want to know the other scripts Rice has read, convinced the job was never going to be hers? The blockbuster gig she landed as a 15-year-old during a free period at school? The hardest word to say in Mare of Easttown’s Pennsylvania accent? OK, the answer to that is “watermelon”. But here’s all the other Call Sheet juice…
The biggest lie I’ve ever told to get a part was…
I don’t think I’ve told any lies to get a role. I didn’t even exaggerate anything to get the Spider-Man role, because I didn’t think that I’d gotten it. That was such a weird and long process. I got a call in the middle of recess and my mom drove to school to hand me the phone. She was like: “I know you thought this job was gone. But they’re on the phone now offering it to you.” And I had to go to the edge of the school property to speak to these Marvel producers. My friends were saying: “What was that?” And I was like: “I can’t say…” Then I had to go back to class, carrying this big secret. I was 15.
The most bonkers costume I’ve ever worn for a part…
Logistically, all the dresses I wore in [Sofia Coppola’s] The Beguiled, which was set during the American Civil War. We all had corsets, evening gown dresses and three or four different petticoats. I remember sitting down on the floor being surrounded by this marshmallow of petticoats.
The one thing I have to have in my trailer…
I’m obsessed with these fig bars called Nature’s Bakery. And they come in raspberry, blueberry and “original fig”. I just love them.
My most Hollywood diva moment was when I…
…asked for three boxes of Nature’s Bakery fig bars. That was yesterday!
One item that travels everywhere with me is…
Always a book, and my fairy lights. I have these plug-in string lights that I bring with me. Because wherever I am – Airbnb, hotel, whatever – it just makes it so much more homey to have them above the bed.
The co-star who left me the most starstruck was…
[The Beguiled co-star] Nicole Kidman. She’s just one of the biggest stars in the world, so how could you not be starstruck? It was also absolutely daunting going toe to toe with Kate Winslet. I was terrified. That was another one where I auditioned twice and thought: “I don’t think this will go anywhere.”
Then they said: “We’re setting you up for a meeting with the director and producer.” I thought it was going to be a general meeting where they would give me notes and I’d have to audition again. But they offered me the job. They said: “Yeah, Kate watched your tape as well and she’s really excited.” And I was like: “Oh-kaaaay…” I was so, so, so nervous to meet her. But she was so lovely and she made everyone on that set feel at ease, especially because it was such a big show and such a scary undertaking.
The best piece of advice I’ve got in the industry…
I made The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and Ryan Reynolds when I was 13… And I remember them telling me just to have fun with it. I was such a stickler for saying the exact right words. I was that kid who knew all my lines – but I also knew all of their lines. I knew the entire scene back to front.
One thing I wish I’d known about being an actor is…
That it’s really long hours. I worked as a kid, so I learnt so much of it early on. But once you turn 18, you no longer have [to have] your parents with you. That was when I learned: if you don’t travel with someone, if you don’t have a guardian with you, if you don’t have a friend with you, it can be a really lonely job.
The TV show I’m bingeing at the moment is…
This is so bad: the only thing I’ve been watching is The Last Thing He Told Me because I just got the [finished] episodes. The other thing I’m watching, which I actually can’t binge because it’s coming out weekly, is the new season of Party Down. Because I loooved seasons one and two. And Jen Garner is in season three, so it’s perfect!
My dream role is…
Something in a period drama. I’d love to do an adaptation of a Jane Austen book. I love her. I dunno if I have the period English accent yet. But you bet that as soon as the cameras start rolling, I’ll have it!
The Last Thing He Told Me is on Apple TV+ from 14th April
HAIR Laura Costa MAKE-UP Misha Shahzad STYLING Aryeh Lappin