Odessa Young on Mothering Sunday, The Staircase Series

Unsurprisingly, Odessa Young seems to be on the list of actresses who are recently auditioning for the role of the Madonna biopic. She got hot. The young Australian-born girl, 24, has been perfecting her skills since the age of 11 on her way to becoming an indie style lover (Girl, Assassination Country), and has a confidence that transcends her years.

Next, she will be seen on the big screen in Sony Pictures Classics’ Mothering Sundaypremieres in select theaters on March 25. The post-World War I romantic drama – perhaps best described as a more moody, erotic and tragic version of Downton Abbey – Young stars as an English maid who is romantically involved with an aristocrat (do Crown’Josh O’Connor). CHEAPLeslie Felperin noted in her review that Mothering Sunday “Possibly one of the most heterosexual dramas of all time” and called Young for her display of “commitment”, saying that she “makes the nude scene often the character feels completely comfortable, even charming.”

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Odessa Young
Christopher Schoonover

The film, which also stars Olivia Colman and Colin Firth, premiered at the 2021 Cannes festival but is among the many films that have had to wait for the surge to hit theaters.

Young also stars later this year (opposite Firth again) in Stairan HBO Max series about convicted murderer Michael Peterson.

What drew you to? Mothering Sunday?

The script, trusting the director and feeling like it’s something – that doesn’t sound so important – I can deliver [it] which probably no one else can do. In this case, it is always a challenge for an actress to not have too many lines. If I succeed in that challenge, I can bring realism to the experience of just watching someone go about their day-to-day business.

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In the film there are extended scenes when you are naked, including walking through a manor in England enjoying a late lunch. Can you describe that experience? Is there a double body for any part?

No, there is no double body. Revealing this might not be too romantic for me, but I can do it because I treat my body like an outfit. I enjoy the challenge of moments where you don’t have to rely on written action or written dialogue.

Do you rely on Olivia Colman as a mentor?

We shot the movie in the fall of 2020, during COVID. It was the first time I was really around people. She also has interesting reflections on nudity and her experience of saying no to it. I definitely went to her for her comfort and context.

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Young (center, flanked by Emma D’Arcy and Josh O’Connor) as a maid in Mothering Sunday.
Courtesy of Robert Viglasky

Your co-star Josh O’Connor previously played Prince Charles in Crown.

Right. Everyone in that core group except me plays members of the British royal family – Olivia, Josh and Colin. And Olivia and Colin are also royals of screen and stage.

YYou still haven’t played royal? You may want not?

That is an interesting question. I honestly don’t know. But if I did, I’d probably play someone from a long-forgotten royal family. I can’t think of any royals or current royals in recent history with whom I feel a special connection.

You mentioned that you started acting when you were 11 years old. Have you ever thought of doing something else?

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Sure, at the start of the pandemic. I think everyone has had a collective existential crisis and mine just came out as, “Do I want to keep taking action?” I tried doing a few other things and realized that, yes, I really want to do this.

What have you tried?

I took a writing course, and started painting a bit, and I started using Photoshop and was just trying to figure out if I really had any other skills.

Do you live in Australia full time?

No, I live in New York.

Do you want to get away from life in LA, Hollywood of it all?

Yes, as much as possible, although I love its mythology. But I think it’s just a myth.

The edited interview is long and clear.

A version of this story first appeared in the March 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.

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