Some of Angourie Rice’s earliest memories are of theatre rehearsal spaces, where she would sit quietly with a book or a journal, while her parents workshopped plays. She grew up “playing pretend in the corner while the grown-ups played pretend as well,” she says.
Yet when a Perth talent agent suggested to her mother, Kate, in the mid-2000s, that he would be able to get film and television work for the precocious Angourie, then six, and Kalliope, three, Kate was hesitant.
“I said, ‘no way’,” the playwright and erstwhile actor says. “I’d had so much heartache sitting in casting rooms and not getting jobs, and getting jobs that were humiliating and terrible, and I was like, ‘No, I’m not doing that for the girls’.”
Kate’s partner, director Jeremy Rice, persuaded her to let their daughters try one job to see if they liked it, and the sisters were booked for an advertising campaign for a house and land package.
Sixteen years later, Angourie is one of Hollywood’s hardest working, most talented rising stars. If you’re wondering how old is Angourie Rice now, she is 22.
Her breakout role in 2016’s The Nice Guys was described as a revelation, and many reviews singled her out for upstaging co-stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. She played Kate Winslet’s daughter in Mare of Easttown, and co-starred with Jennifer Garner in The Last Thing He Told Me, among many other credits.
In 2021, Variety named her on its 10 Actors to Watch list, which has anointed stars such as Timothée Chalamet and Viola Davis.
Angourie’s close bond with her mum Kate
Initially, Kate was uncomfortable with her daughters being exposed to the notoriously capricious industry, and as she drove to the set to collect them at the end of the day, she found herself getting worked up.
“I was driving there thinking, ‘I’m going to storm in there. I’m going to take them out. If they’re not happy, I’m leaving.’ Then of course I get there and the two of them are just frolicking, hair going everywhere, looking beautiful, having the time of their lives,” she laughs.
When Angourie started being cast in Hollywood films, Kate took on the role of chaperone. She jokes that she was the “bag lady” but really, she was there to ensure Angourie was treated respectfully.
“I’d had such a difficult time of it, I really wanted to make sure that Angourie never felt that her worth was going to be determined on whether she got a job or not,” Kate says.
“I grew up with a healthy sense that it is so much about luck, and you can work really, really hard, but what you do need to get a job is to be in the right place at the right time, which doesn’t happen often,” Angourie explains.
“I think that’s why I have so many hobbies now. Because it’s sort of a way to feel like I can do other things. I have value in other skills so that not everything is in acting, because it’s so heartbreaking when you don’t get the call that you got the job.”
One of these hobbies is The Community Library podcast, which Angourie started after graduating from high school in Melbourne. Every fortnight or so, she publishes a new episode, unpicking the themes of the wide range of books she chooses for the project.
“I have definitely always enjoyed all forms of storytelling,” says Angourie. “When I was a kid, I thought: If I’m not an actor, maybe I’ll be a dancer or an author. Or maybe I’ll be a producer.”
Kate and Angourie’s shared love of storytelling sparked the creative project they are here to speak about.
Their joint, debut novel, Stuck Up and Stupid, was written out in longhand over one summer in their family beach house. The very special house has been the one constant in their busy, creative lives that have taken them all over the world. They would take turns to write a chapter each.
“We were at the small kitchen table, or I would write at the coffee table,” Angourie says, adding that neither of them drink coffee, so the writing was fuelled by cups of tea.
Located in the fictional coastal hamlet of Pippi Beach, the novel uses the bones of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to tell a modern story that combines Australian beach culture and the tumult of Hollywood stardom.
The Rice family beach escape inspired the setting, while Kate and Angourie’s time navigating Hollywood together helped them build the closed-off world which, in Austen’s original, is the upper echelons of British gentry.
One character, the fearsome producer Stacy Black, is inspired by some of the characters Kate encountered in Los Angeles, but she says she never had cause to step in while on set with Angourie.
“I think it’s a testament to all the people I’ve worked with that there was no point where I thought: I don’t want to do this anymore,” Angourie says. “Everyone always made it fun for the kid.”
Highlights of Angourie Rice’s movies and TV shows
Angourie has previously spoken of Ryan Gosling inviting her to carve pumpkins with his family for Halloween and Kate Winslet confiding that she gets nervous when doing an accent, to put her at ease.
During her high-school years, Angourie was conscious that travelling for work meant giving up the teenage rites of passage at home. But, she says, “I knew in my heart that I would be disappointed for myself if I missed out on an opportunity.”
There came a point in her late teens where her pursuit of challenging and interesting roles became more deliberate, and it paid off.
Angourie Rice was in the Tom Holland Spider-Man films playing Betty Brant’s character, and she also worked with Sofia Coppola and Nicole Kidman in The Beguiled.
Kate nominates walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival as a “pinch me” moment. “It never goes away,” Angourie adds, of the surreal rise-and-rise she’s enjoyed. “I don’t remember the first [pinch-me moment] because it just keeps happening. It happens especially when I’m alone, travelling and I think about everyone at home and I think, oh my gosh this is a crazy life.”
Unseduced by the glitzy side of fame
Despite the red carpets and accolades, there is no hint of Hollywood affectation in Angourie. Kate was conscious of keeping both her daughters (Kalliope is now training as a stunt double) grounded and supported, and that connection was never stronger than when Kate and Angourie were passing pages back and forth as they created the world of Pippi Beach together.
“Angourie’s a grown-up now and is taking responsibility for her life, and I’m taking responsibility for my life – it’s actually lovely having something we can share,” Kate says. “It’s very satisfying.”
Angourie says she’s excited to take a more active role in the types of stories that are told. But she adds, “It’s also very scary. The more of yourself you put into something, the more vulnerable you’re being. It’s exposing the inner workings of your heart as well.”
Pre-order Angourie and Kate’s book Stuck Up & Stupid, which comes out on October 31, at Booktopia.