You may not have heard the name Thomasin McKenzie but it won’t be long before you are seeing her everywhere. McKenzie’s performance in Leave No Trace (2018) is receiving rave reviews after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The way critics are talking about this film is really very good indeed, and McKenzie’s performance is making waves. The movie’s director Debra Granik, was responsible for casting Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone (2010), the role that rocketed Lawrence into the limelight. Inevitably, comparisons are being made, but McKenzie waves these away saying “we’re individuals, we each have our own style.”
With hardly enough time to celebrate the kiwi teenager is now juggling the filming of satirical Hitler movie Jojo Rabbit with Taika Waititi, and playing Timothee Chalamet’s sister in King due out in 2019.
A Family Business
The 17-year-old from Wellington comes from a showbiz family. Her mother, Miranda Harcourt, is an actress and father, Stuart McKenzie, a director. This year, Thomasin attended The Cannes Film Festival promoting Leave No Trace while her Mom and Dad were there promoting The Changeover, a film they co-directed. There must be plenty to talk about in that household this year.
Taika Waititi’s Next Venture
While attending Sundance in April, McKenzie auditioned in LA for a role in Jojo Rabbit; Waititi’s adaptation of novel Caging Skies, by Christine Leung. Waititi himself plays a version of Adolf Hitler, as imagined by a young boy. McKenzie plays Elsa, an Anne Frank-like Jewish girl being hidden in an attic. She told The Listener of working on this film with Waititi “it is a dream.”
McKenzie is not the first young New Zealand to appear suddenly on the world stage. But, unlike Anna Paquin in The Piano and Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whalerider who found success in their first roles, McKenzie worked steadily at her acting career for years. Initially she had resisted joining the family business until she appeared at age 12 in Consent, a TV movie about a sexual abuse victim’s fight for justice. McKenzie said about that role: “… it’s not just acting; it’s not just being in a movie; it’s telling a story. it’s telling people things that need to be heard.”
Leave No Trace
In Leave No Trace, McKenzie stars as Tom, daughter of Ben Foster’s character Will. Will is a war veteran who is suffering from unspecified PTSD-like problems. The duo is living happily in secret in an Oregon national park. But all of that changes when they are forced back into civilization. By all accounts, this film gives a moving view of the parental relationship and the challenges for those who fall outside the mainstream in America.
Critics agree that her performance in Leave No Trace is outstanding. With such acclaim, Thomasin McKenzie is definitely a face to look out for moving forward.
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