Dacre Montgomery with Geraldine Viswanathan in ‘The Broken Hearts Gallery.’
If Sony Pictures’ rom-com The Broken Hearts Gallery, now screening in cinemas, had been made five years ago, Geraldine Viswanathan doubts that a woman of colour like her would have been cast as the lead.
The Newcastle-raised 25-year-old, whose father is an Indian-born doctor and mother is Swiss, plays Lucy, a New York art gallery assistant who clings to souvenirs from numerous failed relationships.
Nursing another broken heart, Lucy befriends Nick (fellow Aussie Dacre Montgomery), an emotionally-closed guy who is trying to raise the money to renovate his dream hotel. Lucy sets out to build the gallery of the title in his lobby as her relationship with Nick changes.
“If this movie was made even five years ago I don’t know if I would be in the lead,” Viswanathan said in an Australians in Film webinar with Montgomery, moderated by Jenny Cooney.
Asked what advice she would give to women of colour who are considering an acting career, she said: “It’s a really exciting time. Things are opening up. The world is having an interesting conversation.
“Do what you want to do and don’t let anyone put you in a box.”
After Geraldine read the script she talked to rookie feature writer-director Natalie Krinsky (who scripted episodes of Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy and 90210) via Facetime.
“I was really drawn to Lucy and this fresh, funny rom-com,” she says. “Natalie has this infectious energy, we got into it straight away and within minutes she was helping me with my life.”
Montgomery, who has just been cast as TV director Steve Binder in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic Elvis, met Krinsky over dinner.
He immediately sparked to the idea that apart, from Natalie’s current partner, she had never had a partner who had supported her career. Dacre clinched the part after a chemistry read with Geraldine, who had already been cast.
The movie was shot in Toronto plus four days in New York City. Both actors enjoyed the licence to improvise.
A graduate of the Hunter School of Performing Arts, Viswanathan’s career has rocketed since her breakthrough in Kay Cannon’s comedy Blockers opposite Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena.
Geraldine with Daniel Radcliffe in ‘Miracle Workers.’
She made her US TV debut in TBS’s comedy anthology Miracle Workers, playing Daniel Radcliffe’s love interest as an angel named Eliza, the daughter of Steve Buscemi’s God. She will soon start shooting the third season of the show as the location shifts from the Czech Republic to California.
This year she appeared with Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney in HBO’s Bad Education, directed by Cory Finley. Next up, she will voice Winnie, an aspiring monster wrestling trainer, in Paramount Animation and WWE Studio’ Rumble.
Due for release in the US next January, the Hamish Grieve-directed comedy set in a world where monster wrestling is a global sport follows Winnie as she seeks to follow in her father’s footsteps by coaching a lovable underdog monster into a wrestling champion.
Montgomery, who graduated from the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts in 2015, made his big screen debut in Power Rangers as Jason Lee Scott, the Red Ranger.
Best known for his role as Billy Hargrove in Netflix’s Stranger Things, the actor says that, when he’s not working, he is on the first plane back home to Sydney.
Super-modest, he says: “I suffer really badly from nerves. I’d really like to get the confidence to do theatre again because I am so scared of that. I feel I am faking it every single day and am just hoping no one will find out.”
That surprised Geraldine, who observed: “He’s amazing; he handles it pretty well.”