Acting is in Leila George's blood. The daughter of Law & Order: Criminal Intent star Vincent D’Onofrio and Australian actress Greta Scacchi, the 26-year-old has her highest profile role to date in big-budget adventure Mortal Engines (in cinemas now, watch the trailer below).
Based on the novel by Philip Reeve, it is set in London, but it’s a version of the English city that’s never been seen before on film. For one thing, it rolls across mainland Europe on massive wheels.
In the film produced by Peter Jackson and directed by his protégé Christian Rivers, George plays Katherine Valentine, the daughter of one of London’s most prominent and respected leaders, Thaddeus (Hugo Weaving). When Katherine discovers Dad is not all he’s meant to be, it sets her off on a journey in which she questions – and challenges – everything she’s ever been told. Here, she tells WHO about the experience of shooting the film.
Mortal Engines is the latest post-apocalyptic film to hit cinemas.
What’s our obsession with end-of-the-world stuff?
I love it, too. I don’t know. I think it’s because we don’t know. It’s like, what happens when you die. You don’t know. I’m surprised there aren’t more movies about the afterlife because it’s the same type of hunger – we want answers.
It feels especially possible at the moment, with climate change and the political madness going on around the world …
Yeah, totally. With climate change, there’s so many different branches to it and it’s really scary how much people aren’t taking notice. That’s what’s scarier than what’s actually happening, that people are denying that it’s happening.
The scale of the film is massive - what was it like being on such a big-budget set?
It was exhilarating and exciting, and gave me goosebumps and terrified me. It was awesome. It was like, “I better bring my A game because these guys have totally done that.” I wanted to pull my weight and be part of this team. The talent was at such a high standard - it makes you want to just do whatever you can to facilitate the making of the movie.
Was there a lot of green screen work involved?
Not as much as you’d think. The production design team built a lot – and huge sets. Some of them were crazy huge, like St Paul’s Cathedral. Inside of it was maybe the same size as [the actual] St Paul’s Cathedral. There was hardly any green screen – for me at least.
Your next film, The Kid, was directed by your father. Did you see a different side of him working on that?
No, he was him. I’ve also taken his acting class a bunch so it wasn’t the first time I’d acted in front of him, because that would’ve been scary. But he worked in the same way he’s worked in the past. It was easy in that sense.
For more of our interview with George, in which she talks about having two actors for parents and how she resisted following in their footsteps, check out this week's issue of WHO magazine.