Also, the reverence they have for this much-loved film has not wavered – because it changed their lives.
“I don’t really remember what my life was like without Alibrandi being a pretty big part of it,” Kick, 41, tells us.
Adds Miranda, 46: “It’s something I’m absolutely proud of and lucky to have been a part of because I definitely felt like, for years afterwards, all the roles I read were really the girlfriend role, which I didn’t suit and I didn’t fit into. And so, to have that first role with such a great kind of complicated, incredible character was just amazing to me.”
Based on Melina Marchetta’s 1992 novel, Looking for Alibrandi, the film, directed by Kate Woods, is a fearless coming of age story about teen love and surviving high school exams, while also taking a big bite into multiculturalism, identity and coping with loss. It also came with a rocking soundtrack.
“The shoot of Alibrandi went like a dream,” Greta Scacchi, 60, who plays Josie’s Italian-Australian mum, Christina, says from Los Angeles. “Pia and Kick were perfect casting! These two smart, young actors knew their roles inside-out and inhabited them completely. It made it so easy to play with them.”
Miranda and Gurry sit down to interview each other about making this classic movie…
Miranda: We definitely came of age as actors on the film, didn’t we?
Gurry: I remember Kate saying to me early on, “You’re the kind of actor who wants to just cruise and rest on your laurels and just do what you do.” And she said, “But, with this kind of movie, these kinds of performances take an incredible amount of work and you have to be ready for it and you have to do the work.”
That was a big mind-shift. Although they are movies, they’re important to people. And if you get them right they live, like this one has, for 20 years. We were lucky we had Anthony [LaPaglia]. He really was a huge mentor.
I remember him saying one day, “Fame and success in the movie business is just an amplifier. If you’re a d--k, you’ll just become a much louder and bigger d--k, but if you’re a good person, it’ll just give you more opportunities to do good and be an interesting person.”
Miranda: What are your memories of your first day on set?
Gurry: I don’t know if many people know this, but the original actor that was playing the character of John Barton [Matthew Newton] was an actor called Dan Spielman and he and I were great mates down in Melbourne. We got cast together in the movie for a whole year. And then two days before we started shooting, they suddenly realised that Dan was doing a play at the Sydney Theatre Company and he couldn’t do the film. So they organised a pre-shoot day for you and I to shoot the scene where we’re talking about John Barton’s death after I’ve bumped into you on the bus.
Miranda: On the ferry?
Gurry: Yeah, and we got on this ferry and started shooting it and the boat just randomly passed the Sydney Theatre Company and there was Dan waving to us from the end of the pier. You’re saying, “Well, he’s [John] dead. Nothing’s going to be all right”. And I’m like, “There he is”.
The day we shot that scene on the bus, I remember sitting there with my arm around you and Kate was sitting in front of us and she turned around and just said, “Your lives are never going to be the same”.
Miranda: There was times you could just feel we were making something special. You couldn’t put your finger on it, but you just knew it.
Gurry: We should talk about the motorcycle ride. Was that fun?
Miranda: The motorcycle was sitting on a trailer, which was being towed by a car.
Gurry: People were just driving past and pointing at us, giving us the finger. It didn’t look cool at all. The whole night was just really awkward and you thought, “This is so goofy”. And then you watch the movie and you just think, “Wow, that does look really cool, though.”
Gurry: Do you remember the scene where you whack Leeanna Walsman’s character, Carly, in the face with a book?
Miranda: On the other side of the book is a massive piece of foam. So, I could whack her really hard and Leeanna’s such a good sport, she didn’t care. I whacked her quite a few times.
Gurry: We shot a scene at an Oporto’s in Dee Why. I’d never had one.
I remember I got there two hours before we started shooting and I had an Oporto’s burger, a Bondi burger with chilli. I couldn’t believe it. I
was like, “This is unbelievable”. Later on, in 2000, I was in Sydney, I went and got an Oporto’s burger and was walking back to my house and Tom Cruise was living in the street I was staying in and he was standing out the front of my house. He looked up and he was like, “Hey, kid, I just saw your film. It was great.” He’d seen the film the night before and he loved it.
Gurry: They were pretty good at surrounding you with Italian authenticity, because Greta and Anthony were both of that world. And then they got your grandmother [Katia], Elena Cotta, from Italy, right?
Miranda: She couldn’t speak a lick of English. She had the most beautiful skin you’ve ever seen in your life and I’m like, “Elena, how do I get skin as beautiful as you?” And she’s a chain smoker and she looked at
me and went, “Smoke more.” That was it.
Gurry: Afterwards I moved to LA, and you went to drama school in New York ...
Miranda: I felt a lot of artistic pressure, so I went to New York, and then went to LA a few times, but I think you have to have a really strong level of drive to be there that I don’t have, possibly. I went to a few auditions and the vibe was terrifying. And I was also getting offered a lot of work at home. LA used to give me severe anxiety for some weird reason.
Gurry: I remember doing a radio interview 20 years ago for this movie and the question was, “OK, Kick and Pia, in one word, give us a reason why we’re going to love this movie”. And we were both like, “Wow, one word”.
I just looked at the guy and I said, “Pia”. And that really was it. People fall in love with you on the screen in that movie.
Miranda: You’re going to make me cry, Kick.
You can read the rest of our chat with the duo in this week's issue of WHO - OUT NOW