Why Liv Hewson is the actor & advocate you need to know about in 2020
Australian actor Liv Hewson represents a new wave of talent that use their platform to raise awareness – both on and off-screen. Both of their most recent roles have something to say, and so does Hewson: identifying as non-binary and being an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. They regularly share advice pieces, quotes and memes relating to the issues they are passionate about on their Instagram page.
Currently Hewson also represents the community on Netflix, starring as a queer character in Christmas movie Let It Snow, a modern-day festive tale with an all-star cast. Netflix has a special place in Hewson’s heart, as the platform initially launched their career with comedy series Santa Clarita Diet.
Now, Hewson is branching out into Hollywood with the highly-anticipated drama Bombshell, making them a definite name to watch this new decade. Bombshell, which stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie in the lead roles, shines a light on the accounts of several women at Fox News as they set out to expose CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Hewson plays Lily Balin, a fictional character who works as an assistant for Fox news anchor Megyn Kelly (Theron).
We spoke to the young actor to find out what being a Netflix regular is like, what they learnt from their A-list colleagues in Bombshell, and why it’s important to use the voice you’ve been given to make a difference…
2019 has been a pretty big year for you – Let It Snow launched on Netflix last month and your upcoming movie Bombshell is coming out soon – how does that feel?
It’s interesting because they couldn’t be more different. One of them is a Christmas rom-com and the other is a drama about sexual harassment. But they’re both projects I loved working on and I am super attached to, so it’s exciting. It’s funny that when you film something, you have to wait for a year for it to come out, so it’s great to be able to finally share them with people.
What was it like to be a part of another Netflix production following your work on Santa Clarita Diet?
Netflix is a lovely place to work for and Let It Snow was a lot of fun to film because it was a group of all these 20-somethings making a very fun movie together in Toronto. I was so happy to come back to working with Netflix and really enjoyed making this film.
What did you enjoy most about working on Let It Snow?
I didn’t go to university and filming this made me experience a bit of what it might have been like. We were all staying in the same hotel, in a city we’re not from, doing this work together, and on our days off we were all hanging out. It was a very social, dorm-environment almost.
Jacket Lisou, Shirt Penshoppe
Why should people watch Let It Snow this holiday season?
I think it’s very special and has a lot to offer an audience. I’ve heard it being described as ‘if Love Actually and The Breakfast Club had a baby’ and I love that description. Luke Snellin, the director, also used those films as reference points for us. It has a very grounded, beautiful coming-of-age feeling that balances out the symbolism of a holiday film. There’s a real universality to it that I think people will really enjoy.
What do you enjoy watching on Netflix yourself?
I’m a massive BoJack Horseman fan, so back when the most recent season dropped, that’s what I spent all day doing. Then I love Derry Girls. It’s one of my favourite shows and I think I’ve watched it three times now. I’m also really into sketch comedy so I really enjoyed I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.
Then Bombshell, can you talk me through your role in that?
I play a character called Lily Balin, who isn’t directly based on a real person, unlike most other roles in the film. That kind of took the pressure off for me, because so many characters in the film are 1:1 real people. I didn’t get away entirely prosthetics-free, but I didn’t have to worry about matching a real person, which was relieving.
The person I play is Megyn Kelly’s (Charlize Theron) assistant. In the FOX news world, her production team consist of me and Julia Clarke who is played by my friend Brigette Lundy-Paine. We represent team Megyn.
The movie focuses on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, which of course is a really important and timely topic right now.
Suit Stylists own
Was that a reason why you wanted to be a part of this project?
Of course. I didn’t know very much about the events the film is based on before we were shooting. That was very interesting to me because it’s so recent, it’s set over 2015-16 which feels like a week and also like ten years ago. But I didn’t know much about it, and I have a feeling that a lot of people don’t know much about this particular series of events either.
It’s interesting that we’re having this massive cultural conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace but I didn’t know anything about this world. That was really compelling to me when we started making the film.
How did you prepare for the film?
We all did a lot of talking to each other. Charles Randolph, the writer, had a library’s-worth of research from writing the film, so he always had things to recommend to all of us. We shot this in November 2018, and while we were filming there was also a documentary being made about the issues. It wasn’t available yet but they were kind enough to send the director, Jay Roach, a link to a copy of it, so all of us got to watch it.
Everyone was doing their own research and then telling everybody else about it. When I think about what making Bombshell was like ‘collaborative’ is one of the first things I think of. Everyone was being encouraged to share and try different things. It was a really open environment.
What was it like working alongside actors like Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman?
It was incredible. Mind-blowing. It’s sort of hard to describe. Obviously, they are incredible performers, but the best thing about working with that team was how focussed and hands-on-deck everyone was. And just ego-less. Everyone just came to work, so I learned a great deal.
You identify as non-binary and openly talk about LGBTQ issues – how important is it for you to use your platform to raise awareness for things that matter to you?
It’s definitely very important to me. A platform is never guaranteed and it’s an opportunity – so while I’m being given it, I want to make sure I’m using it to the fullest, most helpful extent that I can.
Dress Bella Dahl
What are the main things you think the industry still needs to learn?
I just really want to encourage people to identify things they are curious about and then learn more on their own. Of course, it’s important to have questions and have conversations with people who can answer those questions, but I really want to emphasize that you can also go out and do learning on your own.
With LGBT issues there’s decades worth of history you can learn and engage with. And nothing makes me happier than when someone goes away and learns more on their own, and then comes back and wants to talk to me about those things. That’s what excites me more than anything else.
What kinds of films with LGBT characters would you like to see in the near future?
I want LGBT people to exist in any kind of film. Like I’d love there to be a sci-fi film about space pirates that also has lesbians in it. And it would be cool to make an all-woman, lesbian Reservoir Dogs. That would be fun.
When did you realise acting was something you wanted to pursue?
I’m really lucky, I knew really early. I was in my first play when I was about nine and from then on, I knew that this was it. I had this certainty about it from a really young age.
What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
Make your own stuff. Don’t wait for somebody to offer you something. If you have the free time, just start making stuff.
Which films does everyone need to have seen in their lifetime?
I think about this in two different ways because there are films that you could watch over and over again, and then there are some that are so powerful and affecting that you can never watch them again. The 1996 Romeo and Juliet is a film I could watch forever, so that would be one. Eighth Grade made me cry harder than I’ve ever cried in a film in a cinema in my life. It did something to me, it was really powerful, and I don’t know that I could ever watch it again.
What can we expect from you in 2020?
There’s a couple of things, but unfortunately, I don’t know how much I can say about them. For the time being, there are things in the works and we will see how things go. I’m looking forward to 2020 very much.
Let It Snow is available to stream on Netflix now, and Bombshell is out in UK cinemas 24 January 2020.
Interview Cailin Klohk
Photographer Magdalena Wosinska
Makeup Elie Maalouf
Location The Hollywood Hotel