Ladies In Black: Angourie Rice On The Beauty and Lure of The 1950s Department Stores [Exclusive Interview]

Department stores of the early half of the 20th century has a certain elegance and style in its operations.

Those days with female sales clerks behind perfume counters and clothing departments have their own unique culture and stigma. It marked the department store culture of Sears, Bloomingdale’s, Woolworth, Gottschalk’s and Nordstrom.

Although those clerks are still here today, it just doesn’t display the same feeling as it once was.

In Ladies in Black, it is set in Sydney in the summer of 1959, against the backdrop of Australia’s cultural awakening, breakdown of class structures and liberation of women. It tells the coming-of-age story of suburban schoolgirl Lisa, who while waiting for her final high school exam results with dreams going to the University of Sydney and takes a summer job at a large department store. Here she works side-by-side with a group of saleswomen who open her eyes to a world beyond her sheltered existence, and foster her metamorphosis.

The film stars Julia Ormond (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Angourie Rice (The Nice Guys) and Rachael Taylor (Transformers). The film is directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy). The screenplay is written by Beresford and Sue Milliken (Black Robe), based off the novel called The Women In Black by Madeleine St. John.

LRM Online exclusively corresponded with Angourie Rice on her role in the film. She was best known for her role as Holly March in The Nice Guys, playing as the spunky daughter to Ryan Gosling’s Holland March. She is making her mark in the industry with parts in Every Day, The Beguiled and as Betty in the upcoming Spider-Man: Far from Home.

Ladies In Black is now available on VOD and Digital Download.

Read our interview below.

LRM: What attracted you to this project with Ladies in Black?

Angourie Rice: I loved that this is a story about women, the difficulties they face and the decisions they make. I also really liked that it was a story set in Sydney at a time when both my grandmothers were living there as young women.

LRM: How good it was to do a period piece? I can’t imagine knowing about the department stores culture back then. Did you do any personal research on this?

Angourice Rice: Yes! I love the fashion from the 1950s and spent a lot of time looking at pictures from back then, not just of high fashion models but also of streetwear. I loved asking our costume designer, Wendy Cork, lots of questions about the costumes. Some of them were designed by her and made from scratch, but some of them were actual vintage dresses from the 50s. I loved talking to her about how and where she found those pieces.

LRM: How’s wearing those costumes and dresses?

Angourie Rice: It was incredible! I love connecting with history and storytelling through clothes, so I had lots of fun with that. Also, it was surprisingly comfortable!

LRM: Julie Ormond is a legend. You have a lot of screen time with her. How was it working with her?

Angourie Rice: She was inspiring to work with. So warm and generous. Also very professional, focused and thorough in her work. She is truly a beautiful person.

LRM: And the rest of the cast?

Angourie Rice: Everyone was so lovely! It was particularly nice that there were so many women in the cast, and so many really experienced actors.

LRM: Were there any particular challenges for you?

Angourie Rice: I was still in school at the time, which was a challenge. I had to take a day off filming to do an exam, which was quite stressful.

LRM: Your career is just starting out and you’ve accomplished quite a bit already. What are your future projects and what other roles do you have on your list you’d like to play?

Angourie Rice: There is so much that I would like to do. I’m particularly interested in finding roles like this one that speak directly to women and girls. I’d also love to work with Greta Gerwig. I think she’s a very talented writer and director.

Finally, you character struggled between the names of Lisa and Leslie. Which name did you prefer?

Angourie Rice: Hmmm, that’s an interesting question! I think the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident with your name. I think my character felt most confident being called Lisa, so I’d say that one suits her better.

Ladies In Black is now available on VOD and Digital Download.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

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Gig Patta

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.

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