Bella Heathcote on Filming ‘Pieces of Her’ and ‘Relic’ (Which Is as Terrifying as You’d Think)

Woman sitting in pink and red dress with black boots
Hannah Scott-Stevenson/Netflix

We caught up with Bella Heathcote, the Australian star of Netflix’s highly bingeable Pieces of Her to see how she’s handling Covid (just fine, but would really prefer not to endure your lame Aussie accent). Scroll down to get to know the actress like never before; but first, some basics:

  • Age: 34
  • Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
  • Go-to snack: Peanut butter. I could eat a jar every day.
  • Wedding day memory: Hobbling up to City Hall because I’d broken my leg a few weeks before.
  • L.A. faux pas: I was fresh off the boat from Australia saying, “Good morning” to everyone. People were like, “Who’s this fruit loop?”

Men’s Journal: You star as Andy alongside Toni Collette, who plays your mom with a dark past, in the series Pieces of Her. Will it dominate Netflix’s Top 10?

Bella Heathcote: I don’t know. But I think it’s really good, and usually I self-deprecate away anything I’m in. As of now, I’ve watched the first four episodes and I’m dying to know what happens next. And I know what happens next, which is a sign of a good thriller.

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There’s a badassery to your character, too.

Andy’s not some ninja from the get-go. She’s a girl who’s entirely out of her depth at the beginning and gets a level of street smarts as the episodes progress.

Did you enjoy fleeing through hidden passageways in the indie horror flick Relic?

No! That labyrinth stuff with the feeling of walls closing in? Terrifying. When you do a scary scene, you scream or hyperventilate. And you’re generating chemicals that make you feel like you’re in a distressed state. You trick your brain. And so I scared the crap out of myself in Relic.

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What does it mean being the second actor to win the Heath Ledger Scholarship?

I have a bunch of friends who were mates with Heath. And they say, “I won the first Heath Ledger Scholarship.” Meaning Heath let them sleep on his couch for a year when they first moved to America. Heath was known for being an incredibly generous man, so his family set up a scholarship that supports an up-and-coming Australian actor to try it out in L.A. each year. When I flew to California, I was a semi-finalist for the scholarship, but I didn’t know if I had won. But thank goodness I won, or I would have been screwed financially.

What’s your best broke-actor story?

I rented this car and the driver’s door didn’t close. I had to hold it shut. I remember being on the 101 freeway just screaming. I was holding the driver’s door shut and praying that I was on the right side of the road. Thank goodness there’s a sum of cash that comes with the scholarship. Australians in film are very supportive of each other.

What Aussie clichés won’t die?

“Throw a few shrimp on the barbie!” What drives me nuts is that we call them prawns. The word “shrimp” is a very American term. And some people do this bad accent while saying something an Australian would never say. Did it come from Crocodile Dundee?

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Dundee star Paul Hogan coined it in a tourism ad.

Hmmm. Do you know what else gets my goat? “A dingo stole my baby!”

How has the pandemic affected your life?

After wrapping Pieces of Her six months ago, I came back to Australia and it was full quarantine, the whole shebang. The quarantine hotel was surprisingly disturbing. But for 10 days I thought, “This is my calling. I’m meant to be a monk and not see people.” I had a rigid routine: get up, do a Zoom meeting, work out, prepare food, read, watch TV, FaceTime friends. And I was in heaven. But after four more days, I thought, “I might end things now.”

Got any advice for people facing quarantine?

You may think, “I should write my thesis.” But if you want to watch TV for 10 hours or read a book, follow your happy. Whatever will get you through.

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