Director Taika Waititi‘s comedy “Eagle vs. Shark” probably received one of the biggest Sundance compliments to be had… On an uber jam-packed party night, swarms of movie-goers and would-be movie-goers instead crowded the sidewalk in front of the Egyptian Theater on Main Street hoping to see the first feature from the otherwise relatively unknown filmmaker. For those who managed to get in, the laughs were plenty and it seemed everyone hung around for the Q&A following the feature, which Miramax will release in the U.S. on Friday, June 15. A heaping amount of praise was reserved for the film’s co-star, New Zealand actress Loren Horsley, who plays an awkwardly shy cashier at a fast-food restaurant who has a crush on an electronic store clerk who works across the way.
At the SXSW Film Festival in March, iW caught up with Ms. Horsley, who had been traveling since January with her friend Taika Waititi in support of the film.
I’ve known [Waititi] since I was 16,” said the very affable Horsley at Austin’s Four Seasons Hotel. “We live in a tiny community [in New Zealand] and have had a long creative relationship along with others including [co-star] Jermain Clement.” Horsley’s portrayal of the loveable Lily in the film left charmed festival audiences in Park City, Austin & Berlin in stitches, but she didn’t have to look far for her inspiration in playing the lead character. “I based her on people I knew in high school. I grew up in a conservative area and I just started her using that [background]. And then we just took it from there…”
Both Horsely and Waititi traveled the festival circuit with “Eagel vs. Shark” becoming temporary ex-pats in the U.S. and Germany, though Horsley looked forward to returning to home in New Zealand where she’s an active participant in the local scene. “At home, we have a film collective. It’s something we do that’s a passion for the community.” The collective is also an outlet for Horsley to nurture her inner-artist between more “official” gigs. “There are only a few scripts per year in New Zealand.”