Taking the windy path: Tess Haubrich by Pierre Toussaint and Noelle Faulkner
PHOTOGRAPHER: Pierre Toussaint
STYLIST: Karla Clarke
HAIR AND MAKEUP: Gavin Anesbury
FASHION ASSISTANT: Nichhia Wippell
WRITTEN BY: Noelle Faulkner
Without spoiling too much, it would seem that for most of her career, Sydney-based actress Tess Haubrich has been typecast as the girl that, well, dies.
We won’t reveal which film(s) but spanning her most notable (and highly physical) performances in Alien: Covenant, Wolf Creek (TV), Bleeding Steel, Nekromancer, Infini and Home and Away, let’s just say there aren’t many where she makes it to fin. She’s assured us, however, that that is changing. “I’m really thrilled about that,” she laughs. “There was a point where my family and friends were telling me they can’t watch my head get ripped off or see me blow myself up anymore.” It doesn’t change the role, of course. Her characters don’t know the fate on the page, she points out. “I just try to make it feel real so that when they die it’s a surprise… Oh. God.” She laughs. “That’s morbid isn’t it?” The 28-year-old admits she isn’t afraid of death, so playing a character with a sealed fate is not as daunting as it might be to other actors. In fact, death is a fascinating element of life to her. But then again, Haubrich’s lifeline has been dotted with twists and turns more than once –she’s an adaptable being, arguably the marking of a great actor.
“Acting was the only thing I ever wanted to do,” she says. “So I never questioned [the pursuit]. But it definitely didn’t happen overnight.” Getting her start as a young model, while auditioning for roles and attending acting school, Haubrich lived a life of what one can really only describe as simultaneous rejection, before giving up the former for fear of being pigeonholed as a slashie and in-turn, a less serious actor. “Both are difficult careers,” she says. “But with acting, it’s a craft and you’re judged on more than your looks – you can go so much deeper. It’s funny because it’s you, but it’s also not you.” Eight years of auditioning for major productions later, and a breakout role in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant arrives, followed by a stellar role alongside Jackie Chan (and a chance to train with his personal stunt team – an experience she laughs, that has rendered standard gym classes lame, ruining them forever for her) in Bleeding Steel and Monica Belluci in the upcoming Nekromamcer.
“I’d actually had a baby three months before that and I was breastfeeding all the time,” she says of Alien. “I could hardly think, but at least Ridley was so supportive. The physicality wasn’t insane, but I did a lot of walking and we had two weeks of boot camp and training with all our weapons. But I was very exhausted.” Juniper, Haubrich’s daughter, is now two and had Haubrich listened to the powers in charge of her career –she wouldn’t exist. As, like many young actors before her, the clichéd advice given to Haubrich when she broke the news to her manager was to terminate the pregnancy. “When I got pregnant, my manager in LA fired me,” she reveals. “But I just kind of didn’t care –I had stopped caring. I had a lot of people close to me telling me they didn’t think having a baby was a good idea and that my career would be over… But then I had Juni, was out of the industry for a year, auditioned for Alien and got it.” Unlike many of the women that walk red carpets alongside her, hushed for their work/life decisions or bravely vocal about their sacrifices, Haubrich’s refreshing outlook seems to be the crank in the wheel driving her. “Before I had my daughter, I only wanted to act and acting was my baby,” she says. “But now it’s changed – she’s my life, my priority and acting is my love but also my work – and I’ve been lucky that’s worked out well for me. I guess sometimes something real happens in life and you just have to put the right energy into it.” Buddhists believe that with each life comes decision and with each death, a lesson. For Haubrich, it seems that with each death, karma simply sees her reborn into even bigger and better roles…