Challis and Cooke: Actors Talk Making ‘Memories’ and Movies

Sitting with Australian actors Alistair Cooke and Mia Challis, it’s easy to forget that we’re here to talk about work, such is the fun energy they both bring into a room. After quickly discussing how they like to spend their weekends however, an assistant director reminds the actors that they’re due on set in another 30 minutes. Both quickly start sharing details about the project that’s brought everyone to set this week. ‘Memories,’ a film produced by Lachlan Ward (who has most recently found success with the film ‘Quiche’, which won the Drama Award at the Deep Cut Film Festival in Canada) and helmed by acclaimed director Cassandra Lionetto-Civa, is a perfect example of a project that manages to assemble an accomplished cast, a distinguished creative team and a unique story.

Actors Alistair Challis and Mia Cooke
Actors Alistair Cooke and Mia Challis shot by David Attwell

Lead actor Alistair, who plays Tim, offers some insights into ‘Memories’ storyline. “Without giving too much away, the film is set in the not too distant future where accessing and viewing people’s memories has become a reality.” His co-lead Mia, who plays Charlotte, is equally discerning about revealing the plot completely, but did tell our editors that it’s a “sci-fi love story.”

Aside from what is clearly a fascinating blend of genres, ‘Memories’ also reflects how an accomplished cast can elevate a project’s esteem. Cooke, who made his debut in Ben C Lucas’ award-winning feature film ‘Wasted on the Young’ opposite ‘The Originals’ star Oliver Ackland, played the critical role of Young Hammers in the SBS mini-series ‘Deep Water’. It was in that series, which only aired just recently to high acclaim, where Alistair shared the screen with ‘Orange is the New Black’ Screen Actor’s Guild winner Yael Stone. He adds: “[w]atching that woman work was incredible and so inspiring.”

Of course, being the talented actor he is, Alistair is firmly grounded in the present and not focused too much on the past. He describes current co-star Mia as “something else. During the course of our first job together I soon discovered she was a natural talent, a true professional and a force to be reckoned with. We clicked immediately and I now consider her a great friend.” Mia, whose exotic looks seem to blend the innocence of Natalie Portman with the fierceness of Jennifer Lawrence, interrupts. “Working alongside Alistair was a pleasure; I learnt a lot from him and had the best time too. He’s very talented and we clicked straight away which was a bonus!” Mia elaborates that she originally recognised Alistair from his key role as Jake in the international hit series ‘The Horizon,’ which has garnered over 54 million views worldwide.

Although Mia may have been somewhat star-struck, she is an established actor in her own right, currently juggling three projects. Along with ‘Memories’, she is currently filming ‘Backstabbers’, directed by Lauren Mazzucato and ‘The Twincident’ directed by Blake Thomson, playing identical twins Claire and Evelyn in what will surely be a funny turn in her growing body of work. When asked who was crazy enough to represent her and her busy schedule, she laughs.

Alistair: “her manager actually is crazy!”

Mia: “in a good way!”

Alistair: “she’s exactly how you would imagine a Hollywood manager to be!”

Mia and Alistair’s chemistry is proven as the stars proclaim, “[w]e have the same American manager!” launching into a discussion about their different representatives around the world.

Actress Mia Cooke
Actress Mia Challis in ‘Memories’ (photo by: David Attwell)

Most importantly, both Alistair and Mia shed light on how actors’ own traits can inform character development. Mia tells us about Charlotte: “We actually have quite a lot in common; we both can be pretty awkward and really don’t have a clue how to flirt! She is a character that cares deeply for others, isn’t afraid to take chances and follows her heart.” Regarding Tim, Alistair explains that “Tim throws himself into everything he believes in and that’s a trait that really resonates with me. I’m a passionate guy and I can really relate to his way of thinking and drive in life.”

Actors Mia Cooke and Alistair Challis on set
Actors Mia Challis and Alistair Cooke on set of ‘Memories’ (photo by: David Attwell)

While ‘Memories’ might explore the challenging terrain of technology and the questions it raises about our society’s future, the film is nevertheless grounded in a very human story. It certainly would’ve helped that the actors were guided in their direction by celebrated filmmaker Cassandra Lionetto-Civa, who beat out an incredibly competitive field to win the open category at the Hip on Heritage Film Festival in Perth, Australia just last year. It’s therefore no surprise that ‘Memories’ is fielding countless distribution options to screen right around the world.

So what’s next for these screen stars?

Alistair tells us: “I am going straight into rehearsals for my next film. A black comedy that follows an unusual friendship between an armed robber and the man he is holding hostage.”

Mia explains that she can’t talk too much about her upcoming project, but she is allowed to share some funny details.“I’ve actually just started filming a new project where I play a character that is the polar opposite of Charlotte. She is a high school student who is the leader of a group of girls who murder some of their classmates with stilettos!”

Whatever is coming up for them filming wise, audiences can rest assured that ‘Memories’ will live up to its hype and challenge us all about love and the future of technology.

 

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