With a riotous movie hitting theatres, cool-girl Rose Byrne is ready to let loose.
In Neighbors, she’s happily freed from playing the tight-lipped foil to other people’s antics. Variety proclaims that Byrne is “the most foul-mouthed matriarch this side of August: Osage County.” There are few better compliments than being able to out-curse Meryl Streep. “My style of improv is a little ephemeral,” she says. “Sometimes I can really tap in and other times I’m just absolutely terrible, so it is daunting. Seth is so effortless— he made me feel brave.”
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Courage is required to ad lib in a film that leans on risqué pranks. (Roll camera: Your baby finds a used condom! Convince two girls to make out in order to manipulate their boyfriends!) “My character is a reformed party girl who is trying to keep it together and is a little bit ditzy—you know, those airheads,” she says with a smirk. In fact, Byrne describes herself as “dreadfully disciplined.” “I don’t go out and party—I just don’t have the stamina. My nickname is Nana Byrne.”
Maybe that’s why her ideal Saturday night involves staying home and perfecting her still-shaky recipes for spinach pie and roast chicken. “I’m not a good cook, but seeing someone enjoy what you’ve made is so satisfying,” she says. Byrne has been dating smouldering actor Bobby Cannavale since 2012—quietly at first, and then she arrived as his date at the Emmys and the Boardwalk Empire actor thanked “the love of my life, Rose” during his acceptance speech for best supporting actor.
Byrne’s voice is as soft as velvet when she talks about him. I mention that the vibrant art in our cover shoot was inspired by the great romantic poets. “To be honest, I’m not naturally that much of a romantic person—Australians don’t like making a fuss,” she says with a sigh. “I have trouble with things that feel very manufactured, like Valentine’s Day. I’m trying to get better at romance.”
Nevertheless, Byrne and Cannavale are sharing the screen in the hugely anticipated Jay-Z-produced recasting of Annie. Byrne takes on the singing-and-dancing role of Grace, while Cannavale plays the scheming anti-hero. “I was initially nervous,” she says of the decision to work together. “Clearly, it could have not been a good idea, but it was very fun to have a really great friend on set. It was nice to share our day.”
Rose Byrne reveals what it's like to be a woman in Hollywood on the next page...