Liv Hewson is just trying to stay present. The non-binary Australian actor is coming off the back of a five month shoot in Canada for season three of Yellowjackets when they speak to RUSSH, and Hewson is using this brief break to catch up with old friends, read and wedge in some well-deserved rest. While filming this season, they've felt themself become more self-assured, confident and willing to take up space on set, and to notice this evolution is gratifying.
Below, Liv Hewson talks the importance of keeping in touch with how much of a person everyone is, a world without the internet, and the last time they cried at the cinema. Find our conversation, underneath.
How's your day so far? What are you getting up to while you're in Australia?
I'm based out of the states but I'm in Australia for the first time in a while. Between one thing and another, I accidentally didn't visit home for the last like two years. So it's nice to be back. We finished filming in Canada for Yellowjackets last month. I have to go to the states to do press soon, so right now it's a lot of doing the rounds, seeing friends I haven't caught up with in a long time, city-hopping and just decompressing before the roller coaster starts again.
Did you go to any WorldPride events?
I just missed it. I got in as it was starting. And then I like lay down on a couch in Canberra and never left. I was thrilled to to be able to watch it happen through the Instagram Stories of literally everyone I know.
What's the first thing we should know about you?
That I'm non-binary. It's nice for people to know that sooner rather than later. And it is nice if people know that without me having to tell them, although that doesn't happen super often. But that that is the starting point for me a lot of the time.
What was your experience of coming out in Hollywood like?
I was closeted professionally for a few years in my early 20s – like out privately but not publicly – because I thought that I had to do that in order to have a career. Then it gradually dawned on me that not only did I not have to do that, but that I actually couldn't. It wasn't sustainable. It was quite bad for me. So in being more explicit with my identity publicly, and being more honest, and joining those bits of my life, I'm still figuring out what the lay of the land actually is because that's only happened in recent years. I'm much happier. I think me being happier and more confident makes me better at my job.
STRATEAS CARLUCCI jacket, skirt and pants; VETEMENTS shoes; SENER BESIM jewellery.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don't think there is a typical day. I move around a lot and I love that. That's one of my favourite things about my job is the sort of variety of experience.
Do you ever feel a sense of whiplash moving from months of filming to weeks of downtime?
Constantly, but I think there's something about my personality that is quite suited to that, at this stage of my life anyway. I really enjoy the inherent disruption; the periods of great activity and then periods of great rest. I think having a steady routine would feel bad for me.
Wait, what's your star sign?
My god it sure does.
What's your first memory of the movies?
It doesn't exist anymore, but there was a really cool independent theatre called Electric Shadows in Canberra and my mum took me to go see The Wizard of Oz.
Tell me about how you first got into acting?
I knew pretty early that I wanted to be an actor. As a teenager, I was doing theatre stuff with a theatre company in Canberra and that's where I learned how to act. Pretty early on I was like 'yeah, I'm just going to do that'. There was never really any doubt about that. For me it was always, 'I'm just gonna make this work'. There was no alternative.
I think a couple of teachers were maybe a bit bemused by me. They were always like 'okay sure, but what else?' I think I always felt an ability internally where I knew I could do it. It always felt quite simple. There was something straightforward about it.
ACNE STUDIOS jacket, shirt and pants; stylist's own shoes.
Is there something satisfying about a series like Yellowjackets where you can see the progression from when you started to where you are now?
It's incredibly satisfying and so gratifying. I'm more certain of myself, I am more willing to take up space quicker and easier. And I feel more strength as a person and as a performer. This job has made me a lot more confident. And that's something that I felt particularly this season, as opposed to last season.
You've worked with Nicole Kidman, Drew Barrymore, Margot Robbie – all these heavyweights. Is there anything you've picked up from them?
It's always such a pleasure to watch an incredibly skilled performer work. In every instance it's been invaluable to me to watch how actors like that conduct themselves on a set too. To do the job and do it well is one thing, but then what is the working environment that you create? And how do you create that? So I did a lot of paying attention and still do.
When was the last time you cried at the movies?
I cry in movies a lot. But I have to say, Aftersun. That got a very strong reaction out of me. Whatever Charlotte Wells does forever now, I'm onboard. I'll follow her for the rest of time.
A.W.A.K.E MODE top and pants; BOTTEGA VENETA shoes.
What is your dream role?
I really like variety and I like a challenge. I'm quite greedy, I think. I want to be able to do the kind of work that pushes me, excites me and surprises me.
Is there someone you call every day?
There's not someone that I call every day, but there are people I text everyday. The person that I text everyday is a very old friend, we met in like year 11 or 12.
Keeping up these relationships across continents is amazing but it's not without its challenges. However, I find the relationships that survive are the kind of people you can pick back up where you left off with. There are people who I'm regularly in touch with even when I'm not physically with them. But there are also people who I will not have spoken to for months, and then I'll be in town and it'll be the same feeling of intimacy.
Do you have any idols?
I don't know that I have any idols. I have people that I really admire, that I look up to, or things that I want to emulate. But I really try to stay in touch with how much of a person everyone is, you know? That's valuable to me as well, to feel that everybody's human and complex and flawed and working on their own stuff. Then that is also useful for me because it helps me be more compassionate with myself.
What's inspiring your world right now?
I'm reading a book right now that a bunch of people whose tastes I really trust have been raving about. It's called Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I'm almost halfway through and I'm obsessed with it. I just want to like crawl in there and live in it, you know?
Next I have a couple of non-fiction things. There is a book called The Body in Pain by Elaine Scarry that I read half of in 2020 and then had to put down because it's so dense. But I'm keen to go back. Then I found Understanding Popular Culture by John Fiske in a secondhand bookstore. It was published in the 90s, I believe, so I was really interested in reading a book about popular culture that wasn't about the internet at all.
STRATEAS CARLUCCI jacket and pants; ACNE STUDIOS shoes; SENER BESIM jewellery.
Are you sick of the internet at the moment?
I just don't think it matters as much as we think it matters. We sort of talk about it as though it's this permanent, essential force in the world and it's just not. It hasn't always existed, we do not need it to live. There was a world before it and there would be a world after it if it went away tomorrow. That feeling is interesting to me at the moment.
You keep a low profile on social media, is that a deliberate thing on your end?
I was a bit more forthcoming in my early 20s, but particularly in the last year or so I've wanted to be more removed just for my own sanity. I think about what it's for, and for me it's a professional tool. But I want people to be engaging with my work first so it's got to be in service of that. I mean, it's useful to stay in touch with my friends who are not in the same country, but that doesn't need to be in front of everybody.
I just evaluated what I'm actually using it for, and the role that I want social media to have in my life and I realised that the role was smaller than it had been in the past. But I've enjoyed backing off a little actually. It's not that there's anything wrong with being expressive online, but I think I just realised that I didn't actually have to be online. And once I didn't feel as though I had to, I was able to realise that I didn't actually want to either.
You're a screenwriter too. Are you writing anything at the moment?
It's been so long since since I've shared anything or finished anything that I wanted to share but I'm always tapping away at stuff for my own amusement privately.
In the more recent past, I've felt a bit shy and withdrawn about writing. I didn't know what I wanted to say or what I wanted to do. But I'm tossing it up. I'm thinking about it again and scratching away at some stuff on my own. so we'll see.
STRATEAS CARLUCCI coat; 16 ARLINGTON pants; BALENCIAGA shoes.
What clothes are you drawn to?
All of my clothes are from op shops. It's important to me that things are really well made and built to last; stuff that's lined or reinforced or stitched nicely. Part of that is fabric that feels good. I really stay away from acrylic, polyester stuff. It's quite sensory for me I think. But I like good tailoring. I like clothing that has like weight and heft and that I can keep and take care of for a long time.
What are you wanting out of 2023?
I want to be present for all of it. I want to be able to enjoy all of it. I want to make the most of it as it's happening to me. I don't want to rush past it. I don't want to be in my own head during it. I don't want to miss something because I wasn't paying attention. I just want to be in it. The whole time. That's my goal.
I think it's really important to let yourself enjoy things as they're happening to you. Because I think it's very easy to only let yourself trust that something was pleasant in hindsight. I think it's quite common to look back on an experience and realise that it was really good. But I want to be able to know that while it's going on. I don't want to be stressing about something else.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
You can feel the way you feel and punish yourself for it. Or you can feel the way you feel and not punish yourself for it. But either way you're going to be feeling how you feel no matter what.
PHOTOGRAPHY Amelia Dowd @ Viviens Creative
FASHION Emma Boseley
TALENT Liv Hewson
MAKEUP & HAIR Phoenix Ly
PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT Wynona Stock
ASSISTANT Bella Loke
LOCATION All Time Studios