Profile: Leading Actor Giselle van der Wiel

Leading Australian actress Giselle van der Wiel, who has just been cast in two series shooting in the United States, is not as intimidating in person as one might expect. In a career that spans different mediums (TV shows like “Hendrix” with “Neighbours” actor Chelsea Jones) and characters (and Spanish exchange student in “In the Land Farthest From”), Giselle has built a reputation as a powerful presence in camera that would lead one to assume she’s overawing in person. In the best possible way, Giselle retains her strength upon our meeting but also possesses an incredibly personable nature that makes it no surprise her acting career continues to go from strength-to-strength.

We’re sitting down with Giselle to discuss two feature films in which she appears in critical roles, “On Halloween,” a new feature film with “2:22” actor Ezekiel Simat and “Reaching Distance,” with “Unbroken” actress Morgan Griffin. It’s the night after a glitzy film premiere and Giselle has just walked the red carpet with fellow Aussie A-listers. “All part of the routine of being an actor,” she says humbly, with a laugh. It could be easy to get distracted by talking about the behind-the-scenes glamour of a blockbuster premiere, but Giselle likes to focus on the work. So we resume our conversation about her upcoming projects and how she has achieved such great things in her eclectic career.

“I’m constantly working at growing as a person – I feel that unless I really know myself, and if I don’t experience life and meet new people, I can’t really grow as an actor.”

Giselle van der Wiel
Giselle van der Wiel on the red carpet for a film premiere.

When contacted about Giselle’s performance, “On Halloween” director didn’t need to be prodded to heap praise on Australia’s answer to Kristen Stewart. “Giselle has a crazy unique ability to own every frame she’s in,” Timothy Boyle enthusiastically explained.” There are moments where an actor gives more than you, as the writer and director, ever intended. It’s in these moments that the film takes on an extra level of depth. It’s what good actors do. It’s what Giselle did for me every day of the shoot.” Timothy, whose feature “The Half Dead” starred “Lord of the Rings” star John Rhys-Davies, clearly speaks from a position of authority. He goes on to compare Giselle’s unique appeal to that of other mega-star Australians Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and “Avatar” star Sam Worthington.

While we lose focus laughing about the ironically funny moments that come with shooting a horror film, we briefly touch on her key character in “Reaching Distance,” from award-winning director David Fairhurst. In the role of “Chell,” Giselle shares the screen with BAFTA-nominated actress Tara Morice, best known for her work opposite twice-Oscar-nominated Emily Watson and her part in Baz Luhrmann’s “Strictly Ballroom.” Giselle explains “the beautiful thing about this industry is that it’s really collaborative, so everyone’s connected and everyone knows each other. It helps everyone lift their game.”

On the topic of those two TV shows Giselle is due to start filming in the US, she has to stay quite mum. “Unfortunately I’m not able to go into too much detail about my characters, but I can say that my character’s name in “Masculinity in Crisis” season 2 is Joanna.” “Masculinity” series is an award-winning co-production between Joseph Gordon Levitt’s production company HitREcord and successful outfit Nix Film, and is distributed by Amazon Studios. Series creator and lead actor Alex Cubis (“Dear White People”) explains that Giselle was cast because there was no other actor who could play her role. “The character was specifically written to possess the ability to perform in Australian and American accents, and speak Spanish. Aside from her X-factor, Giselle was the only girl who auditioned who could play the role.”

When asked about her character in “Dipsticks,” Giselle laughs. “That project is going to be fun because it’s a comedy; I don’t want to reveal too much about that. But I’m really happy to have a chance to play a lead in a comedy series.” That series also stars NBC “Community” actor Dominik Musiol, so it’s safe to say that Giselle is in fine company when it comes to her career.

“I feel really lucky that I get to continue working in different countries and in different styles – that was always my goal when I started acting. I’m very grateful.”

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