Actor Rose Byrne is best known for her role as Ellen Parsons on the series Damages and for her work in films such as the goddess of 1967, Troy, Bridesmaids, Mrs. America and Spy. Her brother, George, is a photographer whose large-scale studies of urban textures have an eerie clarity, rendering their subjects nearly abstract. Cultured caught up with the siblings to talk about growing up in Australia, being in Los Angeles and dream projects down the road.

When you were growing up, would you have imagined one another in the careers you’ve found?

Rose Byrne: Music was really George’s first love, he just loved the guitar. He was always in a band, always playing me music, introducing me to new music. Very much the head of music in our house. And then I remember as he got into high school, he became obsessed with certain artists and images, and it all really started to merge together with him heading off to art school for university. So, I did see that George was always going to be something creative.

George, same question, was Rose always the actress in the family?

George Byrne: 100%. Never a question. Rose benefited from having the laser beam early. It’s true you master things the more time you spend on them. Where I was flitting around, dipping my toe into different fields, Rose was passionate about performing from the beginning. Since she was a baby she was the entertainer of the family, the crack-up, the comedian, the impersonator—you could just wind her up and let her go at any moment, she was always ready.

Does home, where you grew up, ever factor into your work? And if it doesn’t, how did you get that distance?

RB: Of course! I think it’s intrinsic to performance for sure. Australian actors have to be thoroughbreds because we have to be able to do theater, television and film. It’s a very small industry over there, so you really have to be able to bounce across all the different mediums to sustain an interesting career. Australians have a unique sense of humor and unique sensibility—to be flexible, give anything a “go” and shift from one genre or profession to another. There is also something interesting about being a foreigner here, always being a little bit of an alien.

GB: My whole practice is based on being a foreigner in an alien landscape, that’s the starting point of every series. Being from Australia, I think there is always a need to be outdoors. We grow up at the beach or in the bush, we are inclined to travel, and my work has a lot to do with discovery of new places and ways of seeing. I have a gallery in Sydney, and going back and forth really keeps me linked to home culturally.

How does where you live now factor into the work you do?

GB: Well for me, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t moved to the United States. My whole practice right now is focused on exploring the landscape of Los Angeles, so being here is integral to my work. Coming here and having that reaction to the landscape was just an experience of pure intrigue, I was just really obsessed with it from the first day I got here. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it initially, but over the years, continuously shooting it and putting the pieces together and developing a style and series, I owe a lot to the city for what I’m doing.

RB: Well, this year we’ve been kind of living on the road, but I’ve been living in the States for a long time, and it factors in a lot. My children were born in America, I’m married to an American [actor Bobby Cannavale]. George and I were just discussing this today, the wildness of America—it’s just enthralling and endlessly enticing.

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