In “Patti Cake$,” Australian actress Danielle Macdonald stars in the lead role as aspiring New Jersey rap artist Patricia Dombroski (aka Patti Cake$) as she searches for a way to break into the industry despite lacking the support and resources she needs. During a recent interview with me, Macdonald talked about what drew her to the character and what it’s been like as a fairly new actress in Hollywood.
What resonated with you most when you read the script?
I understood that it was an underdog story and a story about finding who you are, but it was different than anything I had ever seen because someone with a musical background like [filmmaker] Geremy [Jasper] was behind it. I really related to Patti’s drive and passion. [The role] really terrified me and I knew it was going to be a challenge, which was also appealing to me in a way.
Patti has daydreams of becoming a famous rapper. When you came to Hollywood a few years ago, did you have those sorts of expectations of becoming a big movie star?
I tried to have zero expectations of what the industry would be like. When I was younger, I dreamed of being an actor and getting to play different characters. This industry has its own language, so just coming out and learning that was the first thing I did. Having no expectations is a great way to go into the industry because you never know what’s going to change from day to day. It’s very unpredictable. That’s what keeps it exciting. If you like stability, you should not be an actor.
Have you experienced the cutthroat nature of the industry yet?
I have in a sense because there is a lot of rejection. At the same time, I don’t necessarily see it as cutthroat. The reality is, I’m not going to be right for [every role]. Different people bring different things to a character. It’s nothing personal. It’s about the character and that’s OK. You learn to stretch yourself, especially when you play a role like this. I felt so different from Patti. I really had to learn to walk and talk differently. And I had to learn how to rap!
Now that this film has wrapped, if someone asked you to perform as Patti Cake$ on stage, is that an idea you would entertain?
(Laughs) I would never perform as myself, but if there was a specific reason why they wanted to see me as Patti, I think that might be fun. But it would still terrify the crap out of me because performing live in front of people is very scary.