Australian actor-environmentalist Liana Werner-Gray talks to Madhur Tankha about bagging the lead role in Hollywood film ‘The Man in the Maze' that comes out in English and Hindi in theatres across India this coming Friday….
Excited about the impending release of her movie, produced and directed by non-resident Indian Mitesh Kumar Patel, Liana Werner-Gray says she could easily empathise with her character Megan who happens to be an Australian beauty queen. “I too am a model and had the fortune of representing Queensland in Miss Earth Australia in 2009. My character Megan is settled in the U, and even I shifted my home from Australia to New York.”
Liana also shares other similarities with her character. Megan is an outdoor girl and camping is her favourite hobby. “I too have an adventurous streak. In Australia people take time out of their busy schedules to participate in excursions. Camping and getting dirty (meaning being out in the open without the luxury of a shower) is part of our lives.”
The film portrays a slice of life from a particular period in American history. The Man in the Maze is about college friends who undertake an excursion to learn more about the American-Indian trail of tears. While travelling deep into the woods, they stumble upon the burial site of a Native American family that died on the trail. A distraught family member placed a curse on the burial mound, and so whoever disturbs it would be terrorised by an unknown force. Megan is determined to do anything to get out of the woods.
Since the film has been made against the backdrop of Native Americans who were driven away from their homes, Megan knew she had a lot of reading to do. “The truth is that they were subjected to a lot of atrocities. Such acts are shameful wherever they take place. My heart goes out to all those people living in different corners of the world who have been forcibly evacuated from their homes. Through this film I am, in a way, paying homage to the Native Americans.”
A mix of thrill, suspense and adventure, the film is ideal for people who enjoy watching mystery films, says the actor. It was made on a moderate budget of Rs.3 crore, and besides Liana stars her real-life husband Andrew Roth, Erik A. Williams and Stephanie Lomenick.
Another American movie of Liana titled Backwater is about a couple who go to the US on a camping trip. “A different side of me will be revealed in this film.”
Liana's upcoming movie Moon Men , to be shot in India, will be a remake of Dracula . She will essay Mina Harker. Through this project she will get another chance to explore the country.
This is Liana's second trip to the country and she says she is already in love with it. “I like the fact that Indians lead their lives in a traditional sort of way. I'm a big foodie so I enjoy eating daal, chawal and green veggies. I have been following social activist Anna Hazare's movement against corruption and admire him.”
As an actor, the vibrant colours and song-and-dance numbers of Bollywood films fascinate her. “I enjoy watching romantic Hindi films and my favourite actors are Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan. My female role model in Indian cinema is the charismatic Katrina Kaif.”
As founder of I Love Earth, an organisation designed to educate school children on the need to reduce our carbon footprint, Liana has been globe-trotting over the years. “Greenhouse gases are being emitted in huge quantities in developing countries like India. In Australia too there is greenhouse emission, but it is relatively low.”
She is also ensuring that people have a healthy heart by recommending a vegetarian diet and organic meat. “I take food classes in New York as I want to ensure that people eat healthy and live healthy. We must stop eating processed food. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and drinking lot of juices are recommended.”