Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
February 5, 2011

Over the past several years, Australian native Teresa Palmer has put together a steady resume of diverse roles in film: a suicidal teen in her acclaimed debut 2:37; a mean girl in her first American film, The Grudge 2; a young love opposite Daniel Radcliffe in December Boys; a seductive fugitive in Restraint; a spoiled socialite in the Disney family comedy Bedtime Stories; and a wide-eyed college sweetheart in the Jerry Bruckheimer action adventure The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Now, her visibility continues to soar with a pair of high-profile roles in back-to-back theatrical releases--first in the science fiction thriller I Am Number Four, then in the retro '80s comedy Take Me Home Tonight.

In Take Me Home Tonight, the year is 1988, and smart-but-listless youth Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) finds his life aimlessly drifting away as a video clerk at Suncoast. After a chance encounter with his high school crush, the stunningly beautiful Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer), he is encouraged to break out of his shell and seize life by his best friend Barry (Dan Fogler). With his twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris) in tow, Matt embarks on an uncharacteristically wild night of partying and self-discovery as he takes a shot at the girl of his dreams.

Serving as star, executive producer, and collaborator on the story, Topher Grace describes Take Me Home Tonight as a lost John Hughes film, in that the mission was to create a movie that felt like it was made in the '80s, rather than a contemporary spoof of the historic decade.

With I Am Number Four and Take Me Home Tonight opening within mere weeks of each other, we had the good fortune of speaking to Teresa twice in an eight-day span. In this installment of our exclusive interview series with her, we take a stroll down memory lane, with Teresa giving her impression of the '80s and recounting her own childhood nostalgia. You're obviously the baby of the group amongst the cast of Take Me Home Tonight, having been born in 1986. As a child of the '90s, what do you associate with the '80s? Or is there anything from the decade that you remember fondly?

TERESA: Well, learning to walk was really what I remember about the '80s! [laughs] Labyrinth--I watched that movie over and over and over and over. My whole youth I watched that. Actually, my dad...I would go to visit him on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the only three movies that he had were Grease, Labyrinth, and The NeverEnding Story. So they were the three films I just watched on repeat. He was like, "Watch one of these films..." And I was always so excited because I was such a big fan of them. But Labyrinth, really, is so '80s for me. And it was my first crush in that movie, David Bowie!

So much of the '80s was defined by the politics and pop culture of the United States and England of the time, and the running joke is that many other countries "got the '80s in the '90s." Was that the case with your home country, Australia?

We sort of did, to be honest. I mean, we're always a little bit behind in terms of the fashion and the culture--you know, a little bit behind America. So I remember in the early '90s, my mom was still rocking out in fluorescent tracksuit onesies and side ponytails and big scrunchies. And I think we were a little bit behind. But it was a great time in Australia. The economy was better everywhere, and that's great! [laughs] And music was such a huge part of that, and I remember listening to music as a young girl--all my mom's Madonna records, and Duran Duran. I mean, she was in her 30s in the '80s, and she was really into all that music. It was an exciting time. My sisters...I remember they had such crushes on Michael Jackson...MJ and David Bowie were my first two big loves. I wrote a love letter to Michael Jackson at 11 years of age. And he never replied! [jokes] And I didn't forgive him for that. [laughs]

What do you get nostalgic about from your own childhood?

I get nostalgic about cartoons. The Smurfs, Puff the Magic Dragon, Raggy Dolls...SuperTed...I loved SuperTed! The talking Teddy Ruxpin, Cabbage Patch dolls...That was the early '90s. And then all the board games, like Snakes and Ladders, and...What other one? Oh, Hungry Hungry Hippos! All of that stuff. I just loved that. And I used to watch The Simpsons with my dad. He would call them the Simpletons, I remember. And we would watch "The Simpletons" together and eat Pizza Hut. It was fun. That's what I get nostalgic [about].

Like Topher's character in the film, did you have any sort of transitional retail jobs as a teen?

Yes, I did! I mean, I did a lot of jobs before I started acting! My first job was at 14 for a year and a half, I worked at Burger King, and I was the drive-thru chick. But we call it Hungry Jack's in Australia. So I'd be like, "Welcome to Hungry Jack's Hawthorn, would you like to try one of our upgraded meals tonight? Only 50 cents!" That was my job. And then retail, I worked at this store called Supre for a year and a half...And then worked at Mambo Australia for a year, then worked at Cotton On. I was one of the managers at Cotton On...I'd be out in the front with the microphone in front of everyone at the mall, like, "Come on in, we have a special today, guys! We've got two T-shirts for $30! We also have the V-neck low-cut T-shirt going for only $45 today! A perfect value here, come on in!" [laughs] I was actually really good at that...So I did a lot of retail--probably about three and a half years worth of retail work.

You've always told us that you're not good at public speaking, but it sounds like you had no problem riling up a crowd salesman style...

Yeah! I was good at that, but as soon as I'm in front of a crowd of like 300 people and it's just me on a panel, I freeze up! I'm much better at it now. WonderCon was great, because I was really thrown in the deep end there, and I just had to know, half decent at what I was doing.

Your character Tori has very animated facial expressions. How did you decide that those mannerisms were best suited for her?

She's bouncy and she's warm and she's the girl that goes into a room and lights it up. And I think I wanted to embody a lot of that positivity and that bright spirit. And I'm very animated, the way I talk, usually. And I thought that I would just play quite a similar version of myself to play Tori.

I love the fact that music plays when she appears...

Yeah! [laughs]

If you had your own personal theme song following you around in life, what would it be?

Florence and the Machine, "Dog Days Are Over." I am obsessed with Florence! She gives me goose bumps every time I listen to her music. I mean, I'm beyond obsessed. I have her playlist here, and I listen to it every morning, and it just gets me into an amazing mood. I love that song. [ponders] What's another song I really love? Oh, "6 Underground," Sneaker Pimps...I think it's very sultry, and quite sexy. And that's for a whole different mood, but...

An Arnold Palmer is a non-alcoholic drink that's iced tea and lemonade. If there was a drink called a Teresa Palmer, what would it consist of?

Midori. Pineapple juice. Mango. Almond milk. And only because every morning I have a smoothie and it's mango. Because my two favorite fruits are mango and pineapple, and I always have almond milk with it. So I'd have that with a dash of cinnamon, and then put the Midori in to give you a little bit of a kick.

Very tropical of you.

Yeah, I'm very, very tropical. My juices are always tropical.

Continue to the next installment of our exclusive interview series with Teresa

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