OLIVIA MUNN PRIDES herself on working with three powerful S names in Hollywood: Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, Steven Soderbergh in the film Magic Mike and Aaron Sorkin on HBO’s The Newsroom.
But to hear her tell it, she’s still an up-and-comer — and maybe a bit of a cheat.
“I kind of follow where they’re going, ‘Oh, (if they’re on board) then that’s probably a good script.’ It’s probably a cheat that way,” she joked in a recent interview. “You guys do the homework and then if I’m lucky enough to be able to work with you then I will.”
The 32-year-old actress has had a busy summer. Besides Magic Mike she has a new film out called The Babymakers, co-starring Paul Schneider, formerly of TV’s Parks and Recreation.
On The Newsroom she plays Sloan Sabbith, a business reporter at the fictional Atlantic Cable News where Jeff Daniels’ Will McAvoy has the flagship newscast. As in any Sorkin venture, there’s an intense amount of dialogue to spout out, often at a rapid-fire pace. Munn says her trick is to memorise not only her part, but also the other character’s lines to internalise the big picture.
“I refuse to be the person who is gonna come in and forget my line. Like if (Daniels) has to remember all this stuff and then be preparing for the next episode and all that dialogue then I’m going to do my best to come up to his bar,” she said.
Despite all that effort, Munn jokes about making the dreaded, hypothetical phone call to her mother to say her Hollywood dreams didn’t pan out: “Mum, I’m working at the Jamba Juice now. You get a free boost. And I probably could hook you up with another boost.”
Her mother is of Chinese descent but was born and raised in Vietnam. Munn’s parents split when she was young and she says her mother was a tiger mum. “I’m like, ‘You know, my white friends, their parents aren’t forcing them to play piano until 4am.’ She’s like, ‘Your white friends can’t play piano.’ I’m like, ‘OK, good note. Good argument, mum.’”
Munn says initially her mother wasn’t keen on the idea of her daughter going into showbiz.
“It took a long time to convince my Asian mother that I could do it because she believed that only one person in the world could become a movie star and that was Tom Cruise. She’s like, ‘You’re not Tom Cruise!’”
Now her mum is her biggest fan.
“She’s not quite a hoarder because hoarders collect everything. She just collects things with my face on it. It’s like these piles and piles.” Munn’s stepfather is a doctor and she says at his doctor’s office in Oklahoma there’s a life-sized, cardboard cutout of Munn on display. “It doesn’t need to be there, but it’s there.”