Byrne, baby Byrne

published september 10, 2007

Byrne, baby Byrne

Actress confronts gory scenes in Just Buried


paul till/for metro toronto

Actress Rose Byrne

Visiting funeral homes, meeting undertakers and looking at pictures of autopsies.

It’s all in a day’s work for Australian actress Rose Byrne, as she prepared for her role in Canadian Chaz Thorne’s black funeral comedy, Just Buried, screening at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

A warped comedy about sex, greed and death, Just Buried centres around Oliver Whynacht (played by Canadian Jay Baruchel), a young man terrified of death who inherits his father’s funeral home. With business slow and the home on the verge of being shut down, one accidental death leads to a darkly funny killing spree as business starts to pick up.

Byrne, who has starred in big-budget films Troy and Marie Antoinette, plays Roberta, the enigmatic mortician and Oliver’s love interest and accomplice, and admits she had a hard time filming the more gory scenes.

“I had to remind myself that Roberta would not be grossed out about that at all because I kept kind of naturally squirming and Chaz was like, ‘You’ve got to be totally oblivious and blasé — just like you’re making a cup of tea or something,’” Byrne says and laughs. “So I tried to do to that, but even though it was all fake, you know, I’m still (gagging). I can’t even look at a piece of raw chicken.”

Byrne admits filming the movie made her think about her own mortality and says there can be a benefit to dealing with a heavy subject like death in a comedic way.

“Comedy is just God’s gift. I think it can make everything accessible, it can ease all pain … It’s probably one of the most important things in life, I think, in a way, to be able to laugh at things. It’s such a wonderful gift that we have, so I think with any subject to deal with it through comedy is … a really powerful way to get it discussed and thought about,” Byrne says.

And while she’s worked on both blockbuster films and smaller films like Just Buried, Byrne says it’s all part of being an actor.

“It’s funny, it’s always at the end of the day you, the other actor, and the cameraman and the director … Even if you take all that stuff away, all the (grandeur) of something like Troy or something as simple as Just Buried, at the end of the day it’s the same kind of thing, so I always hang on to that in those moments of … disbelief when you’re in these sort of larger-than-life scenarios,” she says. “It’s just more money (on the bigger films), more Kraft services, more chocolate,” she says laughing.

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