Shalom Brune-Franklin wants you to know that she’s a good egg.
It’s an important piece of information when you consider the British-Australian actor’s roster of slightly raunchy and demure characters on TV shows like Love me, The tourist And exercise of duty. They’re all hiding something – their true identities, their feelings – but not Brune-Franklin.
“I’m just a good, solid egg,” she says, laughing. “I will always be there.”
I can confirm that Brune-Franklin is indeed a good egg. It’s late at night in London where Brune-Franklin lives, but she’s happily chatting over Zoom while my daughter sits next to me and scoops up Weet-Bix Bluish Explosions in the background. “Oh, I like your pyjamas,” she says in her wonderfully mixed British/Australian accent to my six-year-old, who gives a thumbs-up in response.
In recent years, Brune-Franklin has made all the right moves – and has built an enviable career that ticks all the boxes: iconic BBC police dramas, twisted international thrillers, high-end Australian streaming hits and co-stars including Oscar-winning Winner (Olivia Colman in Great expectations), national treasures (Hugo Weaving and Heather Mitchell in Love me) and international spunks-who-can-act-too (Jamie Dornan in The tourist). As if that wasn’t enough, she directed the secret TV spin-off to the film dune film series called Dune: The Sisterhood.
“I definitely still feel like an imposter when I’m on set,” she says. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, how did I get here? How’s it going?’ That feeling hasn’t gone away, which is good.”
Brune-Franklin may feel like a fraud, but not many would agree. The 28-year-old has been hailed as “a woman to behold” and one of “Britain’s brightest screen talents”. Harper’s Bazaar Magazine in the UK, with a matching photo shoot for the cover.
“Honestly, I still can’t believe that was something,” she says, shaking her head. “I’m not even going to lie. I went to the store to buy something because my mom said, ‘Get me some, send me some.’ So I literally tried to clear every convenience store around me and every time I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe this is a real thing.'”
Did any of the employees in the stores recognize her?
“Once when I bought it, my buddy was like, ‘Look, don’t you recognize the girl on the cover? Doesn’t she look really familiar?’ to the shopkeeper and the shopkeeper just looked at him.”
All that attention would be enough to turn someone’s head, but Brune-Franklin seems wonderfully unaffected. It’s a quality that comes through in her performances too, especially in Love methe romantic drama in which she plays Ella, Aaron’s single-minded love interest turned ex-baby mom, played by William Lodder.
He’s a little wet behind the ears, grieving the death of his mother, but is in love with Ella, a DJ who seems to be an escape from the grief hanging over his family and a way out of a future that already is is predetermined for him.
At the end of season one, Ella reveals that she’s pregnant and nearly nine months later season two begins, with her in the maternity ward screaming, “What’s that friggin’ smell?” It’s quite the entrance.
“She’s a bit different, isn’t she,” says Brune-Franklin. “She adds something to the show. She’s this villain character, she gets by. Even her lines are so punchy. As I read [the script for the first episode]I was like, ‘Oh, there she is.’”
Plays in Melbourne Love me was adapted by Alison Bell from a Swedish series of the same name (Alska mig) and accompanies the Mathiesons – father Glen (Hugo Weaving) and his two adult children Clara (Bojana Novakovic) and Aaron – as they come to terms with the loss of their mother Christine (Sarah Peirse ).
It’s a grandiose portrait of grief and all that entails – humor, sadness and bare bottoms – and the intricate search for love after death. Ella’s brittleness is a sharp counterbalance to Aaron’s fuzziness and it’s thanks to Brune-Franklin that one never really rejects Ella, but she probably needs a hug.
“That was definitely something that was really interesting to find out,” Brune-Franklin says of her and Aaron’s relationship. “Because not only are they becoming parents, but they are also trying to be parents together since they are no longer together. It’s a really overwhelming and confusing time for both of them as they try to survive day by day with this newborn baby.
“Ella feels like she doesn’t have the best support system – and it’s pretty obvious. And Aaron, as much as he probably prepared for this, is really blown away.”
The only person offering support is Aaron’s father, Glen (side note: Hugo Weaving is great in the role. Soft, kind, and, yes, totally huggable). He is one of the few people that Ella opens up to.
“I remember reading that and thinking, ‘Wow, this is the first time we’ve seen this with this character,'” says Brune-Franklin. “She always has this really tough facade and I think it’s interesting to learn that it comes from her mother. You can see where she learned it from, this constant distraction.”
Brune-Franklin moved to Perth with her family from Hertfordshire in the UK when she was 14, hence the mixed-up accent. It was, of course, a complete culture shock, but what she remembers most is being overwhelmed by the space. “The first bus ride to school sums it up,” she says. “I remember being cramped on the bus all the time and school kids yelling at each other in England. And it was just so alive.
“And when I got on the bus in Perth, there were two other kids on it. And the bus driver literally made a comment about how he had never seen us on the route. And we said, ‘Yes, we’re new. We just got here.’ And I was like, ‘Whoa, we’re in a whole different place now.’”
At school she took her first steps in the theater. “I remember just getting up and doing it [a monologue] and say, ‘Oh, it was so easy. I can’t believe we can get grades for that.” And that’s how it all started,” she recalls.
“I didn’t realize that it wasn’t always supposed to feel so good and easy. I think it was pretty scary for a lot of people and I was like, ‘What? What’s scary about playing another person? It is so easy.'”
The next step was the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where Hugh Jackman took the stage on a $17,000 scholarship in her senior year, changing the course of her career. It almost didn’t happen because Brune-Franklin almost forgot to apply.
“I didn’t think this would happen to me,” she says. “Everyone applied for the scholarship and I didn’t. It wasn’t in my mind to ever think I’d be eligible, let alone win.
“And I remember a few nights before the due date my buddy said, ‘Why haven’t you submitted your application yet?’ And I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m not going to win this. light up.’ And she said, ‘Please do it.’
“I should probably thank her for forcing me to do this – and then see what happens! Maybe you should just sit back a little more. I didn’t have any tickets with me then, I probably don’t have enough tickets with me now, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
Aside from acting, the big question for someone with an accent as messed up as Brune-Franklin is which country supports her in the sport. Think of it as Hugo Weaving versus Jamie Dornan, Heather Mitchell versus Olivia Colman. Come on, who’s there?
“That’s the question,” she says, laughing. “That’s sort of the main question. And honestly, my family asked me that. Sometimes they say, “Come on,” and I really don’t know. I love both.”
Ah, finally a crack in the egg.