Rachael Taylor

It’s not easy to hold your own when your co-stars are shape-shifting alien robots and eerie specters, but Rachael Taylor has managed to pull it off. The 23-year-old Australian actress got her big break in last summer’s Transformers and recently faced off against the supernatural in Shutter. Next, she appears in Bottle Shock, a film based on a true story about a little California-vineyard-that-could (and did) turn the ’70s wine world upside down.

LUCY SILBERMAN: You were born in Tasmania.

RACHAEL TAYLOR: Everybody either thinks I’m from Tanzania or they’re not quite sure whether it’s part of New Zealand or Africa. But Tasmania is the island state of Australia. It was a cool place to grow up, but I flew the coop pretty early just because I desperately needed to go and discover a big city.

LS: And you live in Los Angeles now. So is it everything you imagined?

RT: It’s funny because I had an instinct, even as a child, that I wanted to live in the United States. I don’t know if it came from those ridiculous movie clichés, but I always wanted to live in New York. Even though I live in L.A. now, I spend as much time in New York as I can. It has lived up to expectations, really, because I take most of my inspiration from observing things.

LS: You recently spent some time in Tokyo, too.

RT: Yes. I had a complete love affair with the culture and the food and the fashion. I shot Shutter there, and that was fairly dark material. My character is very much experiencing isolation, and as we know, life and art . . .

LS: Do you bring a lot of yourself to your roles?

RT: I’m more into using my imagination. I think that’s why I started this job to begin with: because I just wanted to play make-believe. And, of course, you develop as a person, and that helps or it doesn’t, or it becomes something you have to break through or capture. . . . I’m sure all of that stuff is going on. But I still think I’m a kid who wants to go play fairies in the backyard.