All About Patti Cake$' Danielle Macdonald: How an Australian Became the Ultimate Rapping Jersey Girl
Get ready for Danielle Macdonald to rock your world.
The Australian newcomer, 26, has critics raving about her star-making performance in Patti Cake$, now in theaters. The crowd-pleasing Sundance hit features Macdonald as Patricia Dombrowski, a young woman in New Jersey with plenty of the state’s signature attitude, along with a dream of becoming a rapper. Meanwhile, she’s working odd jobs to get by while living with her washed-up singer mom (Bridget Everett) and ailing grandma (Cathy Moriarty) and relying on the help of her friends to keep her hopes alive.
Read on to know more about the summer movie season’s breakout star.
She makes a convincing Jersey girl — but she’s really from Australia.
Macdonald grew up in Clareville, a beach suburb north of Sydney. But she also has European roots. “My mom is Italian and her whole family still lives in Italy,” she says. “My dad is Australian and his family lives in Australia so we were raised there.”
She initially booked a role on a TV show but didn’t get her visa in time
Macdonald moved to the United States to pursue acting in 2010 after she booked a part on the ABC show Huge. But it was all just a little bit too good to be true.
“I had an audition for a show and I booked it, so I moved to America and it was one of those crazy situations where it was like, ‘Wow, is it that easy?!’ But it’s not!” Macdonald says. “I didn’t get to do the show cause I didn’t get my visa in time. But it got me my visa [eventually] and that was an incredible thing, I came out here and started from the ground up. It’s been a great ride.”
She practiced rapping in her closet — with her cat and dog as the audience
To get into character, Macdonald spent hours learning how to not only rap, but do it with a New Jersey accent.
“I would practice in my closet because it was the quietest place and also the least likely chance that anyone could hear me,” she says. “I would spend hours in my closet and my cat would come in and my dog would come in and be like, ‘What are you doing?’ My cat would be trying to climb on me while I’m trying to rap and my dog would be trying to get a belly rub. It was kind of a hilarious scenario, just hours in the closet practicing over and over and over again until I got it right.”
She looked to Biggie for inspiration
When she wasn’t being distracted by her pets, the actress turned to several rappers to get the hang of what her style would be like.
“I listened to a lot of rap songs from different artists and I practiced in different styles and flows to kind of see where my actual ability laid,” Macdonald says.
Turns out, Notorious B.I.G. ended up being the most helpful as she tried to find her flow.
“He has that cool, laid back type thing happening and it helped me kind of find my confidence,” she says. “That helped me the most to get into character, but I loved doing others like Kendrick [Lamar]. He was really hard, and it was fun to practice. I also loved doing Eminem because he’s so intense and it was fun to find that intensity.”
She wants to do all kinds of movies — but is scared of horror!
Macdonald, who is next starring alongside Jennifer Aniston in the movie adaptation of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, admits she wants to try her hand at all different types of genres, but would rather stay away from something too scary.
“The only thing is I’m terrified of horror movies. I’m scared, I’m admitting it!” MacDonald jokes. “I mean, I would still do a horror movie I just probably wouldn’t be able to watch it. [Patti Cake$] was such a big challenge and it really scared me, and the fact that I was able to get through it just makes me more pumped to keep trying different things.”