AdelaideNow.com.au – March 17th 2011


Isabel Lucas is singing a new tune

SHE has a key role in the new Australian musical A Heartbeat Away and recently popped up on YouTube performing a duet with US actor-musician Lukas Haas, but Isabel Lucas says the closest she has come to live singing is an occasional lounge-room jam session with her boyfriend Angus Stone.

“At this stage, I am focused on my acting career,” says the LA-based actor, who got her first big overseas break as a sexually voracious alien in 2009′s Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.

Such single-mindedness goes some way to explaining why Lucas doesn’t actually sing, as is implied, on Lucas and Lukas’s Made For You – the clip is in fact an unorthodox viral marketing campaign, launched by European band The Gift.

The pair were hired to generate a bit of buzz before the outfit’s upcoming album release.

And although the former Home And Away star took singing lessons growing up, and learnt to play guitar for a small role opposite Joel Edgerton in The Waiting City, neither talent was required by her character in A Heartbeat Away.

It tells the story of a young rock musician (Sebastian Gregory) who reluctantly agrees to lead his father’s brass band when the latter is bedridden by a terrible accident.

Instead, Lucas was asked to throw herself into a new discipline altogether – choreographer Tony Bartuccio (The Dish) helped her master the moves for the solo routine that her dance teacher performs at one point in the story.

Lucas’s skill set continues to develop with Immortals, in which she plays Athena to Henry “Superman” Cavill’s Theseus and Mickey Rourke’s King Hyperion.

The 26-year-old had her first real stunt sequence in the upcoming film – as part of a larger fight routine.

“That was a real challenge,” she says. “The sickle training was something else.”

However, for the most part this particular goddess of war is a relative peacenik, a characterisation that sits more comfortably with Lucas’s off-screen image as a vegetarian, dolphin-defending neo-hippie.

“I had a lot of questions for the director,” she admits. “When I think about Athena, I think about Cate Blanchett in Robin Hood, a powerful woman with a really strong stance.

“But first and foremost, she was the goddess of wisdom. And the Athena I was playing was a much softer version.”

It was the classic Australian charm of A Heartbeat Away, which boasts a vintage cast including Colin Friels, Kerry Walker and William Zappa, that lured Lucas home.

That and the fact that it was to be helmed by acclaimed theatre director Gale Edwards.

“I am very grateful to be living and working over here (in LA), but it’s just as important for me to be involved in the Australian film industry. I am very passionate about that,” Lucas says.

Lucas also stars opposite Josh Lawson as a Russian bride in another homegrown comedy, The Wedding Party.

However, despite her strong connection to Australia, the actor says she has warmed to her adopted US hometown over time.

“I do appreciate the (professional) opportunities, for sure. And also the culture there’s so much film art, street art. Mother Nature is very strong here, too. There are deserts and waterfalls – beautiful hikes only an hour away,” she says.

But Lucas says she is no party animal.

“That’s not my focus. Never has been. I like exploring. And when I am not working, I like travelling,” she says.

Lucas recently spent a month on her own in an ashram in India, reading and writing and studying ayurvedic medicine.

Before that, she travelled to Morocco with Stone and her aunt and uncle.

“It’s soul food for me,” she says. “I need (those experiences) to be able to live here.”

SEE A Heartbeat Away opens today.