Occupation Star Izzy Stephens Explains How Her Character’s Changed Ahead of Netflix Sequel
Australian actor Izzy Stephens has been fortunate enough to play a wide range of strong female characters including Tracey Smart in Puberty Blues, Eileen Leigh in Underbelly (2011 and FBI Profiler Maddison Wakefield in the upcoming film Him.
And while each of these characters has a certain strength to them, the 27-year-old says that her approach to these characters comes from a place of “vulnerability”.
“I think that’s actually how we are strong,” Stephens said in an interview with POPSUGAR Australia. “You can be physically strong, but those emotional states are where your strength, I think, really lies, especially for women. I think we’re shown you must be strong, you must be fearless and courageous and go get it. But so many people aren’t like that. I think it’s really important to look at that duality and say, I think the strength is in the vulnerable.”
In her most recent feature, Occupation: Rainfall (the sequel to 2018’s Occupation which is now streaming on Netflix with a worldwide release coming soon, Stephens plays Bella Barlett – a character that has changed significantly between films.
“I think what has actually happened is she’s really settled into her assertion of who she is and how strong she is, and how much she looks after the community,” Stephens said of her character.
“She’s much stronger, much more in her body. Being physical is a big one for her. At the beginning of the first film, she’s a teenager and has those qualities of a young woman that’s misunderstood and doesn’t really engage with the community. Towards the end of the film, she’s completely different. She’s a fighter. And that was amazing to play.”
Occupation (2018 saw a group of misfits form a homegrown resistance army after their small Australian country town was enslaved by an extraterrestrial force while the second film takes place two years after these events, where survivors from Sydney, Australia, fight in a desperate war as the number of casualties continue to grow.
“There’s a lot of explosive action and it’s a really fun ride,” Stephens said of Rainfall. “It feels like an American blockbuster but it’s an Australian film, so there is a really cool middle ground.”
Currently, Stephens is living with her partner in LA and during a global pandemic, it’s hard not to want to come home.
“It’s been interesting looking through the lens of me as an Australian into the US and seeing how things have gone here and how it has unravelled,” she said. “We think we’re very similar to Australia in America, but look at the way that they’ve dealt with this. There are huge differences.”
Being fortunate enough to work in LA, however, does not go unnoticed for the actor, director and producer, however, her dream would be to work both overseas and at home.
“I think every Australian wants to ultimately be embraced by the Australian industry,” she said. “I have been lucky that I have worked in Australia for years. But it is definitely my goal to be able to work in both places. I want to be able to build a career that has longevity, and has that structure.”
Stream Occupation: Rainfall on Netflix now and catch Stephens in Him, coming to cinemas in October 2021.