Asking Rose Byrne for some ’80s beauty regrets almost seems like an automatic baked-in, must-pose question when discussing her role in Apple TV+’s comedy-drama Physical. Set from 1981 to 1986 in San Diego, Season 3 is streaming now—with a new episode available today—and the 44-year-old Aussie plays Sheila Rubin, the competitively complicated housewife-turned-aerobics instructor whose character path has been anything but a straight line. (The music featured in the series is, undeniably, great, but the hairstyles alone are worth a full binge.)
“I do like a very large shoulder pad, slouchy and broad, and I think it’s safe to say that look has definitely made a bit of a comeback,” shares Byrne when discussing her present-day, real-life style loves. The Brooklyn-based mom—she shares two children with longtime partner, fellow actor and sometimes co-star, Bobby Cannavale—is perhaps best known for her roles in Bridesmaids, FX’s Mrs. America, Apple TV+’s Platonic and Damages, which earned her two Golden Globes nominations and two Emmys nominations, but, for today, she’s overly enthusiastic when describing the styling for the period show.
“When we start this season, it’s 1983, and Sheila is really embracing the power suit as well. We have the big shoulders and the great jewelry going, some Christian Dior, some Armani, and some wonderful vintage pieces that Ernesto Martinez, our incredible costume designer, has found. The Armani suit is just so incredible—chic, sort of oversized, something you would absolutely wear today. And the Christian Dior is like the most perfect oversized black blazer with the most exquisite tailoring. I love it! It’s a lot of textures, it’s a lot of fabrics—and the hair just keeps getting bigger and bigger! The style is moving away from the ’70s and Sheila is stepping into a much more professional look in her life as she makes some money and transcends from her ‘hippie days.’ I love a good suit, so the wardrobe has really been a fun part of the job.”
Growing up in Balmain, Australia as the youngest of four children during the same decade-plus, Byrne (who earned her first film role at the age of 15) admits her style wasn’t always A-plus—nor is it something she’d necessarily copy today.
“I wore a lot of bike shorts and large, oversized T-shirts in the late-’80s and early ’90s and could not believe it when they started to come back on runways and collections recently,” she laughs. “But Doc Martens are one thing I just cannot get back into!”
The best stories come from life.
One “thing” Byrne is into right now is working alongside fellow actress Zooey Deschanel, who plays rival Kelly Kilmartin, a character that takes on an “unhealthy obsession” in Sheila’s mind during the third-season installment.
“When we meet Sheila this season, she’s really trying to hold on to her business, she’s trying to get her ex-husband to back off and not be involved. She’s trying to really grasp the reins and get success, basically, in this new world that she knows very little about. So, she’s doing some shady things to say the least…some things that are slightly duplicitous, even for Sheila. And along the way, she meets a big rival, who is played by Zooey Deschanel in the character of Kelly Kilmartin. That dynamic is something that we really explore in an extremely unexpected way. It’s something I’m hoping audiences will be incredibly entertained by.
Working with Zooey was so fun…it’s very fun to shoot this show, it’s very fun to play this character, and the two of us have a lot of fun together. And Annie Weisman, our director, is very much the grounding force of the show—she’s my touchstone for every beat of Sheila and the character’s narrative and arc. Having her as a director was extraordinary. You know, writers are always on the outskirts, they’re on the edges, and they don’t necessarily want to be in the spotlight. But she is the one who is one thousand percent in charge. The scenes were very surreal, very dramatic, but they’re also very funny—and that is because of the two of them. If you’ve watched the show, you know a lot of it tends to be dark. But I also love how Zooey’s character still brings such a lightness and an effervescence into the darkness. It’s just a very interesting rivalry. You’ll see that Sheila really looks up to her and puts her on a pedestal—and then you’ll also see it all fall apart.”
Something that isn’t falling apart is Byrne’s tight-knit family crew. She shares the simple secret to how she and her partner leave work at work: “We drink some wine!”
My best advice to anyone who has a partner working in their same industry: Drink a lot of wine.
“But the reason we do this comes down to the basics,” she quietly admits, while discussing why she takes her particular career path very seriously: “The power of storytelling is ancient—it’s part of the dialogue of humanity. It’s sort of unquantifiable how powerful it is and how important it is to our own understanding of life as we know it. The best stories really do come from life…I mean, you don’t just pick something up off the floor and make it. Usually, what I make is something that’s happened or something that’s from my heart or something that is some kind of story that is around me.
I have two kids, so to see their imaginations grow and to see them figure things out by sharing the stories in their head is really interesting. Sometimes, you have to put things into a story to make them make sense, right? There’s just such value in it—it is so important to have that in our culture today.”
I love the brand Heritage Store. It’s such a reasonable price and they make clean, fresh products that work; I especially love the Rosewater Toner and Rosewater Facial Mist. Weleda Skin Food is also a classic.
Shani Darden Triple Acid Signature Peel is just incredible. My facialist in New York, Fabricio Ormonde, recently introduced me to Allies of Skin; I love the brand’s Multi Hyaluronic Antioxidant Hydration Serum.
When I first came to the states, it was almost shocking how everyone here viewed sun care—there just seems to be a lot less education in the U.S. Growing up in Australia, you are taught at school at such an early age about sun damage and cancer risks associated with too much UV. I always put on am SPF. I like Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen and I also like Suntegrity Impeccable Skin for a little base with the sunscreen.
New York Must-Visits
Fabricio Ormonde and Christine Chin Salon are my musts for facials! I also love Reedchy in Brooklyn for nails and a good foot massage.
I discovered Alo Moves Whole Body Opening online class during lockdown and I still do it now. It’s a great total stretch that’s 30 minutes. If I’m near a beach, I’ll always have a swim—there is nothing more soothing to me.
Editor’s note: This interview and photo shoot originally took place prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
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