Audiences across Australia already know the face and work of actress Alli McLaren, and there’s a good chance you probably do too.
Over the course of her career, McLaren, who has been acting since she was a child, has given knockout performances in the films Infidelity, A Writer’s Block and Spy Mission, as well as several successful theatre tours.
In the 2011 film Spy Mission, which was shot in New York and produced by White Night Productions, Alli McLaren took on the starring role of Melanie.
A bad girl with a skewed idea of ‘fun,’ Spy Mission follows Melanie (McLaren) as she goes on a relatively harmless kidnapping spree– her transgressions being harmless in the sense that her ultimate goal has nothing to do with torturing the captives or exchanging them for ransom money.
Instead, oddball Melanie’s actions are purely for personal entertainment, she just wants to see how her kidnap-ees react to the situation and see how they would try to escape. Something of a light-hearted and comedic PG version of the Saw film series, Melanie leaves cute little clues to lead the film’s supporting cast of spies on a hot pursuit towards discovering her victims.
While McLaren has had astonishing success as a dramatic actress, admitting, “It’s just been the genre I have always been led to since I was younger. I didn’t have the easiest upbringing so I feel like I can connect well to a lot of the more serious characters,” she has proven over the years that she can easily tap into comedic, action-packed roles like Melanie in Spy Mission as well.
In addition to Spy Mission, McLaren displays her grasp of the comedy genre, which is considered by many to be one of the most challenging for a performer, in the film Return of Greta produced by Verhaeghe Productions.
Poking fun at all the ridiculous inside dramas that happen within the world of pageantry, McLaren played the leading role of a pageant contestant alongside Boardwalk Empire star Victor Verhaeghe who played her perpetually unsatisfied coach.
“This film was very special to me because not only did Victor write it and direct it, but he also acted in it and specifically wrote my character in so I could act opposite to him,” explains McLaren.
“This was the funniest set I have ever been on. We spent so much time laughing together and using improv in our scenes, which turned out to be super, super cool. It was nice to do a comic film and explore how fun it is to improv on set.”
In 2012 McLaren lit up the screen once again as a dancer in the highly popular Disney television series Shake It Up! directed by Joel Zwick (Full House, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Girl Meets World).
Outside of film and television productions McLaren admits, “I have done many theater tours in Australia.”
On the stage, McLaren has proven the diverse nature of her craft through performances in a vast number of challenging roles including the Mole in “The Wind in the Willows,” Jojo in “Seussical the Musical,” Maureen in “Rent,” Titiana in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Cynthia Jones in “Big, The Musical,” as well as many others.
For McLaren, showing her range as an actress in her collective body of work is important, as it should be for any actor; but that isn’t the sole reason she picks one role over another.
She says, “So many times when reading a script you feel an automatic connection to it and then suddenly you can’t stop thinking about it and HAVE to play that part. Its almost like the script chooses you rather then you choose it.”
Her aesthetic beauty compounded by her unquestionable talent has made her the perfect actress for commercial productions as well. In 2010 McLaren was featured in a national commercial for Red Night Energy Drinks, which was produced by Drawing Productions and aired across Australia, bringing McLaren astonishing recognition.
Currently, Alli McLaren is working on the upcoming film My Year of Silence, where she will play the starring role of Callie, as well as Paul Warner’s Positively Height Street, where she’ll star as Val.