Dom Smith talks to Rachel Blackman about her love of Indiana Jones, German cinema and why she likes pretending to be John Travolta Don’t mention Home And Away to Brighton-based former star Rachel Blackman who, when asked about her appearance in that show, says she wishes she hadn’t. Luckily, the Australian is more commonly known for her role as Charra in the The Matrix Revolutions and as founding member of award-winning improvisation troupe, The Maydays.

She graduated from WAAPA, the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, in 1997, and her early solo work Aperture won best script at the Sydney Fringe Festival and an ABC Radio National commission. Classifying herself as a performance maker, theatre practitioner and actress, her recent projects include a dance film project for director/ choreographer Billy Cowie, Ghosts in the Machine, and The Ministry Of Biscuits, a satirical musical comedy with the Ornate Johnsons.

Rachel is currently developing a new piece of solo work for Stillpoint Productions, Steal Compass, Drive North, Disappear – expected to premier in spring 2010, and her improv show Katy And Rach Make Stuff Up is at Upstairs At Three And Ten, Steine Street, Brighton, on Wednesday, March 31. Tickets are £7/5 from

Is there a performer who made you think “I want to do that”?

Complicite (still), Pina Bausch (still), Les Ballets C de la B. But an individual performer? I’ve seen Mark Rylance on stage and marvelled at the way he illuminates language and I thought ‘I could never do that’. When I saw Tim Crouch’s The Author recently I thought the same about his writing. In film, I love performers that disappear into a role, for whom celebrity and ego don’t get in the way.

Do you remember the first record you bought? What was it, and where did you buy it?

Probably a really bad 1980s “Best Of” compilation when I was about 12. I could pretend I was cool and say Love’s Forever Changes but that would have been a lie. No one is cool when they are 12.

Tell us about any guilty pleasures lurking in your CD or film collections – something you know is a bit naff but you can’t help yourself.

I just watched all the Indiana Jones films again. Ace. David Lynch is a bit of a guilty pleasure.

I find his films decadent and luxurious. I’ve seen Mullholland Drive and Lost Highway about ten times each. I find the performances he coaxes from women in his films very sexy. Maybe I’m a closet lesbian. My partner has a weakness for Rush, which I get all snobby-ish about and then I put on The Bee Gees and pretend to be John Travolta.

Do you have a favourite film?

I love Days Of Heaven – an overlooked 1970s masterpiece by Terence Malick capturing an atmosphere, nostalgia, colour, light and film poetry.

I recently saw The Lives Of Others by Henckel von Donnersmarck after a recent flirtation with new German cinema. Brilliant. A multifaceted look at the changing tides of feeling in East Berlin in the years leading up to the fall of the wall. Germany is making some cracking films at the moment.

Which TV programme couldn’t you live without?

I haven’t owned a TV for ten years.

Do you have a favourite album?

I’m currently listening to Chris Garneau’s En Radio on heavy rotation and am a bit obsessed with Ben Frost, A Broken Consort and Soap & Skin.

Is there a song or individual piece of music you always come back to?

I couldn’t name one. Even your favourite gets tired if you overdo it.

What are you reading at the moment?

Vivienne Westwood’s biography.

Do you have a favourite book?

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton. Rambling, epic, very beautiful Australian fiction. I think Atomised by Houllebeque is a masterpiece. It attempts to wrestle with the themes of Western men, sex and all the physical, relational and philosophical conflicts inherent and does it in a brutal, honesty and uncompromising way. It is not pretty! On a different note entirely, I love a Brontë. Wuthering Heights. A wild act of imaginative and feeling genius.

Is there a live music or theatre experience that stays in your memory?

Masque Of The Red Death by Punchdrunk.

The Author by Tim Crouch. Seeing Fugazi at the Corn Exchange in 2004.

Who makes you laugh?

Eddie Izzard when he was younger. Jos Houben.

What inspires your improv?

Katy Schutte. Drunken conversations with [Juice radio DJ] Guy Lloyd. TJ Jagadowski and Dave Pasquesi (TJ and Dave) from Chicago. Gabriel Roth.

Where’s the best place comedy/ improv your work has taken you?

The absence of thought. Chicago.

What’s your most memorable improv moment?

Seeing someone who has come to learn, but is terrified, make their first real breakthrough.