Mia Wasikowska talks about going back to her roots with John Curran’s Venice world premiere, Tracks.

Mia Wasikowska and Robyn Davidson in Venice

Mia Wasikowska and Robyn Davidson in Venice

John Curran’s Tracks, which had its world premiere in Venice, gave Australia-born actress Mia Wasikowska a chance to connect to her roots.

The actress, who turns 24 in October, hadn’t made a film in her native Australia since she was 17. “It was reconnecting with my own roots and with the Australian industry,” she said of Tracks, which tells the remarkable true story of Robyn Davidson’s 1,700-mile, nine-month trek across the Australian outback in 1977.

It helped Wasikowska make the decision to live in Australia again. “For the first time, my film world was also part of my home world,” she says.

Davidson herself was on the Lido to talk about the film (adapted from her 1979 bestselling book Tracks) and she had special praise for Wasikowska’s lead performance.

Speaking at a press conference, Davidson said: “Mia was to me the obvious choice. I saw her first in In Treatment and I was bowled over by her as an actor….She has a depth and intelligence that was very appealing.

“But then the first time I met her I thought, ‘Here is a delicate person. How is she going to muster the enthusiasm and strength the role requires?’

“Then we met with the camels and she was fearless. She got straight in. I cannot think of a better actor to do it.”

Wasikowska said: “From the moment I read the story, I fell completely in love with Robyn’s character.”

The actor admitted to being “terrified’ of meeting the real-life heroine, but she added “we had the most wonderful three days in the middle of Australia”.

See-Saw, the UK- and Australia-based production company that has credits including The King’s Speech, Shame and Top of the Lake, had been interested in doing a film of Tracks since the company was set up by Iain Canning and Emile Sherman in 2008.

Sherman explained that the rights were held by Disney at that time, but when their option expired See-Saw was quick to move in and was able to convince Davidson that they were the right company to tell her story.

“Robyn’s been amazingly trusting of us during this time,” Sherman said.

Davidson’s trip connected with the zeitgeist in the 1970s but is relevant today, director Curran added. “It resonates today, there is the young person’s desire to disconnect and get and way and be on their own. It’s probably more relevant now than 10 years ago.”

Wasikowska agrees: “We’re always on phones and emails planning for the next day and the next day and the next day. It was a young woman who takes herself out of that and returns to the basics of survival, putting one foot in front of the other.”

Davidson noted that with technology and media being much different in 2013 than 1977, any such journey today would be wildly different. “One could do it but it would have a completely different meaning. There was no GPS, there were no satellites to track me. I didn’t do it for the spectacle, I did it for personal reasons.”

And for her camel co-stars, Wasikowska says their grumpy dispositions aren’t to be believed. She said camels are “the most obliging and co-operative film animal you could ever have….They upstaged me during the filming process. I fell in love with them.”

REVIEW: Tracks

Tracks goes on to show in Toronto and it will also open Adelaide.