The Nice Guys didn’t exactly do Iron Man 3 numbers at the box office this weekend, but Shane Black’s knockabout L.A. noir is a success in at least one respect: It introduces moviegoers to Hollywood’s next great comedy duo, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Actually, make that comedy trio. Crowe and Gosling are matched scene for scene by a 15-year-old Australian actress, Angourie Rice, who makes her Hollywood debut as the precocious daughter of Gosling’s dunderhead private eye.
Black has a history of writing scene-stealing parts for child actors, be it Ty Simpkins in Iron Man 3 or the youthful crew of the ‘80s cult classic, The Monster Squad. But Rice’s character Holly March may be his best young creation. She’s quicker on the uptake than her father Holland (Gosling) and lighter on her feet than his new partner, the heavyset bruiser Jackson Healy (Crowe). And she proves instrumental in helping them solve the movie’s central mystery about a missing girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley).
Ryan Gosling and Rice in Cannes on May 15 (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
Rice’s ease in front of the camera can likely be credited to her parents; her mother, Kate Rice is a writer and actress, while her father, Jeremy Rice, directs Australian television and is heavily involved in youth-oriented theater. Some of their daughter’s earliest screen roles came in short films, most notably writer/director Zak Hilditch’s 2012 short Transmission, which received a screenplay award from the Australian Film Institute. Viewable on YouTube, Transmission takes place after a virus has wiped out much of the continent’s population. Against this desolate backdrop, young Tilly (Rice) and her father (Wayne Davis) make the perilous trek to a supposed safe zone until tragedy strikes along the way. Watch it below:
One year later, Hilditch imagined another “end of days” scenario for his feature These Final Hours and brought Rice on as a different character with a somewhat similar backstory. In this apocalyptic bummer, which is currently streaming on Netflix, a meteor collision has set off a firestorm that will swallow Australia in 12 hours. As that clock counts down, our ignoble hero James (Nathan Phillips) leaves his pregnant girlfriend in favor of partying his brains out at a pal’s world-ending bacchanal.
En route to the bash, he rescues Rose (Rice) from child-raping kidnappers and eventually returns her to her family’s home, but not before making several pit stops. One of these is at the aforementioned end of the world party, which makes for an interesting bit of symmetry with The Nice Guys. In that film, Rice’s Holly smuggles herself into a wild porn-industry party in the Hollywood Hills, and see some sights that are beyond her years. Here, an even younger Rice witnesses even more disturbing things, like group orgies and bloody games of Russian roulette. Watch the trailer below:
The same year that she inhabited an apocalyptic present, Rice also learned about Earth’s past in the animated feature Walking With Dinosaurs. The actress appeared alongside Karl Urban and British child actor Charlie Rowe in live-action segments that bookended a CGI-recreation of the Cretaceous period, focusing on little Pachyrhinosaurus, Patchi (Justin Long), and his repeated run-ins with a hungry Gorgosaurus. Available for rental and/or purchase on Amazon and iTunes, Walking With Dinosaurs made most of its money overseas, settling for a mere $36 million gross in its American release. Watch a trailer below:
Rice’s other pre-Nice Guy credits remain mostly unavailable in this country; in 2014, she guest-starred on three different Australian shows, none of which, surprisingly, happen to be Neighbors or Home and Away, the two long-running soaps that have launched such homegrown stars as Kyle Minogue, Melissa George and Chris Hemsworth. Most recently, Rice wrapped production on Jasper Jones, a ‘60s era Australian coming-of-age story, which cast her alongside some of her nation’s better-known acting exports, Hugo Weaving and Toni Collette. Sadly, she probably won’t be reuniting with Crowe and Gosling for The Nice Guys 2 anytime soon, but maybe we can continue to follow Holly’s adventures in a needs-to-be-made Nice Guys animated series.