Nicky Whelan's hard work in Hollywood paying off
MAKING it in Hollywood can be a marathon, but Nicky Whelan's in it for the long haul.
The Aussie model-turned-actress stars in new buddy comedy The Wedding Ringer.
It follows a cracker year for Whelan, who landed a lead role in the TV series Matador and starred opposite Nicolas Cage in the action film Left Behind.
Best known domestically for her role as Pepper Steiger on Neighbours, Whelan moved to Los Angeles eight years ago.
After one-off appearances in Entourage and Melrose Place, she landed a regular guest role on medical comedy Scrubs.
But her big break came in 2011 in the romantic comedy Hall Pass as Owen Wilson's extramarital love interest.
"After about two years, a lot of Aussies go, 'I can't do it anymore - it's too hard'," Whelan told APN.
"My theory is, you've got to stick it out. You can't have a Plan B.
"The past eight years I've worked consistently. It's been a slow burn for me, but the slow burn works. Nothing's been too crazy or overnight. I'm still learning so much."
While she is not new to comedy, Whelan describes working with Kevin Hart and Josh Gad in The Wedding Ringer as a masterclass in humour.
"Kevin and Josh do stand-up for a living so every take was hysterical," she said.
"Having to play alongside them, every take was different. They were writing as they went."
In the film, Hart plays best-man-for-hire Jimmy Callahan, who assembles a rag-tag group of groomsmen for socially awkward husband-to-be Doug (Gad).
Whelan's character Nadia strikes up a friendship with Doug at his bachelor party.
"We want him to have the best wedding, so there's no other sort of intention (by Nadia). It's no Hall Pass," she said.
"It's funny, fast-paced, dirty, silly and funny. I can't wait to hear what Australia thinks."
Whelan's Melbourne-based family walked the red carpet on her behalf at this week's Australian premiere as the 33-year-old was tied up in pilot season auditions.
Whelan is looking for her next TV series after America's El Rey channel chose not to renew Matador.
"Pilot season can be really gruelling," she said.
"You're auditioning sometimes three or four times a day.
"But when something finally gets green-lit, like to get the lead in Matador and have a show that's picked up for 13 episodes, I'm so grateful for the experience."
Whelan will next be seen in director Terrence Malick's drama Knight of Cups, which also stars fellow Aussie Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Christian Bale.
Malick is known for his free-flowing filmmaking style, where he often finds the structure of his films in the editing suite during post-production.
"Being a part of that was an incredible process," she said.
"None of us were allowed to know what the movie was about. But I saw the trailer and I was in it so I know I'll be in the film (laughs). I'm excited for that to come out."
The Wedding Ringer is in cinemas now.