As the months of quarantine crawled by, Rose Byrne learned a fun new skill: crafting cocktails. "I got into being an artisanal cocktail waitress," she says, laughing. "But I'm really slow at it. For me, it's time consuming and labor intensive. My husband [actor Bobby Cannavale] will be like, 'I've been waiting for 25 minutes.'" For the record, she and Bobby aren't actually married, but they call each other husband and wife. (Because after nine years together and two kids, why not?) They are currently living on the West Coast (Rose has been working there) with their young sons, Rafa and Rocco. At this point, the glamour of the Hollywood red carpet seems like something from another planet. "All my beauty routines have gone out the window," says Rose, 41. "I spend my days covered in markers, Play-Doh, and flour."
But not today. As we chat, the Australian actor has just finished wrapping Physical, her new series for Apple TV+ (to be released on June 18) about an unhappy 1980s housewife who discovers aerobics, uses it as a path to power, and becomes a wellness guru. And Rose, known to audiences for her roles in Damages, Bridesmaids, and Neighbors, is definitely feeling the endorphin rush.
"When I read the first script, I was so moved," she says. "It felt like a story I hadn't seen before, and it's incredibly human and relatable. For me as an artist, it was very challenging and daunting, which is good. I especially loved how doing all the physical [routines] take you out of being so self-conscious as a performer."
Those aerobic scenes required some pretty intense training and coordination. A few months before filming started, Rose began working with Jennifer Hamilton, the show's choreographer, via Zoom. "We did online classes, building the choreography," says Rose. "This show is a journey for Sheila, the character I play, so the routines have to look rough in the beginning, and then she slowly gains her confidence and strength. I hadn't been doing a lot of cardio personally, so that was very hard. But it was fun. I really loved the training. I can see how it becomes addictive."
For Rose, Physical also feels like a natural progression from her role as Gloria Steinem in Mrs. America, about the battle for the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. "It was a beautiful companion piece," she says. "Playing Gloria was an eye-opening experience in many ways. Then to be able to step into Sheila — it felt like picking up where the previous era left off. It linked all those ideals that so many people were fighting for."
Throwing herself into such a deeply satisfying role helped the star get through quarantine, along with mixing up those custom cocktails. Although she did get a chance to go home to Australia for a bit ("my husband was working there," she says), Rose, like all of us, dearly misses spending time with her family and friends, including the ones nearby she still hasn't been able to see. "I just want to give them all big kisses and hugs," she says. "I can't wait for that."
In the meantime, she shares her secrets for staying upbeat, healthy, and energized.