Living out of a suitcase is now second nature for New Zealand actress Rose McIver. Although she jokes that she’s naturally a bit of a hoarder, Rose has become used to travelling light after working around the world on various film and TV projects.
Currently, the gorgeous 24-year-old’s work has taken her to Australia, where she’s filming the big-screen drama Blinder alongside fellow Kiwi Anna Hutchison, but she’s also recently completed filming an episode of CSI and the indie flick Light Years.
Although she’s clocked up a lot of air miles and is mostly based in Los Angeles these days, all that transit can’t shake the Kiwi out of Rose. “I really crave New Zealand when I’m away,” she says. “Everything seems so green and roomy. You take it for granted – practically every house has a backyard.
“I’m glad I now have an environment in LA where I have friends and a life there. But it certainly is such a treat to come home and spend time with family and friends,” the actress says. When the Weekly catches up with Rose it’s on one of her fleeting trips to New Zealand to visit her family and long-term, long-distance boyfriend Benjamin Hoeksema.
Rose is staying with her parents in Titirangi, Auckland, in the home she grew up in. It’s a house Rose says is filled with happy childhood memories of summers spent on the beach playing on the rocks with her brother Paul in French Bay. The home is also filled with colour – the family lounge features her mother Annie’s ceramic artwork, as well as her father Mac’s photography and vintage radio collection.
The visit home has meant Rose gets to spend time with her two-year-old nephew Caed and meet her niece Marley, who was born in September last year. “It’s great being an auntie but I don’t think I’ve quite met my obligations for babysitting duty yet. I think I’ve got a bit of an IOU hanging over me.
“When they’re first born you’re sent a barrage photographs. All you see is this squished little red face that you’re trying to fall in love with. It’s so nice to see them in the flesh and hold them. “I used to nanny a lot in high school and it’s so lovely to have a family member to spend time with, because I was always falling in love with other people’s children. Now I’m falling in love with my own nephew!
“I find myself looking at baby clothes in LA and everyone says, ‘Are you clucky?’ and I say, ‘No, I’ve got a nephew and a niece.’ Marley’s wearing a baby T-shirt now that says, ‘My aunt is the best’. It’s a low-key number – I don’t know who could have got it for her,” she laughs. “One day I’d love to be a mum, but it’s something that would be quite a long way away for me,” says Rose. “Don’t leave it too long or I’ll be too old!” her mum Annie chips in.
While she’s away, Rose stays in touch with her family and Benjamin, her boyfriend of seven years, via Skype. “They’re everything to me, so that’s what’s great about Skype – it’s completely revolutionised being away from home. “It’s just like having a Sunday night dinner, but you have a Sunday Skype session. It doesn’t feel like you’re away from home. “I’m back and forth at the moment, so that’s the way it has to work with me and [Ben],” she says.
Rose, who first made it big in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, is doing her best to take a little slice of her Kiwi life to LA. You won’t see her tottering around the City of Angels in the skyscraper heels or minidresses favoured by Californians. Rose is a denim cut-offs and T-shirt kind of gal, and makes a special effort to support New Zealand fashion labels such as Ruby and Juliette Hogan overseas.
“I’m definitely proud to wear Kiwi fashion,” says Rose. “I get lots of questions about my clothes. On Light Years people would say, ‘Where are those pants from?’ and I’d say ‘New Zealand, but you can get them online!’”
On the set of Light Years, in which Rose plays a woman beginning a marketing career, Rose was instrumental in making sure Kiwi fashion was used by the costume department. “Emily Miller-Sharma from Ruby and Liam contributed some clothes to the wardrobe. I’ve always been a huge fan of theirs,” says Rose.
Another thing Rose hasn’t let LA strip from her is her dry Kiwi wit, something she has clearly inherited from her parents. The family joke with one another constantly. “We like to rark each other up and we have a high tolerance for teasing. I have to remember that when I’m with people I don’t know so well.
“The other day I was sitting at a café in LA, and someone came over and sat at the table next to me. There was a half-drunk coffee on the table and I said, ‘Feel free to finish that.’ “I was being silly, obviously, but the person looked at me disapprovingly, as if I thought they were homeless or something,” she says.
“That’s such a New Zealand thing to have that kind of rapport with someone you don’t know. But that kind of humour doesn’t necessarily fly with people in the US!”