Check out our interview with Australian actress Greta Carew-Johns who has appeared in numerous productions including Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok, CW’s Supergirl and ABC’s A Million Little Things.
At the beginning of 2022, Greta landed the lead role in the Christmas romcom TV movie, Meeting Mr. Christmas which recently aired in the USA on Crackle TV. It was also sold to air in Canada, the UK, Latin America and Germany. She also landed a guest star role in the pilot of CBS’ Early Edition alongside Alice Eve and Charles Michael Davis. Most recently, Greta was seen as the lead in the TV thriller, The Pregnancy Scheme which premiered in June on Lifetime.
Greta can also be heard as the voice of Sara, one of the lead characters in Curiouscast’s popular scripted podcast Escaping Denver. She is currently recording Season 3 (which is set to premiere this fall), while Seasons 1 and 2 are available now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Follow Greta @greta.carewjohns
Hi Greta, please tell us a little about you?
Hi, thanks for having me! I am an Australian lawyer turned actress. I was born in Brisbane, Queensland. I took a bit of a different path towards the creative pursuits compared to many of my fellow actors – first I finished a Bachelor of Laws and Commerce (majoring in Finance) and practiced as a lawyer for a few years.
Some random facts: I am a dog lover. I now live in Vancouver, Canada. I have one sibling, an older sister.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Ah I always find this type of question challenging… I guess I would say I am caring, welcoming, and if nothing else, I am persistent.
How did you get started into acting?
About half-way through my degrees, I really had the need to act. I researched all the acting courses and classes available in Brisbane and settled on one run by NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) which is a well-known acting school in Australia. I attended once a week and really enjoyed it. After a year or so of doing back-to-back short courses I started looking at other classes too. I wasn’t entirely sure where to take it from there but kept looking into it and found casting websites where I could submit myself and eventually pursued an agent for film and TV – which has always been my interest. I didn’t get many auditions in Brisbane, so I don’t feel like I really started until I moved to Vancouver, where I did a similar thing – found classes, sought out an agent and the auditions really began there.
How has this changed your life?
Prior to taking on acting as a career I was in a very regimented and planned work environment – which I thrive in. I don’t like chaos and uncertainty. Somehow, I found myself in a career where I control almost nothing, everything is last minute and unknown (laughs)! It’s quite a big shift. It has also meant sacrificing being close to my family.
What is the best and worst part of being an actress?
The best part is the feeling I get when I play a role. It’s an almost indescribable elation – even in difficult scenes. Also, the process of collaborating with the cast and crew to create a story the audience can be drawn into is very rewarding.
The worst parts are that lack of certainty and being away from my family.
How do you prepare for a role?
I read the entire script multiple times until I have a really good idea of “who” my character is and “what” happens. Then I get the “one-liner” which is the schedule of shooting i.e. what order the scenes will be shot. From there I take to a spreadsheet (I told you I like order and planning) and map out which scenes I need to work on first. Then I map out the story arc and my character’s arc. Then I start working on each scene in order of shooting. I note on top of all my scenes where the character is at in her journey at the time the scene takes place. I will often select several scenes to work on with my acting coach and come up with different options or interpretations to play with on set.
Tell us about your work in popular projects like Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok, The,” CW’s “Supergirl” and ABC’s “A Million Little Things?” How did you get the role and how challenging was the casting?
If I remember correctly, they were looking for people with particular body measurements to conduct wardrobe tests and hair/makeup tests for various characters and I fit the measurements. I was at the studios several times testing out some incredible costumes and hair/makeup looks which were considered by the director to help him decide which artistic direction he wanted to go. Because I’d done that, the creators/casting asked my agent if I wanted to have a small role and obviously I jumped at the chance. Being on set was electric. I was lucky enough to be in a few scenes that Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Jeff Goldblum were in. Watching them work was eye opening. They were having the best time. I got a crash course on how things worked on a big set and from there I wanted more. I wanted to be where they were.
This was an in-person audition not long after I moved to Vancouver. My agent had convinced the casting director to give me a chance at an audition and the next day I booked it. I couldn’t quite believe it. I had been watching this show since I’d arrived in Vancouver – I was trying to watch everything that was filmed here – so it was a thrill to be booked on it and get to work with actors I’d been watching at home. I remember the director of that episode, Stefan Pleszczynski, was so welcoming and I really enjoyed my scenes with the cast.
A Million Little Things
I received this audition from my agent as a self-tape so I was able to prep it and record with my coach. There was a callback via Zoom with the director, show creator – DJ Nash, and other producers. This was nerve wracking. I’d not done a callback like this before. DJ Nash in particular, was very welcoming and made me feel at ease. Being on set was a little stressful and unusual – being in the midst of strict pandemic restrictions – but Chris Geere and Allison Miller made the shoot enjoyable and a great learning experience.
What other projects have you been part of?
I’ve recently been fortunate enough to play the lead role in two tv movies.
The first, Meeting Mr. Christmas, aired around the world from November 2022 (in US, Canada, Germany, UK and Latin America). I play Sophie, a popular travel blogger who is not a fan of Christmas and avoids it at all costs. But those views are challenged when she must team up with the “holiday loving” town doctor to save her family’s annual Christmas event. It’s a fun holiday romance. This shoot was so memorable and a fantastic learning experience. I had a wonderful time with the cast and crew and feel very lucky to have been involved in this project.
The second, The Pregnancy Scheme, aired June 11, 2023, in the US on the Lifetime network. In this thriller I play Julia who faces financial catastrophe when she finds herself pregnant, newly single and suddenly jobless. A new friend (played by Ruth Bidner) suggests that there is a market for positive pregnancy tests. Julia reluctantly agrees but almost immediately regrets her decision. When she tries to back out of the scheme things go from bad to worse. This shoot was such an interesting one because my character was pregnant, it required a fair amount of physicality/stunt work (which I’d not done before) and was very emotional in parts. I relished the challenge. On top of that, the cast, crew and director (Ann-Marie Flemming) were really excellent to work with.
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
There is something interesting in every role/every character, but I would like the opportunity to play an evil character. I think the further the character is from you as the actor the more there is to discover and play with.
If you weren’t acting, what would you be up to right now?
Ooof I can’t even imagine not acting but…. I think I’d likely still be a lawyer in Brisbane.
Can you name 3 actors/actresses you would love to work with?
Only three? That’s tough! Ok… Meryl Streep. Bryan Cranston. Olivia Coleman.
Bonus: Omar Sy if I could learn French!
What’s your advice for the newer actors?
Always be willing to learn from everyone and every experience. Don’t let negativity about the industry and inside the industry get you down or dictate what you do. Also, find what works for you. I mean this in relation to every aspect of acting as a career. You don’t have to take the same path as others – you don’t have to like the same classes, the same shows or theatre or genre as others, you don’t have to prepare the same way others do – to be an actor.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?
To view it as a business. Consider decisions from the perspective of the producers, directors, executives. It makes decisions less personal and helps me move on to the next opportunity more quickly. Also, a career in this industry is a marathon, not a sprint.
Now tell us about the Curiouscast’s popular scripted podcast Escaping Denver and what we can expect for Season 3?
Escaping Denver is a scripted podcast – like the old radio plays – where a narrator takes listeners through voice messages he has received from Sara (who I play) and Noah (Brady Roberts) who wake up trapped miles underneath the Denver Airport. The audience follows as Noah and Sara record their attempts to find their way out of what can only be described as a labyrinth filled with unimaginable horrors.
Season 1 and 2 are available now on Apple podcasts and Spotify. Season 3 will be released very soon – release date pending.
In Season 3, anticipate quite a few unexpected twists and turns, some new characters and some familiar ones…
What is different from your podcast to other podcasts?
It is fiction and scripted and it has the added element of being a podcast within a podcast. Most podcasts are unscripted.
How often do you release new content?
For Seasons 1 and 2 content was released every 2 weeks. The entire Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Spotify and Apple podcasts to binge listen. For Season 3 I understand there is a chance content will be released weekly but that’s yet to be decided.
What do you think is the secret to having a successful podcast?
I think the creators and writer have crafted a story that has an audience ready-made, and the story is captivating and makes listeners want to find out what happens.
How would your best friend describe you?
Probably as funny … and anxious. (Laughs)! But also, as caring, loyal and an avid storyteller.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
My dream is to have the freedom to live between Australia and wherever I am shooting so that I can spend all my down time with my family and friends. For work, to be starring in films and TV shows in roles that challenge me and that are award-winning. I’d like to be involved in telling stories that make people think and see things from different perspectives and also, make people laugh – maybe not all at the same time.
Fav book: The Echo Chamber by John Boyne
Fav movie: The Intouchables (2011) starring Omar Sy
Where we can follow you
Photo Credit: Kristine Cofsky / @theportraitsessions