Teresa Edwina Palmer (born 26 February 1986) is an Australian actress. She made her film debut in the suicide drama 2:37. Palmer was seen in The Grudge 2 in 2006, in December Boys, alongside Daniel Radcliffe, and in the 2008 children's fantasy Bedtime Stories, with Adam Sandler. She appeared in The Sorcerer's Apprentice in 2010, with Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel, and her films in 2011 include a turn as an alien in the sci-fi film I Am Number Four, and playing Topher Grace's love interest in Take Me Home Tonight. Palmer was born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia. She is the only child of Kevin Palmer, an investor, and Paula Sanders, a former nurse and missionary. She has a stepmother, Kaaren Palmer, as well as two half-sisters and two stepbrothers, who lived with her father. Her parents divorced when she was three. Palmer stated to Interview that she "came from rather humble beginnings"; she lived in public housing with her mother, and grew up on her father's farm in the Adelaide Hills. Palmer was named after Mother Teresa by her mother, and has stated that she had a "tough upbringing" due to her mother's manic depression. Palmer was a student at Mercedes College, a Catholic day school, and won a local casting audition, "Search for a Movie Star", in 2003.
Her first acting job was dressing up as Strawberry Shortcake and Santa's Little Helper on weekends for promotions in shopping centres near Adelaide. Palmer went to acting classes for a couple of years and did a few television commercials. She was a fast food attendant at Hungry Jack's in Rundle Mall in 2005 before working at clothing retailers Supre, Mambo Australia, and Cotton On. After graduating from high school, Palmer got a call from her local agent about appearing in a student film, 2:37. The director had seen her head shot on the acting agency's website and wanted her to be in the movie. Palmer thought that she would work in an animal rescue service, and eventually open her own animal welfare agency. She was accepted into university to study teaching and was taking a course on journalism, but had always dreamt of acting. Palmer quit university to work on the film. Palmer was cast to star in the independent Australian film 2:37 by filmmaker Murali K. Thalluri, at the age of 18, with no previous film acting experience. She had been an extra on Deck Dogz (2005), and other films shot in Adelaide. Palmer portrayed Melody, a popular high school student who becomes suicidal after being impregnated by her brother.
She was nominated for the 2006 Australian Film Institute Award for Best Lead Actress for her performance. She signed with a talent agent in Sydney after working on the film. A role in Wolf Creek (2005) followed, in a pool party scene. Palmer starred in the psychological thriller Restraint, with English actor Stephen Moyer and Calvin Klein model Travis Fimmel. Shot on location around New South Wales in mid-2005, the film was written by Dave Warner and directed by David Denneen. Palmer was named an Australian "star of tomorrow" by Screen International that year. She then starred in December Boys, a coming-of-age film set in the 1960s, based on a novel by Michael Noonan. She played Lucy, who has a romance with Daniel Radcliffe's character on a remote beach resort. Palmer studied Dominique Swain's performance in Lolita (1997) to capture her character's overt sexuality. The film began shooting in November 2005 on the south coast of Australia. 2:37 premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard selection. The film received a standing ovation, a turning point for Palmer, giving her confidence in acting as a career. The trip to Cannes lead her to meet her manager, David Seltzer, and American talent agents. She signed with the William Morris Agency.
Palmer was cast to star with Tom Sturridge in her first American feature, Jumper, a science fiction film directed by Doug Liman. Her part was later recast when the lead characters were rewritten for older actors; her role went to Rachel Bilson. Palmer was devastated from losing the role and went back home to Adelaide for a few months. She made her Hollywood feature film debut in The Grudge 2 in 2006, a horror sequel starring Amber Tamblyn and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Palmer described her character, Vanessa, as "the bitchy schoolgirl". In early 2007, Palmer was cast as Tori Frederking in the comedy Take Me Home Tonight, starring Anna Faris, Dan Fogler and Topher Grace. Set in the 1980s, the film was directed by Michael Dowse, and was released in March 2011. Palmer starred in the film clip for the 2007 single "Breaking Up", by the band Eskimo Joe, shot in Newcastle. Palmer jumps into the sea in the clip with the band's singer, Kavyen Temperley. Palmer relocated from Semaphore Beach in Adelaide to Los Angeles in May 2007 to further her career, and began auditioning for films. She stated that Los Angeles was "a big adjustment" and "very different" from her home in Australia.
She went through a period of loneliness and depression, and considered going back home until she made friends there. In November 2007, Palmer was cast as the villain, Talia al Ghul, in the DC Comics superhero film, Justice League of America, alongside D.J. Cotrona, Adam Brody, Anton Yelchin, Common and Megan Gale. The George Miller-directed film was cancelled by Warner Bros. however, due to script rewrite issues and the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Palmer was the face of Sydney jeweller Jan Logan's "modern darling" collection in 2008. Palmer then won the romantic lead in Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Jon Turteltaub. The film is based on the animated film Fantasia (1940), which was inspired by a Goethe poem. Palmer filmed in New York City for six months and stayed in Manhattan's West Village. She played Becky Barnes, a college coed who is pursued by Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), a physics student and apprentice to the wizard Balthazar (Nicolas Cage). In 2009, Palmer formed the film production company Avakea Productions, with Australian actresses Tahyna Tozzi and Nathalie Kelley. She was a guest judge for the Optus one80project in Sydney, a filmmaking talent contest on MTV Australia. She filmed an ad campaign for the Australian jean store, Just Jeans, that year, and became the face and spokesperson for the Jurlique cosmetics company.
Palmer is directing a documentary film about a Kenyan-based charity, the Happy Africa Foundation. She will appear opposite Joel Edgerton in the independent Australian drama-thriller Say Nothing, directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith; the film began shooting in Sydney in November 2010. Palmer will star in Rue De Tournon, written and directed by friend Gracie Otto, set to film in Sydney and France in 2011. As of December 2010, Palmer and fellow actress Tahyna Tozzi were producing, writing and starring in their own film titled Track Town - a 1990s road movie they describe as a hybrid of The Wackness and Thelma & Louise. As of 2009, Palmer was the number one ticketholder of the Port Adelaide Football Club, along with David Koch, co-host of the television program Sunrise on Seven Network. It is a tradition for clubs to recognize a prominent supporter as the number one ticketholder. Palmer went to games with the team, spoke at functions, and performed a game-beginning coin toss. At the time, Palmer was dating then-Port Adelaide footballer, Stuart Dew. As of 2009, Palmer was renting a two-bedroom apartment in the Hollywood Hills, off of Mulholland Drive. She bought a house for her mother in 2006. Palmer had planned to buy a house in Los Angeles, but decided she would be happier living in Adelaide, South Australia and flying to Los Angeles to work. As of September 2010, she was looking for a house in the Grange, Semaphore or Springfield suburbs of the city. Palmer plans to open an animal shelter near her father's home in Scott Creek.
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