Australian actress Rachel Griffiths has had a great decade. She made her feature debut as Rhonda in the smash import “Muriel’s Wedding” in 1994, and went on to appear in supporting roles in such pictures as “Cosi,” “Jude,” and “Children of the Revolution” before landing the part of Samantha in the Julia Roberts smash “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (1997). In the following year she co-starred with Emily Watson in “Hilary and Jackie,” and nabbed a supporting actress Oscar nomination. Now she can be seen in her first starring role as Pamela Drury, an unhappy woman who exchanges lives with the woman she’d have been if she’d married the suitor she rejected years ago, in “Me Myself I,” the directorial debut of “Shine” editor Pip Karmel, who also wrote the script.

“I did this [‘Me Myself I’] because I hadn’t made a film in my own
country for over two years,” Griffiths explained during a recent stop in Dallas. “I was wanting to work in my own vernacular, and had been doing all these really intense movies,…so I was really wanting to lighten up a bit and be a bit more playful. And this script came along.” “To me the movie is about how women of my generation have kind of grown up to believe that to self-actualize professionally means fulfillment, and this is about a thirty-something-year old woman who has professionally self-actualized and doesn’t know why she feels so unfulfilled,” Griffiths explained. So Pam pines over the lover she’d lost, and by some miracle is transplanted into the life she would have had with him (and their three kids) had she accepted his marriage proposal. (Her double, meanwhile, takes over her single life, though we don’t see her doing it.) In the process she manages to re-energize what had become a weak marriage and bond with the children, while also coming to understand what was good about her earlier existence.”This movie is like a ‘Groundhog Day’ or a ‘Big,'” Griffiths continued. “It’s about a person wrestling with the fact that their reality is impossible, and knows it.”

It wasn’t easy, the actress admitted, to make the situation persuasive to an audience, or to maintain the tone of both seriousness and humor that Karmel wanted to achieve.

“You have to make this great leap of imagination, and in the end you
have to kind of believe that an audience wants to believe,” Griffiths
said. “Sometimes I got myself into such knots whether or not I was
making believable [acting] choices.” When it came to the point early in the story when Pamela must come to terms with her new reality, she continued, “I really had to break down that section of the script and, with Pip, to deepen a whole new journey of her coming to accept her situation that wasn’t really there. Because that’s the moment when I said, ‘This is where we will make people believe.’

“But audiences want to be transported, you know,” Griffiths added.
“There’s no one in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ going ‘Nah, I don’t believe
it. Because we want to believe in angels and we want to believe it
magic. And cinema has [made it possible].”

Griffiths noted that working with a first-time director like Karmel, who had written the script herself, was especially rewarding. “The great thing about first-directors is that they usually have something, especially if they’ve written the script, that’s been in them so long that it has a great sense of meaning for them, and in the end I think I make movies for that…. There is something so wonderful about the first film people make!”

U.S. audiences now have the opportunity to see if they feel the same way about “Me Myself I” as Rachel Griffiths does.