Lucy Lewis Can't Lose to launch on 3NOW

Thomasin McKenzie and Miranda Harcourt.
Thomasin McKenzie and Miranda Harcourt.

A 3NOW webseries launching in August centres on an academic battle of good versus evil played by a real-life mother and daughter.

Lucy Lewis Can't Lose stars Thomasin McKenzie in the title role as a student, who after surprisingly being voted School Representative must conquer her greatest fear to defeat the plans of the evil principal.

That principal, Ms Parker, is played by none other than McKenzie's own mother, acclaimed New Zealand actor and acting coach Miranda Harcourt.

The show is described as hilarious and fun, but ultimately is about a girl overcoming her fears for a very important cause.

"She conquers her fear because she wants to stand up for what she believes in," says McKenzie.

"She's trying to get the principal to put more money towards having breakfasts at school for the kids of poorer families. So that's why she conquers her fear of speaking in public, so she can fix that problem."

Lucy Lewis Can't Lose to launch on 3NOW

The fiendish Ms Parker (Supplied)

In real life, McKenzie says she got into the last round of a recent speech competition at her school, but didn't win. She says she enjoys public speaking in real life, but gets quite nervous "like everybody else".

Although the show is aimed at a youthful audience, Harcourt says she's very impressed with its quality and viewers of any age will be amused.

"It's a very quirky, charming show with great acting in it. It's one of those classic Kiwi kidult shows, a bit like Terry Teo I guess, where all the kids are very well-rounded human beings and the adult characters are the mad, more comedic characters," says Harcourt.

"All of the teenagers in the show are very individual and the acting is fantastic. So that's what I love about it, as an acting coach."

"I really like the wide range of characters, there's different races, different body shapes, it's really cool - they're not all the typical sort of people," says McKenzie.

"There's a fluent Te Reo Maori speaking character, who is fluent in real life too."

McKenzie has previously starred in major roles that include a cancer sufferer and a rape victim, so the lighter, more comedic role was a breath of fresh air for her.

Lucy Lewis Can't Lose to launch on 3NOW

"It was fun as it wasn't as intense and it was nice acting with mainly other people of my own age, which I haven't really done before," says McKenzie.

She's also been acting with people her own age in web series Bright Summer Night by the Candle Wasters, which Harcourt describes as having a huge following in America of "geeky chicklet glasses-wearing girls who love adaptations of Jane Austen and Shakespeare".

While the show will centre on the titular Lucy Lewis, the Ms Parker character sounds particularly memorable as a very nasty and somewhat deluded school principal.

"She really does not care at all about the students' wellbeing, she just cares about the image of the school and her own image," says McKenzie.

"She wants the school to have more money and be more of a private school rather than a public school."

"She's a principal that you'd expect to meet at St Cuthbert's, but she's at somewhere more like Western Springs High School," adds Harcourt.

"There's a massive mismatch between how she sees herself and the school she's actually the principal of. She is villainous and sees herself as villainous, she's a really horrible person. That's what I loved about playing her."

Harcourt's performance as Ms Parker isn't based on a real-life school teacher from her past, but rather "the worst aspects of my own personality", she says.

"She's just like you, mum," chimes in McKenzie mischievously.

Perhaps living and working with her mother is taking a heavy toll on McKenzie.

"It is quite the struggle," jokes McKenzie.

"It is very hard working with Miranda Harcourt, I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.

"I'm kidding! She's an incredibly talented actress and acting coach and so forth. But I do find it hard working with her, just because she's my mum."

"It's hard working with Thomasin because she's so disobedient and irresponsible," says Harcourt.

"But it was kind of easier in this one, because my character is just so ridiculous. So it was all about pushing the envelope and making her as evil as I possibly could."

Upon being pressed for positive aspects of the character, she says "she has an awesome hairstyle, which I'm really thrilled with. It's one of those concrete helmet sort of hairstyles."

Ms Parker, known as The Dragon by the school's kids and something unrepeatable by the staff, can be seen in all her glory next week.

Lucy Lewis Can't Lose is available on 3NOW from Monday 8 August.

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