On the plane from New York to Los Angeles, where she’d be meeting Jennifer Aniston for the first time, Danielle Macdonald made the mistake of watching “Friends.”
“I was like, ‘Why am I doing this to myself? This is crazy!’ ” the 27-year-old Aussie remembers thinking. By the time she arrived at Aniston’s house, she was a nervous wreck.
But the feeling dissipated as soon as the “Friends” star walked out and gave her a big hug.
“I instantly relaxed,” Macdonald tells The Post. “I was like, ‘Oh, OK, you’re a human being.’ ”
That helped, since the two play mother and daughter in “Dumplin’,” the new dramedy streaming Friday on Netflix. Based on Julie Murphy’s bestselling young adult novel, the film follows a plus-sized teenager named Willowdean, who lives in small-town Texas with her mother, a former beauty queen who now runs the Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant. When Willowdean decides to compete in the pageant as a form of protest, she and her mom change in unexpected ways.
The characters’ relationship is often contentious, but Macdonald says that she and Aniston bonded right away. They started out by discussing their families, and on set, played around on apps together and watched animal videos.
“It was just so comfortable,” Macdonald says.
She’s also growing increasingly comfortable in Hollywood.
Born and raised in Sydney, Macdonald began performing little shows at home with her older sister, Tania. She started taking acting classes in eighth grade, and moved to LA before she turned 19.
In the years since, she’s appeared in small parts on TV’s “Pretty Little Liars” and “American Horror Story.” Her breakthrough role came in 2017, when she played a rapper in the Sundance hit, “Patti Cake$.” After “Dumplin,’ ” she’ll star alongside Sandra Bullock in the Nextflix movie, “Bird Box,” debuting Dec. 21.
But Macdonald still gets star-struck, especially when she meets a music legend. The day she and Aniston recorded backup vocals for “Push and Pull,” one of six new tunes Dolly Parton wrote for the movie, Macdonald arrived at the studio in dress-down mode: wet hair, no makeup and what she calls “plane clothes,” for her flight to Australia.
And there was Parton herself.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been more terrified in my life,” says Macdonald, who grew up listening to “Jolene” and “9 to 5” back in Australia.
But Parton, she says, couldn’t have been kinder.
“She was like, ‘You’re doing great. You’ll get there.’
“So it took me a little while to just kind of settle down,” Macdonald says, adding with self-deprecation, “and finally do something that sounded half-decent!”
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