Actor Liana Cornell has opened up about her famous parents, getting engaged and why she’s not afraid to be “ugly” on-screen.
Actor Liana Cornell has opened up about her famous parents, getting engaged and why she’s not afraid to be “ugly” on-screen.

Movie star on famous parents, Hollywood and engagement

Breaking into Hollywood is no easy feat and while most actors could only dream of having a leg up, Liana Cornell isn't relying on her famous last name.

The 30-year-old daughter of TV icons Delvene Delaney and John "Strop" Cornell and goddaughter of Paul Hogan told Confidential she made it her mission to succeed without her industry connections.

"Well I think that it could have used their help but I intentionally went overseas so that I knew for myself that I had done it (on my own)," she said.

"In America and the UK they're not as well-known and so it meant something. I didn't just get a free ride, otherwise I knew that I'd be 50 and look back and go 'would I have made it on my own?'

"I think the biggest help they gave me was strong morals, belief in being a good person and also the inherent talents and lust for living life to the fullest."

Actress Liana Cornell outside the QT Hotel in Sydney. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Actress Liana Cornell outside the QT Hotel in Sydney. Picture: Justin Lloyd

Cornell's father produced Crocodile Dundee and her mother is beloved '70s actor Delvene Delaney.

The do-it-alone career gamble seems to be paying off, with the NIDA graduate's hit show Britannia being renewed for a second season.

She's also recently become engagement to her long-time boyfriend Dan Martinovich.

"He asked me with a shell," she said. "He's a very unplanned kind of guy so it was very unplanned."

"While we were filming he kind of (proposed) in passing and said, 'you're so beautiful, will you marry me?' and I didn't answer because he drove away and I didn't think it was real and then he said he was serious and I said, 'well get on one knee babe'."

John
John "Strop" Cornell, Paul Hogan and Delvene Delaney.

The Byron Bay couple, who are based between Australia and the UK, bonded over their shared passion for the environment when they first met and are also art-lovers.

"He's my soulmate, I love him. He's a passionate earth-lover as well, so he's happy to support me in a lot of ways. We're also about to release an album together."

Paul Hogan with John Cornell and Delvene Delaney in The Paul Hogan Show.
Paul Hogan with John Cornell and Delvene Delaney in The Paul Hogan Show.

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Liana Cornell has been enjoying family time at home in Australia in recent months and is set to return to TV screens next week for season two of Britannia.

She said the historical fantasy drama was an instant hit with viewers when it premiered last year because it was timely.

Liana Cornell is engaged to boyfriend Dan Martinovich. Picture: Instagram
Liana Cornell is engaged to boyfriend Dan Martinovich. Picture: Instagram

"I feel like we're breaking through the patriarchy right now worldwide and that whole movement of Roman soldiers was very much that masculine energy coming into a feminine place," she said.

"I feel that people are resonating with the fact that yes we can fight against this, yes we can break things, yes there is an ancient feminine energy that we're all allowed to tap into (whether) male, female, non-binary.

"I think people want to see the good triumph and though historically it's not a good ending, I feel that the series kind of gives life to something that people wished happened."

Liana Cornell. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Liana Cornell. Picture: Justin Lloyd

The show has been likened to HBO's ratings juggernaut Game of Thrones and Cornell understands the connection.

"I feel like Britannia's pretty wacky, I feel like it's almost tongue-in-cheek at points and the Butterworth brothers (Jez and Tom) are so able to get a genre and turn it on its head," she said.

"I love Game of Thrones, I read all the books before it was a series and I remember praying that I would get a role but I was at drama school so I missed out on the casting but then Britannia came so it feels very aligned.

"I've always loved Celtic mythology and that whole world is important to me."

Liana Cornell is engaged to boyfriend Dan Martinovich. Picture: Instagram
Liana Cornell is engaged to boyfriend Dan Martinovich. Picture: Instagram

Cornell plays a strong female lead (Ania) she said it was important for viewers, particularly young women, to see versatility and diversity on-screen - not just stereotypical beauty.

"I love playing ugly … at drama school I was only the 60-year-old grieving mother - that was the role I got for so many plays," she said.

"That's something I respect about Margot Robbie is that she goes there … actors shouldn't be (afraid) because you're holding a mirror up to life, so you should be showing everyone that no matter what you look like on the outside you can be so beautiful on the inside or beautiful on the outside but horrible on the inside.

"We need to stop believing that outer beauty is the one important thing and connect with the truth of an individual."

Liana Cornell in a scene from TV series Britannia. Picture: Foxtel
Liana Cornell in a scene from TV series Britannia. Picture: Foxtel

When she's not acting, Cornell is passionate about philanthropy and environmental campaigns.

She said her dedication cost her friends and jobs many years ago and she's inspired by the new wave of "woke" culture and young people who want to do their part in saving the planet.

"It wasn't as cool five years ago and so a lot of people thought that I had lost my mind," she said.

"I've always cared very much about the environment. When I saw what was happening with the Great Barrier Reef and Adani, I was like 'I have to do something' and so I founded an environmental fund (Save Our Skins) and we channelled money into different research areas.

Another source of inspiration for Cornell has been her godfather Paul Hogan.

"He's the best godfather you could ask for, he's so funny. When we go out for dinner, because I'm so green and veggie oriented and he (loves) meat, it's always this battle of what restaurant we're going to go to," she said.

"He's been the most beautiful, supportive, guiding light in my life. When I was in LA, if I was having a rough time I would see him because he's such a brightener.

"He can make you laugh at anything. He's so quick and witty and it's so nice seeing him and dad together because they're still able to have that (bond) and enjoy each other's presence and make light of anything."

Britannia returns for a new 10-episode season on Tuesday, November 12 at 9.30pm, streaming on Foxtel and screening on FOX SHOWCASE.