Teresa Mary Palmer (born 26 February 1986) is an Australian actress, writer, and model, best known for her roles in Warm Bodies, Lights Out and Hacksaw Ridge. She starred in, co-wrote and co-produced The Ever After with her husband, Mark Webber.
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. Her parents divorced in 1989 when she was three. She has a stepmother, Kaaren Palmer, as well as two half-sisters and two stepbrothers, who lived with her father. 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 private 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 an elf assistant to mall Santa Clauses on weekends for promotions in shopping centres near Adelaide. Palmer went to acting classes for a couple of years and appeared in a few television commercials. She was a fast-food attendant at Hungry Jack’s in Rundle Mall in 2005, before working at clothing retailers Supré, Mambo Australia, and Cotton On.
After graduating from high school, Palmer got a call from her local-talent 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 a university to study teaching and was taking a course on journalism, but had always dreamt of acting. Palmer dropped out of the university to work on the film.