HOLLY BYRNES

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IT’S hard to imag­ine any­one in­tim­i­dat­ing Claudia Kar­van. So it says ev­ery­thing about the tal­ent of the young cast in Pu­berty Blues for the Lo­gie and AFI-win­ning ac­tor to ad­mit her on-screen daugh­ter, Ashleigh Cum­mings, and co-star Brenna Hard­ing have kept her ‘‘ on her game’’.

Play­ing in­sep­a­ra­ble friends Deb­bie Vick­ers and Sue Knight (re­spec­tively), the young ac­tors are cen­tral to the iconic com­ing-of-age story and most times steal the show from their more ex­pe­ri­enced cast­mates.

Bring­ing to life their char­ac­ters’ naivety, Cum­mings says the op­por­tu­nity to play such free spir­its was a chal­lenge they both em­braced.

‘‘ We both have the same pas­sion and op­ti­mism in life.

‘‘ It was re­ally won­der­ful to play with. Deb­bie is also quite kid­dish, loose-limbed and like a lit­tle Bambi in the world,’’ the 19-year-old says.

‘‘ It was just fun to be silly and have no bound­aries.’’

‘‘ It wasn’t like work­ing at all,’’ Hard­ing, 16, says.

Cum­mings adds: ‘‘ I love her to bits.’’

The girli­ness aside, the wise heads on young shoul­ders have im­bued their per­for­mances with in­tel­li­gence and sen­si­tiv­ity.

‘‘ For girls, specif­i­cally,’’ Cum­mings says, ‘‘ it’s a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to look at the world in ret­ro­spect and see how far we’ve pro­gressed as a Rites of pas­sage: Ashleigh Cum­mings and Brenna Hard­ing play best friends Deb­bie Vick­ers and Sue Knight in the com­ing se­ries gen­der. To be grate­ful for the women back then who pushed through those bound­aries and rev­o­lu­tionised what we know to­day, so we don’t take it for granted.’’

A sis­ter­hood on set also served to en­cour­age the fe­male cast, with Kar­van an in­spi­ra­tion.

‘‘ She’s an in­cred­i­ble ac­tor and an amaz­ing woman. Very in­tel­li­gent and gen­er­ous and hon­est. I want to be her when I grow up,’’ Cum­mings says.

The ad­mi­ra­tion was mu­tual, with Kar­van prais­ing Cum­mings’ un­usual life ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘ She’s had a re­ally in­ter­est­ing child­hood, grew up in Saudi Ara­bia, so she’s not a cos­seted Aus­tralian subur­ban teenager, and had that life ex­pe­ri­ence un­der her belt, which she brings to this role,’’ Kar­van says. Pu­berty Blues, Chan­nel 10, Wed­nes­day Au­gust 15, 8.30pm

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