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