Melissa Ge­orge

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE COUCH - HOLLY BYRNES NA­TIONAL TV WRITER

Turn­ing down “those bimbo roles” in Hol­ly­wood has paid off for Melissa Ge­orge.

Tak­ing the lead in NBC Uni­ver­sal’s new drama se­ries Heart­beat came af­ter years of knock­ing back bit parts and even­tu­ally tak­ing a pay cut, be­fore be­ing re­warded with top­billing as pi­o­neer­ing heart sur­geon Dr Alex Pant­tiere.

As added in­cen­tive, her char­ac­ter is also at the cen­tre of a sexy love tri­an­gle with Broth­ers And Sis­ters favourite Dave Annable and her Aus­tralian co-star of Off­spring fame, Don Hany.

You’ve had a his­tory of play­ing strong women on tele­vi­sion — in Alias, Hunted and more re­cently in The Slap. Was it hard to hold out for those meatier roles? Yes! To give you an ex­am­ple, I got of­fered two movies, I won’t say for what net­works, or what chan­nels, that I would have made a very sub­stan­tial amount of money from, at the same time The Slap came up, the Amer­i­can ver­sion. They’d al­ready cast the whole show and were look­ing for their Rosie (the role she played in the Aus­tralian se­ries for the ABC) and they didn’t have enough bud­get (to hire her). So I ba­si­cally took it know­ing I’d be turn­ing down a for­tune. My agent said ‘you’re pay­ing back into your ca­reer, trust me’ and of course, it was NBC who did The Slap and then in the last week of film­ing The Slap they of­fered me this role in Heart­beat.

It must have been tempt­ing as a young ac­tor in Hol­ly­wood to just take any work? Of course. As soon as I got to (Los An­ge­les) I turned down those bimbo roles...the sex ob­ject, the wife, the girl­friend, the one that had noth­ing to say. My first roles were in Mul­hol­land Drive and I did the pi­lot for LA Con­fi­den­tial. I just wan­dered along like that and drew those kind of (se­ri­ous) roles and said no to the rest.

This role gives you the chance to play a real-life power woman, based as it is on US heart sur­geon Dr Kathy Magliato. When we met, it was like a match made in heaven. We were al­most like the same per­son. She’s a woman who also has chil­dren, jug­gles a ca­reer, who does it all and doesn’t say no. In a man’s world she thrives, which in a way is the same as me.

Work­ing op­po­site Dave Annable and Don Hany ain’t so bad ei­ther... I ab­so­lutely love it. I’ve never had my shirt off in the show but the guys are con­stantly walk­ing around with­out their shirts on and I find it so funny. They’re all para­noid about get­ting into shape and I’m look­ing at them go­ing ‘eh hmmm, that sounds good...’ (gig­gling).

HEART­BEAT, UNI­VER­SAL, SUN­DAY, 7.30PM

Melissa Ge­orge is pre­pared to turn down big money to play meatier roles.

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