Back in 1980, then-relative acting newcomer Sigrid Thornton signed on for a stint in hit Aussie drama Prisoner.
Her character, Ros Coulson was in prison after murdering the woman accused of killing her own mother. During her tumultuous year on screen, Thornton’s character managed to escape three times before she left the show.
So when the reimagining of Prisoner, Wentworth, first aired three years ago, Thornton was more than a little intrigued.
What did you think of the idea of Prisoner getting a prequel of sorts set in modern times? I’d long thought it was a great concept to extract and crystallise the idea of a women’s prison in modern times so the whole idea appealed to me. (It’s) a great vehicle for a fine female cast, as it was back in the day when we did Prisoner.
Had you watched Wentworth before you were asked to appear in the show? I’d seen the series, but I hadn’t seen it in its entirety back to back so I binge watched it all (after I got the part). It’s pretty riveting stuff.
It must be fascinating for you as a Prisoner veteran to see the genesis of the most famous characters? It is ... but it’s wildly different in the sense that there’s a lot of licence with the term “reinvention” or “reimagining”. To remake it, there’s a difference. The Freak is no longer the same, Vinegar Tits (Vera) is small and kind of fragile and all have different personality traits, and Danielle’s (McCormack) Bea couldn’t be more different from Val Lehman’s. These are interesting choices and they create something that’s a really different experience for the viewer. But it’s interesting that it has taken off with old Prisoner fans which is a good sign.
What can you tell us about your character in Wentworth, Sonia Stevens? Sonia is quite a high-powered social and corporate animal. She comes in on remand while awaiting trial for the murder of a very close friend of hers.
If Sonia is found guilty, would you happily stay behind bars for the fifth season? Absolutely. It’s been a really wonderful experience. It’s a very rich experience for an actor because when you come onto the set of Wentworth there’s a lot of meat and potatoes there.
It’s a long way from playing Judy Garland in the Peter Allen miniseries ... It is! But that’s the beauty of it. Like every actor, I want to keep moving forward and experiencing new environments, but very particularly, new characters. And Sonia’s not like anybody I’ve ever done before really.
WENTWORTH, SOHO, TUESDAY, 8.30PM