Hicks up to old tricks
HER cast- mates call her the Goddess of Mischief. The nickname was bestowed on actor Katherine Hicks’ as her colleagues discovered her sense of fun during long days on set as she settled in as a full- time cast member on Southern Cross drama Winners & Losers.
And on this day, having come in on a rare day off shooting to grab lunch and chat, the mischief level is running high, as she cheekily explains how you prepare for an on- screen snog.
“You just break it down,” says Hicks, who plays the role of Sam Mackenzie the surprise and mostly unwelcome new addition to the Gross family on Winners & Losers.
“The best way is to be completely open and talk about it and pick the moment that needs to be punctuated so you know when it’s going to happen,” Hicks says.
“That way you don’t get nervous and end up kind of randomly sucking face. You just make it really technical, then it’s less weird and awkward.”
All of which indicates Hicks’ Samantha might be in for the long haul on Winners & Losers this season, with the prospect of romance, despite this week’s episode in which it seems her days trying to get to know her new- found family are numbered.
Hicks burst into the show at the end of last season, turning up as the “surprise” daughter of Brian Gross ( Francis Greenslade) the product of a one- night stand when Brian and his wife Trish ( Denise Scott) were temporarily separated.
Sam was unwelcome then, and in last week’s season opener was again pushed away, when, with an unintentional but appalling lack of timing, she reappeared at the Gross family home during a wake.
This week’s episode sees Samantha, three months on, and the Gross family uneasily trying to move forward.
Cue the most awkward of family lunches as Brian tries to get to know his daughter, his wife grimly pretends everything is fi ne, daughter Jenny ( Melissa Bergland) fears for her place in the family, and brother Patrick ( Jack Pearson) makes little effort to conceal his bitterness towards her.
It’s a scenario requiring tact, delicacy, diplomacy and a softly- softly approach from straight- shooting country girl Samantha.
And for Hicks, it’s a far cry from her last free- to- air role as the feisty fl ame- haired action woman pilot Heidi on the now- defunct Rescue Special Ops.
That role earned her a nomination for Most Popular Female New Talent at the 2010 Logie Awards and an Out of the Box Actor in Television Award nomination at the 2010 IF Awards.
“Heidi and Samantha were straight shooters, but Samantha is still a bit of a mystery and she’s having to tread very carefully,” Hicks says.
“As an actor I have been able to play around with bringing a level of grief and shell- shock into the character from the beginning.
“It’s tough times for Sam. It’s a tough entry into their circle.”
In a way life has imitated art for Hicks she has entered an established show as “the new girl”, much like Sam.
A country girl at heart she was raised in Byron Bay Hicks got serious about acting when she was 16. After a string of theatre, fi lm and television roles mainly based in Melbourne, she relocated to Sydney for Rescue Special Ops.
Then Winners & Losers saw her pack her bags again to move back to Melbourne as the new girl.
“It’s interesting because from a character perspective I was meeting all these people for the fi rst time, as well as from a real person with the cast,” Hicks says.
“It gave me a lot of material to use in terms of creating dynamics.
“It meant I could totally relate to that storyline of moving to Melbourne and meeting new people that’s what I’m doing.
Samantha may have got a frosty reception, but not so Hicks especially from the four women at the core of the show Bergland, Melanie Vallejo, Zoe TuckwellSmith and Virginia Gay.
“They’ve worked together for three years, they have this great rapport and they’re angels,” Hicks says.
“It seems like a complementary dynamic – where someone is a bit full on others are quieter.
“Where do I fi t in? Maybe for my comic effect.
“They call me the goddess of mischief on set at times you can sometimes be bored out of your brain waiting, it’s the end of the day, you’ve been on set for hours, you want a diversion. I sometimes create it.”
“One of the best things I’ll take away from the job are meeting those four and thinking ‘ wow, what awesome chicks’.
“I’ve landed in a good place.”