A raft of op­por­tu­ni­ties

Vicky Roach talks with for­mer Packed to the Rafters star Jes­sica Marais about her ca­reer and what’s on the hori­zon

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES -

Your lat­est film, Planes, pre­miered at 9000m. That seems ap­pro­pri­ate… We have been trav­el­ling a lot. Lots of air­ports. Lots of planes.

How does ( 15- month- old daugh­ter) Scout deal with that? She’s a sea­soned trav­eller. Of course, they have their mo­ments – all chil­dren do. And she has just reached an age where she is a lit­tle more mo­bile, so we will see how she goes.

Jug­gling do­mes­tic life across two con­ti­nents must present a few chal­lenges…

I feel like it has re­ally fo­cused my en­ergy on my fam­ily as a unit and that home is wher­ever we are. There’s some­thing quite lib­er­at­ing about that. It means you don’t feel de­fined by your pos­ses­sions or your na­tion­al­ity.

How cru­cial was the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Dra­matic Art in pre­par­ing you for your cameo in Dis­ney’s Cars spin- off?

When you get into film and TV, there’s a lot of em­pha­sis on the phys­i­cal. They say the eyes on cam­era are the win­dows to the soul, so you rely on your fa­cial ex­pres­sions and body lan­guage – un­like a play, where the words tell the story.

This took me back into the world where the voice re­ally has to tell the story – as­sisted, of course, by the in­cred­i­ble an­i­ma­tion. And you spend a lot of time on that at NIDA.

Next up, it’s the ABC tele­movie

Car­lotta. Do roles like that come along very of­ten?

They don’t. As an ac­tor, you don’t get many chances to trans­form.

When you signed up for Magic City, the ’ 50s Mi­ami mob TV drama that screened on Foxtel in Aus­tralia, you said you were keen to leave the girl- next- door per­sona be­hind…

I am very happy for peo­ple to know me for­ever as Rachel Rafter be­cause she was such a well- loved char­ac­ter and I en­joyed play­ing her.

But there’s a dan­ger peo­ple will never see you as any­thing other than that.

Of course you want to throw a span­ner in the works. Car­lotta is a whole ’ nother chal­lenge again. It’s a beast of a role. You play Car­lotta, or rather Richard By­ron, as she was then, from the time she was a teenager… I play the 16- year- old boy tran­si­tion­ing at about 19 and then even­tu­ally hav­ing gen­der re­as­sign­ment.

So I had short hair and no make- up at all. We strapped down my breasts. I wore an ap­pendage to make it feel like I re­ally was a boy.

[ Car­lotta] would be the first to say that, as a boy, she was never a manly man, so it’s not like I had to turn my­self into the Rock or any­thing.

Did you do a dou­ble- take when you saw your­self on screen?

I found it in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing. There is some­thing very lib­er­at­ing about play­ing a boy. It al­lowed me to tap into the more mas­cu­line parts of my­self.

They are just parts of who I am as well, but they are not so­cially pre­scribed as fe­male so I prob­a­bly don’t air them all that of­ten.

You have just wrapped on Chan­nel Nine’s Love Child, which is set in Kings Cross in the 1960s. And Starz re­cently an­nounced there wouldn’t be a third sea­son of Magic City. What’s next?

I have just come back from a meet­ing in the US. There is stuff hap­pen­ing but noth­ing I can talk about yet.

Ul­ti­mately, I would like to work in film and tele­vi­sion over there and there are op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sent­ing them­selves in both.

It’s just about try­ing to have a sense of bal­ance in my life.

I want to have time with my daugh­ter, and Jimmy [ fi­ancé James Stewart] has well and truly earned his time back in the lime­light. He has got some things he is look­ing at do­ing.

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