Acting her age
Liberated from the idea of an expiry date, Rebecca Gibney tells Holly Byrnes life’s great in the driver’s seat
IT’S a snapshot of where Rebecca Gibney is in her working life. Directed into position for our photoshoot, she sits as if on a throne – upright and in control. Literally three frames later the 49- year- old has nailed it.
Now, this is a woman who can fi nd her mark and deliver gold. In the compelling new telemovie,
The Killing Field, Gibney is similarly in charge – both in front of the camera as lead detective Eve Winter, burying her own past as she hunts for a serial killer in a country town, and behind the scenes, as a fi rst- time producer.
Gibney revelled in her new role at the helm – “living and breathing the project for a year” – and the opportunity to showcase lessons learned over three decades in the television business.
Far from the anxious actress who spent her 20s and 30s insecure about her talents and fearing the “expiration date” which still hangs over many women, Gibney has her eye on being Australia’s answer to Dame Helen Mirren.
After six years and a Gold Logie on the much- loved Packed to the Rafters, Gibney was keen to explore life after Julie Rafter.
“There was always that panic of, ‘ Oh I’ve got to get in as much as I can because everyone talks about roles drying up for women in their 40s’. Well, you know what, I’m nearly 50 and it’s not happening,” Gibney says.
“I’m not worried about my expiry date anymore, because I’m creating jobs for myself now. It’s not about waiting for roles to happen. My husband [ Richard] and I have a production company and we’re developing two fi lm scripts on top of what we’re doing in television. Regardless of what happens in television, I’m here for the long haul,” she says, defi antly.
“Women moving into their 40s and 50s can go, ‘ Actually, we are still vital, we still have voices, people still want to watch us’, and that’s been such a blessing for me.”
In a nod to Dame Helen’s enviableat- any- age appearance in a swimsuit a few years back, she adds: “I might even rock a red bikini myself in my 60s. Well that’s the plan, anyway.”
The comparison to the great British actress, who paved the way with her pioneering performance as detective Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect, is not too far removed from what Gibney has created with Winter in The Killing Field – an enigmatic woman with a quiet strength, but not so cold she’s unlikeable.
Winter is competent and career- minded, but made vulnerable by the nature of the job of tracking child killers, only further complicated by her romantic entanglement with her colleague, detective Inspector Lachlan McKenzie ( Peter O’Brien).
So nuanced is Gibney’s performance, it’s not surprising she confi rms they are in talks to develop the telemovie into a longrunning series.
“We talked about how [ Winter] gets very attached to victims’ families and there is this back story we will explore in the series. We couldn’t go into it too much because it would have impacted the plot. “
The reunion with O’Brien is good news for both actors, who picked up where they left off in the iconic outback drama The Flying Doctors.
Gibney was “a little bit dubious and a bit concerned” about recapturing the magic they had as TV lovebirds Emma Plimpton and Sam Patterson, “but the minute Pete walked on set we were back to being how we always were”.
“We’re lucky we did have that chemistry, we still do and hopefully he’ll be back for the series as well, if we get the green light”. THE KILLING FIELD Tonight 8.40pm, Southern Cross