Act­ing her age

Lib­er­ated from the idea of an ex­piry date, Re­becca Gib­ney tells Holly Byrnes life’s great in the driver’s seat

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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