Went­worth a break­out hit

With a chang­ing of the guard, Ni­cole da Silva warns Went­worth is darker in sea­son two, writes Deb­bie Schipp

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

WHEN she traded a US green card for a teal blue prison track­suit to take the role of Francesca “Franky” Doyle in Went­worth, Ni­cole da Silva never imag­ined it would turn out like this.

It was 2012 when da Silva, hav­ing wrapped up four years play­ing tough girl Se­nior Con­sta­ble Stella Dagostino on Rush, was ready to tread the well- worn path of Aus­tralian ac­tors try­ing their luck in land­ing an Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion role in pi­lot sea­son.

“I was wait­ing for ap­proval for my green card to give LA a shot. Then along came Franky,” da Silva says.

Sea­son one of Went­worth, Fox­tel’s reimag­in­ing of cult 1980s prison drama Pris­oner, proved a hit for da Silva and the rest of the en­sem­ble cast.

Now, as the 32- year- old dons the tatts and Went­worth teal blue for se­ries two, those track­ies are feel­ing mighty com­fort­able, and Hol­ly­wood is on hold in favour of cell block H.

And if you thought sea­son one was dark and tough, it’s about to get a whole lot meatier.

Franky is ce­ment­ing her spot as top dog at the prison. Bea ( Danielle Cor­mack) is non com­pos men­tis in isolation in “the slot” af­ter tak­ing down prison ma­tri­arch Jacs ( Kris McQuade) in the sea­son- en­der.

And strid­ing into Went­worth, in­tent on tak­ing charge, is new gover­nor Joan “The Freak” Fer­gu­son ( Pamela Rabe).

Went­worth has never been a place for the weak and da Silva says that’s es­pe­cially true for Franky in sea­son two.

Fer­gu­son’s man­date is to clean up the prison.

“Each and ev­ery per­son here will know their place,” The Freak warns, and im­me­di­ately starts try­ing to put Franky in hers.

It’s a bru­tal, dan­ger­ous and po­ten­tially deadly col­li­sion course, which sends Franky to new depths, da Silva says.

Worse than mur­der­ing a prison guard, or shov­ing some­one’s hand in a steam press, as she did with prison ma­tri­arch Jacs ( Kris McQuade) last sea­son?

“It’s a dark arc. When you’re top dog you can’t af­ford to show a chink,” da Silva warns.

“She’s dan­ger­ous and volatile. She has to guard her po­si­tion. Tap­ping into that is heavy.”

Da Silva was bowled over by au­di­ence re­ac­tion to Franky and Went­worth in sea­son one.

“I never would have thought Franky would res­onate the way she did and be re­ceived with pos­i­tiv­ity,” she says of fan re­ac­tion to the show.

“In a way, sea­son two for Went­worth as a whole is a bit like Franky’s story, or se­con­dal­bum syn­drome.

“The pres­sure of – now you can’t take any­one by sur­prise – now you have ex­pec­ta­tions and we are faced with a new chal­lenge of main­tain­ing those stan­dards and top­ping them.”

It seems Fox­tel has no such qualms, with sea­son three in pro­duc­tion.

Off screen, da Silva says she shares Franky’s nat­u­ral strength, “but I don’t let my tem­per get the bet­ter of me, as op­posed to Franky, who might”.

Also, she laugh­ingly con­cedes, she hasn’t re­cently shoved any­one’s hand in a steam press.

“While it was nice to step into Franky’s skin again, this is def­i­nitely a darker sea­son,” she says.

LA is still call­ing – “ab­so­lutely, but right now these trackie daks and a sin­glet are pos­si­bly the best work uni­form any­one could ask for,” da Silva says.“Ex­cept that it’s turned me off the colour teal blue.”


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