SERGEANT BLOSSOMS AS ROSE
CONNECTING with Rose Hancock, the sparkling socialite and one of Australia’s original millionaire housewives, came as a profound shock to actor Peta Sergeant.
The chance to play the “fl amboyant, emotional and mercurial person” was a dream job, guaranteeing Sergeant would up- end the life she’d just established in Los Angeles with husband Rohan Nicol just six weeks before winning the part.
But just a few weeks into fi lming, Sergeant admitted she was questioning everything she thought she knew about Rose.
“By the time we were a third to halfway through, I felt vigilant about protecting her,” she said. “I felt she’d been grossly misrepresented in the media.”
Australia’s attitude towards Asians at that time in particular, struck a chord with Malaysian- born Sergeant
“Not to diss Aussies too much, but we do have a xenophobic attitude to outsiders,” she said.
“Before ( Rose) had opened her mouth, I think she was already being cast as the villain. She was the outsider, she looked diff erent, she sounded diff erent, she was not apologetic and that’s not a good thing in Australia.
“You’ve got to learn to subvert yourself, have a laugh at yourself … you might call it humble, but it’s more about putting yourself down.”
The role was also the catalyst for a conversation between Sergeant and her mother, who confessed she had endured similar stigma when she fi rst married and moved to Australia with Sergeant’s father.
“I felt really blessed that on some level I understood Rose’s cross to bear,” Sergeant said.
“It was such a joy for me because I got to have conversations with my mum that I never had before about when she fi rst got to Australia and what it was like, what people were like to her.”