Life is sweet
Jessica Marais was handed an unexpected perk on the set of The Wrong Girl
IT’S hard to feel sorry for Jessica Marais.
After being cast as lead character Lily in comedic drama The Wrong Girl, she was enlisted to help audition her two handsome onscreen love interests.
“We saw so many guys and there were wonderful auditions,” Marais recalls of the casting process.
“Then we did some final camera tests and chemistry tests with Rob Collins (for up-and-coming food sensation Jack) and Ian Meadows (as Lily’s childhood best friend – and maybe more – Pete) and they both delivered such strong performances. Everybody knew they were it as soon as they were in the room.”
The Wrong Girl looks certain to be another hit for Marais, who has yet to appear in a TV dud since her Packed To The Rafters debut in 2008.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Zoe Foster-Blake, Lily is a breakfast TV producer who yearns to produce documentaries instead of the cooking segment she’s just been handed.
After crossing the line on a drunken night with her best friend Pete, both Lily and her flatmate Simone (played with aplomb by newcomer Hayley Magnus) decide to introduce a self-imposed man ban.
Hard to do when the devilishly attractive – and single – celebrity chef Jack enters their lives.
So far, so chick lit. But what sets The Wrong
Girl apart is the complex relationships which have been developed among the strong ensemble cast.
It’s split almost into two overlapping worlds. On the breakfast TV show set, Craig McLachlan, Madeleine West, Hamish Blake and Doris Younane are among those portraying the hosts and producers whom Lily must wrangle.
And on the home fronts, Kerry Armstrong and Steve Vizard play Lily’s parents while Kevin Harrington is on board as Pete’s dad, Ivan.
But bringing all those complex threads together is Lily – and Marais.
“She held the whole thing together,” Meadows says of his in-demand co-star.
“She did an amazing job in keeping the whole thing moving. There are lots of actors who are really good at maintaining a level of performance and
professionalism but Jess also has a great way of keeping everybody buoyant.
“That’s how it was for the whole shoot.”
The Wrong Girl was shot over three months in Melbourne, which meant not only was Marais working 14-hour days, but she was also separated from her four-year-old daughter Scout (who stayed in Sydney with Marais’ ex-fiance, James Stewart).
“I basically go into a cocoon when I shoot,” Marais says of how she coped at the time.
“It’s difficult because I was flying a lot of weekends to try to spend time with Scout – that nourishes my soul and my emotional side which gives me the strength and will to continue.”
With filming now over, Marais is in another cocoon – but this time it’s in Sydney as she makes up for lost time with Scout.
“I’m just enjoying being a more hands-on mum,” she says. “(But) fingers crossed
The Wrong Girl gets a season two, that would be lovely.”
THE WRONG GIRL
WEDNESDAY, 8.30PM, WIN