Life is sweet

Jes­sica Marais was handed an un­ex­pected perk on the set of The Wrong Girl

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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