Texan Leven Ram­bin takes on the chal­lenge of play­ing a for­mer child ab­duc­tion vic­tim in a newTV thriller, writes W

The Courier-Mail - - SWITCHEDON - Michele Manelis

hen Leven Ram­bin was cast as piv­otal char­ac­ter Kick Lan­ni­gan in new TV thriller, Gone, the Texan-born ac­tor had no inkling of the trauma ahead.

Ab­ducted as a child by a psy­chopath who held her cap­tive for five years, Lan­ni­gan’s fate came to in­sid­i­ously per­me­ate Ram­bin’s own life. “It was a very dark year for me,” she re­veals, “not just play­ing the role but re­search­ing for it.

“I suf­fered con­stant night­mares about be­ing kid­napped, my mum be­ing kid­napped or my boyfriend be­ing kid­napped.”

But the 27-year-old veteran of TV shows in­clud­ing Grey’s Anatomy,

True De­tec­tive and The Path says she wouldn’t change a thing.

“When I read the script, I knew im­me­di­ately the role was meant for me. I felt very called to it,” she says.

“I just knew that I had to get the role, what­ever it took.”

Ram­bin stars op­po­site Chris Noth, of Sex and the City and The Good Wife fame, who plays the FBI agent who res­cues Lan­ni­gan and points her in a new di­rec­tion. “Frank (Noth), a men­tor and fa­ther fig­ure, asks me to join the task­force to help find miss­ing chil­dren be­cause I’m fa­mil­iar with the in­ner work­ings of what kind of per­son would do that.”

To pre­pare her­self and to counter the PTSD she suf­fered as a re­sult of her ex­pe­ri­ence, Lan­ni­gan trains her­self to “be­come phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally strong through karate and (Is­raeli mar­tial art) Krav Maga” and em­barks on “ex­ten­sive weapons train­ing so she can feel safe again”.

Hon­ing the on-cam­era au­then­tic­ity be­tween her­self and Noth, which is so im­per­a­tive to the project, was much less chal­leng­ing.

“Once I tested with Chris I knew that this role was mine,” she says. “I love him and he loves me and that chem­istry was just there.”

But was she ap­pre­hen­sive about test­ing with Noth, for­ever syn­ony­mous with his role as Sarah Jes­sica Parker’s on-off Sex and the City paramour? “Not par­tic­u­larly,” she smiles. “I wasn’t re­ally ner­vous to meet him be­cause I was just a ca­sual fan of his and I never idolised that show. So I wasn’t su­per freaked out.”

Play­ing Lan­ni­gan, mean­while, led her to make some un­usual de­ci­sions.

“While I was shoot­ing, there were a cou­ple of days where I was re­ally not my­self. I was in a weird place and I called my friend and said, ‘Meet me at a tat­too shop’!” she re­calls, shak­ing her head. “So, I got a bunch of pierc­ings. I just felt that I had to be­cause it was my way of tak­ing out my angst on what I was go­ing through. Plus, I felt like Kick would have done that. I think it worked for the char­ac­ter and it looked cool on screen, in my opin­ion.”

The 12-episode pro­ce­dural drama, cre­ated by Matt Lopez ( Goth­ica) and based on Chelsea Cain’s novel, One Kick, inevitably pro­vided Ram­bin with quite an ed­u­ca­tion on the sub­jects of pae­dophilia and child pornog­ra­phy.

“It opened my eyes to a side of hu­man­ity that I didn’t re­ally know ex­isted, as far as what hu­man be­ings are ca­pa­ble of do­ing to an­other hu­man be­ing. I guess I was naive.

“But the fact is, this is very real and true, you just don’t see it on the sur­face. You don’t see the dark­ness that does ac­tu­ally ex­ist as you are walk­ing around and liv­ing your life. But the truth is, some­body is liv­ing it.

“I can’t un-know the things that I know now. Gone is real-life hor­ror and I find that I look at ev­ery­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ently now as far as chil­dren and their safety, par­ents and adults and the way they in­ter­act.”

Ram­bin, who has also ap­peared in the big-bud­get Hunger Games and Percy Jack­son fran­chises, be­gan her ca­reer aged 13 on the soap, All My Chil­dren. Mean­while, the legacy of the series has given her a new-found con­fi­dence in her own phys­i­cal abil­i­ties. Does she feel she could de­fend her­self in real life?

“Oh yeah,” she nods. “I think I could, def­i­nitely. Now that I’ve been trained in self-de­fence, my in­stincts would be more in­tel­li­gent if some­thing were to hap­pen to me than to run scream­ing.” GONE, UNIVER­SAL CHAN­NEL, FOX­TEL PRE­MIERES ON SATUR­DAY

EYE-OPENER: Leven Ram­bin plays Kick Lan­ni­gan in the new series Gone; (inset) with co-stars Chris Noth, Andy Mien­tus and Danny Pino. Pic­ture: Vir­ginia Sher­wood

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