Confronting role a real eye-opener for Ashleigh
EENAGE actor Ashleigh Cummings says being cast in a lead role in the coming-ofage series Puberty Blues has made her more sexually aware.
Cummings says she started reading the novel, written by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey in 1979 about two 13-year-olds growing up in Cronulla, when she found out last year she would be auditioning for the role of young teenager Debbie Vickers.
The 19-year-old says she was startled by what she discovered inside the covers of Puberty Blues.
‘‘On the surface I was a bit shocked by the confronting nature of it and how young the girls were,’’ Cummings says. It was, she says, ‘‘quite surreal’’. ‘‘In terms of the sexual nature of it, I wasn’t aware of a lot of that and I’ve learnt so much (doing this movie).’’
The premiere, eight-part Network Ten series focuses on Vickers and best friend Sue Knight (played by Brenna Harding), their sexual awakening and ambitions to be with the in-crowd. It is being called a fleshed-out adaptation of the novel, made into a film by director Bruce Beresford in 1981.
Cummings says the series remains true to the book. context and everything, the customs and lifestyles of the ’70s.’’
Cummings took some surfing lessons to prepare for the role.
‘‘We had a few surfing sessions but the nature of our surfing abilities (in the series) was supposed to be limited anyway,’’ she says. ‘‘But I am passionate about it now and I want to give it a good hot shot.’’
The hot, sunny days portrayed on screen are in sharp contrast to the realities of filming. The series was shot over autumn and winter, and Cummings and Harding had to steel themselves for the cold water and windswept shores of Cronulla beach.
‘‘It was quite a chilly at times, but they were really good, giving us hot water bottles and heat packs and jackets’’ Cummings says. Cummings will head overseas for three weeks to work as a volunteer in South-East Asia before returning to Melbourne, where she will reprise her role of Dot in the second season of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries for the ABC. Brenna Harding (left), as Sue, and Ashleigh Cummings, as Debbie, in Ten’s new series
Filmed in Sutherland Shire, where the book is based, there is no holding back either: nudity, drug references and sexual themes punctuate the series.
‘‘The essence of the book and the story is still very much present,’’ Cummings says.
‘‘It was not an adaptation of the book. The story lines have been fleshed out and exploring the parental roles of that generation and it’s intriguing.
‘‘There is so much stuff in terms of the social
Wednesdays, 8.30pm, Ten, Ten SC.