Swapping fame here in Australia for obscurity in Hollywood has given Jessica McNamee time to mature ahead of her small-screen return
Having quit her role on Packed to the Rafters in 2010 for Hollywood, Jessica McNamee has been linked to a number of projects – including a remake of Judith Krantz’s Scruples – that have never come to fruition.
But now she’s finally hit paydirt with Sirens, a TV comedy centred on a group of Chicago paramedics, also starring Michael Mosley, Kevin Daniels and Kevin Bigley.
Congratulations on Sirens. It must be a relief to be in a show that looks like going the distance …
Absolutely. It’s been a crazy couple of years over here (in LA). I shot the pilot of this in 2012 and it’s only now that we wrapped the second season. It has been a long process. I’m very lucky to be one of the ones who are working over here. It’s a tough industry.
Sirens looks like a lot of fun to film …
It’s an absolute blast being on set with all these guys. It is a bit of a boys’ club so I have to check myself sometimes and remind myself that I’m a lady. I’ve given up putting on heels when I’m surrounded by 100 men. I’m going to football games, bars and drinking beer. We’re all really good buddies.
How challenging has it been moving into the realms of comedy on Sirens?
I’m a ridiculous human being just generally, but I’d never really been given the opportunity (to be ridiculous) on screen. I didn’t know if I was any good at it but I was always attracted to it. I’d been a bit of a one-trick pony in Australia.
When you look back, how brave a decision was it to quit Rafters for Hollywood?
It was hard to leave the actors because they were like family but I never regretted that decision. It was the best decision at the time. I was really lucky that straight out of that I landed the role on The Vow, which I got from an audition in Australia. So I came to America with work (already set up).
Was it strange to be an unknown in LA?
I was young and quite intimidated by the aspect of being well known in Australia at the time, I don’t think I handled that very well. I found it really overwhelming. It was nice to get out and be in America and have no-one know who you were. Now I’m at an age where I feel I can deal with that aspect.
Hollywood has a reputation for being a tough town to crack. How difficult has it been for you?
It hasn’t necessarily for me been a case of having to find work. The hard thing is the waiting. We didn’t know if we were going to do Sirens until a year after the pilot. You have to deal with the fact that you’re a bit of a pawn. I shot two other pilots before Sirens that didn’t get picked up – and that was a blow. That was two years running. You’ve got to have a thick skin.
Sirens, ONE, Thursday, 8.30pm
Jessica McNamee and her Sirens co-stars Kevin Daniels, Michael Mosley and Kevin Bigley.