Viewers and critics had mixed feelings but, as Filthy Rich returns for a second season, Miriama Smith tells Kerry Harvey she believes the show will find its feet this year.
When Fisher threw Savannah off the balcony at the end of the first season of Filthy Rich, many thought the series was also a goner.
However, the home-grown drama – with nods to 80s shows such as Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest – seems to be a survivor.
One of the most expensive series filmed in New Zealand, the critics hated it and the reception from viewers was patchy. However, it seems TVNZ has faith, as does New Zealand On Air which coughed up $6.9 million for a second series – after shelling out $8.1 million on the first.
“The network has been great,” says Miriama Smith, who stars as Brady Truebridge, the hairdresser who married a rich-lister. “I was saying to a lot of the younger actors that, as a seasoned actor, I’ve never really felt so much support from the network. “They’ve always let us know from day one that they’re proud of it and to keep doing what we’re doing. It’s great to know that we’ve got that backing.” She believes the series will find its feet this year. “I think that any show in the first series is still trying to breathe and stretch its arms and trying to know where it lies in the landscape of television. Now we know who our fans are, we know who the audience are and that’s really nice.” Written by Rachel Lang – who was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours for her work on shows such as Outrageous Fortune, Westside, Nothing Trivial – and Gavin Strawhan (Hyde And Seek, Step Dave), Filthy Rich centres on the secrets revealed after the death of John Truebridge, one
“I think what Brady has is a degree of strength. She doesn’t have an MBA or any esteemed credits to her name but she has an incredible ability to cut through the BS and read people.” – Miriama Smith
of the country’s wealthiest men.
These secrets include his three illegitimate children – Joe (Alex Tarrant), Savannah (Emma Fenton), and Garth (Taylor Hall) – who are set to share his immense fortune with a horrified John Jnr (Josh McKenzie) and his stepmother Brady (Smith).
Things do not go smoothly and, as season two begins, Brady has lost control of the Truebridge Hunt Corporation. The power now lies in the hands of Fisher (Mike Edward), her once trusted deputy, and John Jnr’s scheming mother Vivian (Theresa Healey) has taken Brady’s place in the boardroom.
“Her driving force this year is taking back control of the company,” Smith says, who will have to battle old enemies as well as new threats.
“We’ve got some neat new characters coming in – likeable characters, challenging characters, lots of double-crossing. Every episode has a climax. I think our blood pressure rises, especially when it comes to the read-throughs. It’s like Game Of Thrones; it’s like who is going to die next.”
Smith says despite the high drama of Filthy Rich, the series reflects the way some Kiwis live.
“The show is very unapologetic, which can shock people,” she says, “but it’s not our job to inform or sway people ... It’s simply to reflect a part of a society that’s living and breathing in New Zealand.
“I think what Brady has is a degree of strength. She doesn’t have an MBA or any esteemed credits to her name but she has an incredible ability to cut through the BS and read people. She can look them in the eye and tell it like it is.”
Smith believes there is a little bit of Brady in her.
“I think I have to share some of Brady’s traits to really identify with her. For me it’s not about judging Brady. I might not agree with her and the choices she makes but I have to find out her motivation,” she says.
“I grew up in Porirua, Rotorua and Whakarewarewa. I saw women like Brady the whole time running the joint, whether it was marae or the wharenui, I saw so many examples of strong women who didn’t necessary have a million dollars in their bank and that’s where I draw from.”
The clothes – and the heels in particular – help with Smith’s transformation to Brady.
“It helps me to become Brady because I am so different to her. My husband might argue that because he’s on the firing end sometimes but I am quite a different woman to Brady.
“I put the heels on, the makeup, the power suit and it helps me get into that zone. When I drive back to Bay of Plenty I become a yoga teacher, a mum, all those things.”