JACK IR­ISH

Went­worth’s Danielle Cor­mack shakes off the iconic char­ac­ter Queen Bea with new chal­lenges, writes HOLLY BYRNES

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

FOR Went­worth fans, Danielle Cor­mack still casts the long, dark shadow of one-time prison top dog Bea Smith. So im­pos­ing and im­pres­sive a per­for­mance was it by the New Zealand-born ac­tor that it seems im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve it has been two-and-a-half years since Cor­mack bid the iconic Aus­tralian drama – and her ac­claimed char­ac­ter – good­bye. Not that Cor­mack has been rest­ing on her lau­rels – trip­ping be­tween film­ing the sec­ond sea­son of Fox­tel’s po­lit­i­cal thriller Se­cret City: Un­der The Ea­gle and star­ring as Guy Pearce’s com­pli­cated love in­ter­est, psy­chol­o­gist Rory Finch, in ABC drama Jack Ir­ish. With five months of the­atre work in Sydney (in Bell Shake­speare’s re­work­ing of The Misan­thrope) and the Queens­land The­atre Com­pany’s production of Hedda Gabler in Bris­bane ahead of her, there has been no dim­ming of de­mand for Cor­mack’s tal­ents.

While her Went­worth fans might still see Bea, the 47-year-old pow­ers on to chal­lenges anew. “For ev­ery day,” she tells TV Guide, “it’s a step away from Bea, and the truth is I carry all of my char­ac­ters be­cause they are me. I don’t think you can com­pletely shake a char­ac­ter, but I cer­tainly feel a long way away from Bea Smith.

“I ab­so­lutely adored be­ing part of Went­worth and have great af­fec­tion for the show and what it’s done for me.”

Pulling on the clothes of the next char­ac­ter, im­mers­ing in new worlds, or ex­ist­ing en­sem­bles such as Jack Ir­ish, is what pro­vides new in­trigue. The appeal of play­ing Rory, Cor­mack says, “was a chance to play some­one who was more ob­ser­va­tional than re­ac­tive like a lot of the char­ac­ters I’ve played.”

At a time when the power pen­du­lum in the TV in­dus­try is fi­nally shift­ing to re­flect more gen­der bal­ance, Cor­mack ad­mits to be­ing more con­scious of the parts she chooses and the wider role she has to play. No longer con­tent to play one-di­men­sional sup­port­ing roles, Cor­mack says she seeks out the com­plex and com­pli­cated, such as Dr Finch.

“For me, I saw it more like, she is just as messed-up and dis­lo­cated as Jack and to me that re­ally helped form her as a whole per­son,” she says.

Cre­at­ing her own op­por­tu­ni­ties is also part of what ex­cites Cor­mack, re­cently team­ing with her Went­worth co-star Ni­cole da Silva to form their own production com­pany, Four One One.

Seiz­ing on move­ments in­clud­ing ‘50/50 by 2020’ (a push to see women hired in 50 per cent of avail­able production roles, both as cast and crew); Time’s Up and the local equiv­a­lent, Now Aus­tralia, Cor­mack notes change is al­ready ap­par­ent.

“There has been a huge shift,” she says. “A huge per­spec­tive and paradigm shift over the last two or three years in terms of gen­der bias and also the roles that we play in the in­dus­try and then in the world, be­cause each re­flects the other.”

Her ad­vice to those slow to grasp the changes is sim­ple: “If you haven’t ac­knowl­edged that con­ver­sa­tion or sat down and even lis­tened to it … haven’t started to ap­ply what has been dis­cussed in those con­ver­sa­tions … then I don’t think there’s any space for you in the in­dus­try. I think you just need to eff off and go and find some­thing to do by your­self.

“With all the ef­forts and all ears to the ground, it should be hap­pen­ing at light speed. And I have no tol­er­ance for any­one who has any ex­cuses not to be em­ploy­ing cer­tain codes of prac­tice, or con­sid­er­ing th­ese dis­cus­sions.” 8.30PM, SUN­DAY, ABC

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