Get your freak on
It’s Nicole da Silva’s Franky versus “The “The Freak” as Wentworth’s prison power games ramp up
WHEN she traded a US green card for a teal blue prison tracksuit to take the role of Francesca “Franky” Doyle in Wentworth, Nicole da Silva never imagined it would turn out like this.
It was 2012 when da Silva, having wrapped up four years playing tough girl Senior Constable Stella Dagostino on Rush, was ready to tread the wellworn path of Australian actors trying their luck in landing an American television role in pilot season.
“I was waiting for approval for my Green Card to give LA a shot. Then along came Franky,” da Silva says.
Season one of Wentworth, Foxtel’s reimagining of cult 1980s prison drama Prisoner, proved a hit for da Silva and the rest of the ensemble cast.
Now, as the 32-year-old dons the tatts and Wentworth teal blue for series two, those trackies are feeling mighty comfortable, and Hollywood’s on hold in favour of cell block H.
And if you thought season one was dark and tough, it’s about to get a whole lot meatier.
Franky is cementing her spot as top dog at the prison. Bea (Danielle Cormack) is non compos mentis in isolation in “the slot” after taking down prison matriarch Jacs (Kris McQuade) in the season-ender.
And striding into Wentworth, intent on taking charge, is new governor – Joan “The Freak” Ferguson (Pamela Rabe).
Wentworth has never been a place for the weak and da Silva says that’s especially true for Franky in season two.
Ferguson’s mandate is to clean up the prison.
“Each and every person here will know their place,” The Freak warns, and immediately starts trying to put Franky in hers.
It’s a brutal, dangerous and potentially deadly collision course, which sends Franky to new depths, da Silva says.
Worse than murdering a prison guard, or shoving someone’s hand in a steam press, as she did with prison matriarch Jacs (Kris McQuade) last season?
“It’s a dark arc. When you’re top dog you can’t afford to show a chink,” da Silva warns.
“She’s dangerous and volatile. She has to guard her position. Tapping into that is heavy.”
Da Silva was bowled over by audience reaction to Franky and Wentworth in season one. “I never would have thought Franky would resonate the way she did and be received with positivity,” she says of fan reaction to the show.
“In a way, season two for Wentworth as a whole is a bit like Franky’s story, or second-album syndrome.
“The pressure of – now you can’t take anyone by surprise – now you have expectations and we are faced with a new challenge of maintaining those standards and topping them.”
It seems Foxtel has no such qualms, with season three in production.
Off screen, da Silva says she shares Franky’s natural strength, “But I don’t let my temper get the better of me as opposed to Franky, who might.”
Also, she laughingly concedes, she hasn’t shoved anyone’s hand in a steam press recently.
“While it was nice to step into Franky’s skin again, this is definitely a darker season,” she says.
LA is still calling – “absolutely – but right now these trackie daks and a singlet are possibly the best work uniform anyone could ask for,” da Silva says.
“Except that it’s turned me off the colour teal blue.”
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Top dog: Nicole da Silva explores a dark arc in season two of Wentworth as her character Franky can’t afford to let down her guard.