The One That You Want:

New Zealand’s Robyn Mal­colm (right) is star­ring in Olivia New­ton-John: Hope­lessly De­voted To You, a mini-series about the fa­mous Aus­tralian singer and ac­tress. The ex-Out­ra­geous For­tune star tells Sarah Nealon about her role in the drama.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

Two-part drama spe­cial looks at the life and loves of Olivia New­ton-John.

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xcuse me, I’m shov­ing rasp­ber­ries into my gob while I talk to you,” says Robyn Mal­colm.

The Kiwi ac­tress, who is play­ing Olivia New­ton-John’s mother Irene in the two-part mini-series Olivia New­ton-John: Hope­lessly De­voted To You, is talk­ing to TV Guide from Utah where she has been film­ing the US fan­tasy series The Out­post.

Mal­colm (Out­ra­geous For­tune, Agent Anna) is nurs­ing a bro­ken arm af­ter she fell off a bi­cy­cle while rid­ing along­side her sons – aged 11 and 14 – dur­ing a visit back home.

The in­jured limb has been worked into a sto­ry­line for The Out­post and while Mal­colm is en­joy­ing be­ing in the US she was look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing to New Zealand.

Mal­colm, 53, lives in Auck­land but th­ese days mostly works abroad.

“It has been a busy time but at this point all I want to do is get back home and hang out on the couch with the kids and watch stupid TV,” she says. “I’m home for a bit and then I’ve got two jobs in Aus­tralia. It’s all go­ing to get busy again.”

Be­sides The Out­post, which is set to start in the US in July, Mal­colm’s overseas projects in­clude Aussie dra­mas such as Wake In Fright with Gary Sweet, Har­row with Ioan Gruf­fudd, and Olivia.

Olivia, which is based on the life of the singer and ac­tress, fol­lows New­ton-John’s rise to fame and touches on her per­sonal life, in­clud­ing her ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships and her breast can­cer di­ag­no­sis.

Delta Goodrem (The Voice Aus­tralia, Neigh­bours) plays the lead and the cast in­cludes Todd La­sance (Home And Away).

“They kept it very quiet that Delta was play­ing Olivia,” says Mal­colm. “There was a pre­tend ti­tle to the script, so you couldn’t tell who

it was. Then, of course, (there are) all the le­gal­i­ties I guess when you’re telling the story of some­one who is still very much alive and in­volved in the in­dus­try so I know they had to tread very care­fully with that be­cause par­tic­u­larly we’re all play­ing char­ac­ters who were very close to her.”

New­ton-John, 69, who starred op­po­site John Tra­volta in the 70s movie Grease, told The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly about her thoughts on the drama say­ing, “I prob­a­bly won’t watch it. When they told me they were do­ing it, I was hor­ri­fied...”

Olivia’s trailer shows Goodrem recre­at­ing New­ton-John’s role as Sandy in Grease, singing lyrics from the song Xanadu, and dressed in bridal at­tire.

“There is a beau­ti­ful nos­tal­gia to it,” says Mal­colm of the drama. “But there is a fas­ci­na­tion with it. We are fas­ci­nated by th­ese stars who have such longevity and Olivia is def­i­nitely one of those.

“She is one of the great stars of the an­tipodes and a very in­ter­est­ing and com­plex woman.

“She’s had a series of re­ally in­ter­est­ing re­la­tion­ships (and) she bat­tled can­cer.”

Mal­colm is full of praise for Goodrem in the role of Olivia, say­ing she “has got a phe­nom­e­nal voice and is a real star in her own right. She’s re­ally a plea­sure to watch too.”

Goodrem, who de­scribes work­ing with Mal­colm as “in­cred­i­ble and in­spir­ing”, rel­ished the chance to play New­ton-John.

“Olivia was my child­hood hero,” she says. “I am so lucky and grate­ful to call Olivia a friend and men­tor to­day. It’s such a full cir­cle mo­ment to be play­ing Olivia in a story about her life.”

But it wasn’t some­thing Goodrem took lightly.

“Olivia has al­ways been a part of my life by be­ing in­spired by her as an artist and a role model,” she says.

“I feel like I have been prepping my whole life for this role. Head­ing into film­ing, I stud­ied a lot about Olivia’s life and started to learn some of her nu­ances.”

For Mal­colm, play­ing Olivia’s mother Irene was a chal­lenge.

“Irene is Ger­man,” says Mal­colm, who wore sev­eral wigs for the role. “She lived away from Ger­many re­ally since she was a child.

“She had an Aus­tralian-Ger­manic ac­cent so I did quite a bit of work on that so I hope I’ve man­aged it.”

Mal­colm says her on-screen char­ac­ter ages decades dur­ing the mini-series, some­thing she thor­oughly en­joyed.

“The make-up depart­ment’s age­ing make-up was a work of art,” she says.

“That was one of the weird things for me, watch­ing them trans­form my face into the face of a woman in her late 80s ... It was quite amaz­ing.”

Delta Goodrem and Robyn Mal­colm

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