Playing Communications Manager Deb Van Exel in ABC’s upcoming series The Warriors, Lisa McCune is tough but “unashamedly” feminine.
In the very boysy world of AFL football, her character uses all her attributes to get the outcome she wants.
“We wanted her to grab her femininity and use it because it’s such a boy’s show, in the football world. So we thought it was terrific there was a character that had the heels, the wiggle and does it unashamedly. But she can hold her own in a group of boys. She’s like a hen mother, almost.”
So she thought nothing of a close up of her backside in the opening episode. It’s pure Deb, she explains.
“Deb Van Exel is the type of woman that if somebody was looking at her arse that’s great. It means they were looking at her and hopefully listen to what she had to say.
“Nobody had ever shot my arse like that!” she laughed.
“It didn’t bother me at all. If it looks half-decent I will put it on a showreel!”
“It’s really the boys’ show.”
ABC’s 8 part comedy-drama centres around a down and out team and in particular, its newest recruits two of whom are Indigenous. As the episodes unfold the glamorous world of elite sports challenges integrity and idealism.
“The Warriors are at the bottom of the heap,” McCune explains.
“They are run down, they haven’t got good sponsorship, they are certainly not the team going off to Arizona spending the best for their players.
“But it’s really the boys’ show. It’s their journey and we are the satellite characters.
“There’s a certain innocence for ‘Maki’ coming into the Victorian football world.
“He’s the #1 draft pick so he’s like a chess piece, because he’s the one they rely on.”
‘Maki’ is played by newcomer Gordon Churchill, who was discovered in the remote Indigenous community of Warmun in the Kimberley. He is joined by Reece Milne, Ben Knight and Nelson Baker plus seasoned actors John Howard and Vince Colosimo.
“They were a gorgeous group of boys, really terrific. (Producer) Rob Connolly was great to work with. I’m so glad he’s stepped in to do some TV.”
WA-born McCune grew up watching AFL with family and says fan passion helped drive her enthusiasm for the project, co-created by Connolly and Tony Briggs (The Sapphires). Much of that passion was on display when the Western Bulldogs finally won the flag after a 62 year drought.
“Just to watch the news coverage there were such passionate Doggies supporters. I loved watching the ladies who had been following them since their last win (years ago),” she recalls.
“I really took some of that on board with me when I went into shooting The Warriors. It doesn’t identify with one part of the community. It crosses demographics, it crosses everything.
“Listen to me I sound like a footballer!”
“Now that Sydney has come into the League a bit the language has crossed the border. Some of the Western Sydney games have been doing well. Listen to me I sound like a footballer! But Sydney Swans and Western Sydney are really pulling in a crowd now.”
Even the success of the AFLW has her excited.
“How inspiring for little girls. You grow up playing with your brothers and your dad out in the yard and you get to a certain age and you have to stop.
“Growing up in WA I saw The Winners every Sunday night, so I really understood football.
“It’s a great spectator sport.”
The Warriors premieres 9:30pm Wednesday April 12 on ABC.