While the young male cast members of INXS: Never Tear Us Apart are playing world-renowned rockstars, the challenge for Jane Harber (Offspring, The Moodys) is to play a less well-known figure -the girlfriend of Michael Hutchence, Michelle Bennett.
“Michelle was Michael’s first love and somebody who played in his life for the next 20 years and was the last person he called before he passed away. She was a bit of a touchstone,” she told TV Tonight.
“They met at a gig when they were in the teens, but kind of before he found his groove. He was just starting out and she obviously loved his music having been to a couple of his gigs. They fell in love quickly, as you do when you’re a teenager.”
The relationship lasted for a few years before they broke up, but they would remain lifelong friends.
“I don’t think Michelle was wanting to put up with that kind of lifestyle. She wanted him to be successful, but didn’t want to be in that ‘rock star’ scene with the drugs, women and travel.”
Harber, who was born in 1984, has vague memories of the band’s music at the time of her upbringing.
“I remember being in high school and listening to their stuff and I was in Year 7 when Michael passed away, so I wasn’t really aware of that, but getting into his music later. My brother was older so he was always playing INXS,” she recalls.
While members of INXS have lent their support to the young actors portraying them, Harber acknowledges that she has had no such access to Bennett, who works in the industry as a film producer. So the task of giving a truthful portrayal is arguably more difficult for Harber.
“She is a very successful producer and owns Cherub Productions. She produced Chopper and does a lot of producing. But I haven’t met her. She’s very private, I’m assuming, which is understandable,” she explains.
“I think everyone on the show feels a sense of responsibility. Luckily there’s the (original) band to guide people and they’re on board with everything.
“My main objective is that there’s love between the two of them; that she obviously really cared about him and that that’s shown.”
Working closely with Luke Arnold (Michael Hutchence), Harber says it the chemistry between the two characters has come easy.
“We’ve hung out off set and Daina’s (Reid, director) been great, being able to rehearse…. so it hasn’t been hard,” she says.
“He’s such a beautiful man. Who wouldn’t fall in love with him?”
INXS: Never Tear Us Apart airs 8:35pm Sunday on Seven.