Wentworth fans locked on love
What is it about prison shows that attract such a loyal, fervent fan base?
Ask the Wentworth stars and they will tell you, fans of the show are fanatical. But their support is integral to the success of the show.
When Danielle Cormack tweeted a ‘farewell’ of sorts to Bea Smith last year after filming completed, some even feared it may mean her departure from the show.
Cormack warns TV Tonight against reading too much into her washing the red dye from her hair after a long production period.
“It was just saying ‘goodbye’ to Bea, not the show. I needed to shed the character because it was a very intense 2 seasons, but completely enjoyable,” she says.
“I just wanted to start being able to sleep on my pillow and not wake up (with a head full of red).”
Wentworth stars enjoy a close bond with their fans through social media, regularly responding to fan tweets and accolades. Fanaticism is a similarity shared with the show’s fore-runner, Prisoner. During its original run in the US fans of Franky Doyle even staged a funeral for the character played by Carol Burns.
But others, including Fiona Spence as Vera ‘Vinegar Tits’ Bennett, could be subjected to abuse by members of the public confusing their persona with their on-screen character.
Shareena Clanton (Doreen) says the cast are not readily recognisable as individuals, but it’s a different story when paired.
“We are more recognisable when we are together, with another person from the show,” she says.
“Remember that time in Chadstone? They’re lovely fans,” offers Celia Ireland (Lizzie).
Katrina Milosevic (Boomer) says, “They’re appreciative of the show as a whole, which is unlike anything I’ve experienced. And they’re not particularly attached to one person.”
“I think I can speak on behalf of the others. I don’t think anybody’s had weird personal threats or attacks,” Ireland adds.
But Milosevic recalls she has been mistaken for her thuggish character.
“I do get people treating me as though I’m Booms, as if I’m tougher than I really am. And swearing and cajoling.
“Then I realise ‘Oh they think I’m that kind of person.’ But that’s about it. No threats as such!”
Season 3 begins on April 7th on Foxtel picking up from the dynamite drama of Season 2 and Cormack hints at deeper layers for the inmates.
“I just saw the first episode of Season Three and this season explores the psychology of the characters,” she says.
“Generally most people in (prison) environments have had a lot of damage. So they have a lot of cracks.”
Ireland says cast are given an outline of their character arc ahead of each season but there could be late amendments.
“Usually at the beginning of a series we get a plot idea. So I kind of knew where I was headed. But it’s not like Broadchurch where they didn’t know who the killer was.”
“But in Series 1 we didn’t know who killed Meg,” Milosevic interrupts.
“I think that might have been because no-one knew!” laughs Ireland.
Robbie Magasiva, who plays security officer Will Jackson, agrees the show has great chemistry amongst its cast.
“It’s the first show I’ve worked on where everyone gets along. I’m working with a bunch of actors who always raise the bar. You always want to better yourself as an actor,” he says.
Having just completed his first US Pilot season, he is still hoping to appear in Season 4, to be based at a new undisclosed location.
“It will be interesting but I have no idea where it is,” he says.
“I think at this stage it’s negotiations for everyone so until those contracts are signed we’ll find out where our next base will be.”
Meanwhile ASTRA winning actress Danielle Cormack, whose list of credits also includes Underbelly: Razor and Rake, is grateful for the the fan enthusiasm, which has since extended to international audiences.
“Wentworth has been shown on Netflix in the States and Canada and gaining in huge popularity. I’m getting lots of feedback from the States saying they love the show. Of course Orange is the New Black gives us great leverage because people can continue with women’s prisons shows.
“I just love both shows.”