Katherine Hicks: “I just don’t get this girl at all!”
Katherine Hicks wonders whether some of the Winners & Losers girls would actually be friends in real life.
Their characters are rock-solid friends in the Winners and Losers universe, giving advice and helping each other through the highs and lows of melodrama.
But when Katherine Hicks, who plays Sam Mackenzie on the Seven series, looks at the motivation and backgrounds of the four friends a few questions invariably cross her mind.
“As a joke I will often say to Virginia (Gay), ‘Do Frances and Sam have anything in common?’ Because her character goes on a lot of rants and passionate speeches –which I love. But Sam goes ‘God, she’s a bit weird!’ They’re very different people from very different backgrounds,” she says.
“Frances will have the best of everything and the best education for her daughter.
“But Sam is like, ‘I just don’t get this girl at all!’”
Hicks (pictured second from right) joined the series at the end of Season Two, as the first long-term character to be embraced within the unit portrayed by Virginia Gay, Melanie Vallejo (Sophie), Melissa Bergland (Jenny) and Zoe Tuckwell-Smith (Bec).
As the fourth season resumes this week, Hicks reflects on the group dynamic that has come to underpin the show.
“There’s this assumed friendship between the four of them but we very rarely have scenes that are one on one,” she explains.
“I have scenes with Jenny and Sophie. Frances and Sam bond over something later in the storyline, which I was really grateful for, because we were going on group outings. I said (to Virginia) ‘Have I even been to your house?’
“It’s very much about the friendship being the strongest thing in their life when everything else falls apart, which I can relate to. My female friends are my backbone, really.
“If we were ‘winning’ all the time it wouldn’t be interesting. There would be no conflict. So they want to see us break, but the girls pick us up, again and again.”
As the country girl who turned out to be a missing link in the Gross family tree, Sam makes her own mark in the gal-pal dynamic.
“They’re very urban but she’s very country, so she’s naïve in a lot of areas where they are more experienced: one night stands, dating, going out to clubs, fashion, she hates shopping,” Hicks insists.
“So it’s a point of difference that she brings.
“She’s also a hopeless liar, so she brings comedy too.”
The Seven series is also vastly different to her role on Nine’s former action drama Rescue: Special Ops.
“Rescue was blokes, down and dirty, rolling through the ocean, pulling bodies around, covered in cuts and scratches everyday, location, location, location! (I was) exhausted!” she recalls.
“You couldn’t slack off, you had to pull your weight and keep going.
“Coming onto Winners and Losers it’s a predominantly female cast with female-skewed storylines. You’re wearing high heels and dresses, you can’t get dirty or wreck your hair. It’s a completely parallel universe.”
In upcoming episodes Sam is encouraged by the Gross family to start dating once more, but first fans will pick up from the 2014 cliffhanger in which she had to perform emergency pocket-knife surgery on brother Luke (Nathin Butler).
“We don’t know if he will survive because he hasn’t had enough oxygen. So Sam’s biggest fear is will he die or will he be brain damaged?” she continues.
So it’s a terrifying time. I personalised it by imagining my sister in the same situation.
Never short on cliffhanger high-stakes, the 2014 finale included a siege and a stable fire, the kind of drama that gets her blood going.
“I was happy to have some action, because of Rescue. I said ‘I’ll run into the building!’ But they said, ‘No you won’t. You’ve gotta hold the kid.’
“Dammit!” she laughs.
“So it’s been relationship drama but then it becomes high stakes for a few episodes. That’s really fun to play as an actor.
“I was allowed to get down and dirty, which is probably why I liked it so much!”
Winners and Losers returns 9:15pm Tuesday on Seven.