Like most actors, Jessica Tovey was rapt when she got the casting call from Nine.
“They said ‘Do you want to work on True Story with Hamish & Andy?’ and I said ‘Fantastic!’”
“Then they said, ‘Second question, are you afraid of snakes?’”
But Tovey replied, “I don’t know. I’ve never played with one before.”
What followed would be a preliminary introduction to a python nearly 3 metres in length in order to recreate “Lisa’s Wake Up Story.”
In the episode which aired last night, Tovey played Lisa who woke up at her boyfriend’s to discover his pet python was attempting to devour her.
Production used three versions of snakes in order to recreate the scene: a real python, an articulated rubber prop and a ‘VFX snake’ for the various shots.
Speaking to TV Tonight on set, Tovey says the real snake behaved pretty well most of the time.
“It’s not quite like a dog or cat that you can get to sit still. It kind of has a mind of its own. So I’ve been throwing it on and hoping it will behave itself,” she said.
“We have a snake handler who keeps throwing her back around me. But she will just do whatever she wants to do. She’s been pretty intimate, coming up to my face and giving me a little lick with her tongue.”
But if the show business rule is to never work with kids & animals then Tovey would soon learn why.
“The director said ‘We’ll just do some close-ups, so just act a little, pant a little.’ Then they said ‘That looks great!’ and I said ‘Yes because it’s actually constricting around my throat!’
“But I never felt worried. There are 15 people standing around ready to get it off me if need be. As long as they got the shot!”
Thankfully no actors nor live pythons were harmed in the making so Tovey remains an intact fan of True Story‘s clever mix of fusing real stories with scripted comedy. She first saw the show whilst travelling on a plane (without snakes).
“Some of them are wacky and extreme but some are really human, where people say ‘I had something similar happen to me,'” she explains.
“I don’t really like reality TV because you can feel it being scripted and forced. But this isn’t. It’s very clear when they are doing the interview that the guys have no idea what’s about to happen. Their reactions are so natural, so it feels like a very honest retelling of story.”
True Story with Hamish & Andy continues 8:40pm Tuesdays on Nine.