When Brooke Satchwell first auditioned for FX-produced drama Mr. Inbetween she recalls entering an airless, windowless room to meet writer / actor Scott Ryan and director Nash Edgerton.
Both were flat from a day of auditioning actors for the role of Ray Shoesmith’s romantic interest, Ally.
Ryan has only ever acted once, in the indie short The Magician, which was the basis for the series and the experienced Satchwell knew how to impress.
“I went out of my way instinctively to make him feel comfortable,” she tells TV Tonight.
“That obviously served, given his workload and his level of exposure to the industry, having someone there as an ally in that capacity really worked. And obviously we ended up having a connection on screen.”
Ally became “Ally.” Satchwell went on to star alongside Ryan in the series which was, remarkably, picked up by FX in the US and won ‘newcomer’ Ryan rave reviews and a Logie as Most Outstanding Actor. During the nearly 15 years between The Magician and Mr Inbetween Ryan had driven cabs, been unemployed and studied writing.
“He was still eligible for Best New Talent!” Satchwell laughs.
“Everyone was so blown away from Season 1”
“Everyone was so blown away from Season 1. They found it so fresh, and again I think that speaks to authenticity and integrity.
“The greatest thing about what Scott writes, and his performance, is that he is absolutely about integrity and authenticity. That’s what makes him so great to work with.
“But what was 15 years for Series 1 effectively became 15 months for Series 2.”
In the second season the hired hitman is facing a midlife crisis. His daughter Brittany (Chika Yasumura) is growing up, there are tensions with his ex-wife, he’s been court ordered to attend anger management classes with a ‘bunch of wife bashers and child beaters,’ and work stress sometimes leads him to need pills to sleep through the night.
Satchwell says it is a darker season due to delving into Ray’s emotional landscape.
“He has a deteriorating brother, his daughter is getting older. His relationship with Ally has become more of a permanent thing, becoming more a part of the fabric and developing relationships in her own right with his daughter, brother and mates,” she explains.
“An intimate relationship is that much more difficult.”
“Previously he was able to navigate those relationships and kind of preserve the boundaries as to who knew what, living parallel worlds. But an intimate relationship is that much more difficult.
“Obviously Ally starts to bring Ray more into her life, and as we go through the series she starts to see more of the behavioural elements and character traits. She makes a personal decision as to how much she will permit in her life -which in turn throws the decision back on Ray as to what decisions he will make for what he wants.”
Indeed, paramedic Ally is unaware her man is leading a double life. But telltale signs will emerge.
“It’s the eternal question.”
“It’s the eternal question. Ally at this stage still understands that Ray works in security. I think if anything it’s more behavioural traits or characteristics she becomes more aware of.
“She’s not aware of his profession at this stage,” she confirms.
“Series 2 throws a few cards into the mix. There is an interviewer who takes quite a fascination in Ray and he agrees to meet with her as a favour. So there are a number of extra people coming into Ray’s life.
“It’s what happens when he tries to live in a ‘normal’ world”
“It’s what happens when he tries to live in a ‘normal’ world and have that life and therefore more people are coming into his sphere and (we see) what pressure that puts on him.”
Cast this season include Damon Herriman, Justin Rosniak, Nicholas Cassim, David Michôd, Matt Nable, Ben Oxenbould, Josh McConville, Rebecca Montalti and Rose Riley.
Yet while Satchwell and Scott Ryan began as strangers, they are now firm friends, with him even house-sitting and pet-sitting while she has has had a busy work year, including Nine’s Seachange revival. She’s still awaiting news of a second season.
“I haven’t heard anything at this stage,” she confirms. “It was fairly recently that we wrapped because it was a very quick turnaround.”
Meanwhile she is also developing her own screen projects as an emerging producing, but declines to detail genres or disciplines. With her extensive contacts and experiences she is bound to reveal more soon.
“It’s lovely that the faith and integrity of relationships I’ve developed over 25 years are blossoming into this stage, because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Mr. Inbetween airs 2pm Friday September 13 and repeated 8pm and Sundays at 8.30pm on FOX Showcase.