Pleasant surprise in thriller casting

Jessica de Gouw had no idea that after a day at Disneyland with Laura Carmichael, both would play adversaries on 10 drama.

Little did Jessica de Gouw know when she was cast in 10’s psychological thriller The Secrets She Keeps that she would be starring opposite Laura Carmichael.

She had already come to know the former Downton Abbey actress after spending a day together at Disneyland.

“We were both in LA and had friends in common. I was delighted when I found out it was Laura. I got to show her my Sydney, a place that I’ve lived throughout the years, and introduce her to my friends,” she tells TV Tonight.

“The times that we did get to shoot together were wonderful”

“Most of the time you see her story or my story, so at the time we were sort of tapping in and tapping out. But the times that we did get to shoot together were wonderful.”

de Gouw plays blogger and “perfect” mother Meghan, married to sports presenter Jack (Michael Dorman), and befriended by supermarket shelf-stacker and expectant mother Agatha (Laura Carmichael).

The six part series, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Australian author Michael Robotham, was filmed in northern Sydney and Dulwich Hill last year. Both female characters are pregnant and due only days apart -until everyone’s lives are changed by a shocking act. But there are also multiple secrets afoot…

“Outwardly it looks to be picture perfect”

“Meghan is seemingly happily and middle-class, but obviously the title gives away, she -as well as everyone else- has a lot of secrets. Outwardly it looks to be picture perfect, and that’s what she presents in her social media,” she explains.

“But you quickly learn that what you see is not the truth. This presentation online is very cultivated and calculated. She’s got a lot going on under the surface.

“And Agatha’s story is in stark contrast to that world.”

de Gouw, whose credits include Deadline Gallipoli, Underground, The Crown, and The Hunting, was hooked on the project from reading first script.

“From that moment I was begging to do it. I just thought it was such an incredible piece. I hadn’t heard of the book at that point so I had to go back and do my homework. But it was really exciting and so enticing to have this very female series,” she continues.

“I certainly worked very hard to understand Meghan”

Yet while she is not yet a mother herself, she credits her directors and cast for helping her find Meghan’s motivation.

“My experience is not as a mother but I certainly worked very hard to understand Meghan, and understand what she goes through.

“I had incredible directors who were excellent guides and facilitators, and when you have an incredible actor standing opposite, offering you everything because they’re so generous, it just makes my job so easy.

“You look at the script and you look at the scenes and do the work, and I think if you can respond honestly to a scene and a moment, that’s where you have to work from.”

de Gouw is currently based in London where her most recent project was disrupted by the global shutdown. She’s already had pals respond to the miniseries after 10 Play dropped it unannounced over Easter.

“I’ve had friends texting me and sending messages over the weekend saying that they went to watch one episode and they accidentally watched all six.”

The Secrets She Keeps begins 8:45pm tonight on 10.

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