11th hour for Halifax role

Seasoned star Claudia Karvan freely admits she was not the first choice for her role on Halifax: Retribution and was a late addition to the cast.

“I got involved at the 11th hour. It was out on offer to another actor, and I know who she is too,” she tells TV Tonight.

“When they told me I was like, ‘Okay, cool, I’ll just play it like her!’

“I’m so thick skinned now, I don’t really care about that sort of stuff!

“I was traveling around Chile at the time with my son and friends – in a ski field actually. I looked at the scripts saw the team. I love Peter Salmon, Matt Joffe, Fiona Banks and Dan Nettheim, they’re all fabulous directors. I love Rebecca Gibney, we’re good friends. She’s fabulous to work with.”

Both had worked together on 10 telemovie franchise Small Claims (2004 – 2006) and Karvan was keen to reunite on another project.

“An irresponsible mother -great!”

“I read the character description: an irresponsible mother -great! I’m always playing reasonable, likeable characters … people that make some sense. So this is exciting.”

In the new Nine drama she plays Mandy Petras, the biological mother of Zoe (Mavournee Hazel), stepdaughter to Jane Halifax (Rebecca Gibney).

Karvan reveals the character is so free spirited that no two scenes are the same.

“She’s completely mercurial, which is a fabulous license to be given as a performer. It’s almost like each scene you play she’s a different character. One scene with Jane, she’s just angling always for higher status. The next scene with Jane, she’s playing lower status. Next scene she’s Jane’s best friend and they’re equals. It’s just a delight to be able to play.

“I can honestly say, best costumes ever!”

“As background development she’s probably narcissistic personality disorder. She’s incredibly self-absorbed. Everything’s about her sexuality, about her existing in that moment. She’s fantastically irresponsible, hedonistic, charismatic. She’s led a fascinating life, enigmatic. Best costumes I’ve ever had in my career, and I’ve had a very long career. I can honestly say, best costumes ever!


“When I arrived for my fitting, I put on all the clothes and thought. ‘Oh! I don’t need to act!’ I’ve got pink tapestry high heeled suede boots, this kind of skanky hippie, weird boots with green snake-skin jeans, with a kind of cowboy belt with an s&m leather whips scenario going on. Then a lacy white top and a red rabbit skin jacket.”

But the series is also a mystery, and Karvan keeps her cards close to her chest as to Mandy’s series arc.

“She walked away from Zoe at a young age. She’s been having ongoing, convenient affair with Zoey’s father, Jane’s husband,” she continues.

“But we don’t know why she is hanging around, basically. There’s some sort of mystery around that….”

Halifax: Retribution airs 8:40pm Tuesdays on Nine.


  1. I haven’t started watching Halifax Retribution yet, I didn’t see the original, but I am happy to support Aussie dramas and I look forward to seeing her character portrayal.

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