Alison Whyte juggles lockdown & Jack Irish

Just a day after our interview for Jack Irish, Alison Whyte discovered her pub had been classed as a Tier 1 exposure site in Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Whyte and actor husband Fred Whitlock own the Green Man’s Arms in Carlton, one of many the pair have operated whilst juggling showbiz careers.

“It’s a really sweet little pub. After we did the (Abbotsford) Terminus, we went out to the country with a really big pub, The Grand in Yarra Glen. It was a lot of steaks and parmas,” she tells TV Tonight.

“So now we’ve got a little vegetarian pub and it’s very good food. I can definitely vouch for it. I don’t do it, so I can brag about it. They’re really wonderful, dedicated chefs and they’re vegan, so they know what they’re doing.”

Whyte’s performing career is even longer than her publican role, with a cavalcade of stellar production credits including Frontline, SeaChange, Kangaroo Palace, State Coroner, Good Guys Bad Guys, Satisfaction, Tangle, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, The Kettering Incident, Glitch and more recently Fisk on ABC.

Her latest role, in the final season of Jack Irish, is being kept under wraps.

“It’s just been such a long-running, successful show”

“Her name is Nina and I can’t give too much away. But she’s a mistress of one of the regulars. She’s a bit of a mystery woman but all is revealed in Episode 4. It was great fun to play,” she says.

“It’s really nice to be a part of the last Jack Irish. I feel very honoured because it’s just been such a long-running, successful show.”

The seasoned Whyte also recalls an unusual audition process for the part, during 2020.

“It was a zoom audition”

“It was a zoom audition and I went to the casting director’s house. I was in the backyard, there was a reader in the front room and a director on zoom. So there was all this delay. It was hilarious. I left thinking ‘I’ll just gone home and put a self tape down,'” she continues.

“It was the most bizarre audition I’ve ever done.

“As the industry’s evolved over the last 30 years, we do a lot of self-tapes and send them in. This was a zoom call to see if you can be directed, but it’s really hard via zoom because you’ve got delays with other actors, and with the director as well.”

The final season of Jack Irish also sees returning cast Marta Dusseldorp, Roy Billing, Aaron Pedersen, Shane Jacobson, Kate Atkinson, Damien Richardson, Bob Franklin, Jacek Koman, Damien Garvey, Terry Norris and John Flaus with guests Gary Sweet, Genevieve Picot, Matt Testro, Robert Rabiah and Nicole Nabout.

Created by Matt Cameron, Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios, the final season is directed by Greg McLean (The Gloaming, Wolf Creek).

Whyte recalls first working with Guy Pearce in an unexpected casting in a Shakespeare production.

“Guy and I did Midsummer Night’s Dream way back, when I first started. It must have been early ’90s. He was playing Lysander in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney. I was doing Twelfth Night in Melbourne and I got a call saying ‘You’re coming up to play Hermia tonight in Sydney on Opening Night!’ So that’s how Guy Pearce and I met!” she laughs.

“We had some fantastic night shoots in the Melbourne Cemetery”

On returning to work after 2020 lockdown she says, “It was just really great to be on a set with a lot of Melbourne actors that you’ve known for a very long time, after a bizarre year of not having a lot of contact. But because of the nature of the work we do you can work with someone like Matt Cameron or indeed Guy Pearce and reconnect and, in a professional way, sort of pick up where you left off.

“We had some fantastic night shoots in the Melbourne Cemetery in Carlton in the middle of a beautiful, balmy summer evening with bats flying over. It was pretty magical actually.”

Four episodes begin on ABC this Sunday with Whyte’s character to be fully realised in the final episode.

“You’ve got to really watch it carefully, because it’s got so many twists and turns. But, it does all make sense in the end.”

Green Man’s Arms vegetarian pub in Carlton.

Sunday 13 June, 8.30pm on ABC.

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