The trauma of keeping Wentworth real

Former Wentworth cast reflect on the dilemma of feeling realistic, intense scenes while keeping it together personally.

Acting may be a world of make believe but in order to keep scenes real how do performers balance what the body is experiencing versus what the brain is feeling?

Former Wentworth star Nicole da Silva, who played Franky Doyle, recalls doing “wild, dark things” in Season 2 and how she had to take steps to sustain it.

“I was coming to work every day, doing these hideous things to people I loved. The temperature on set would change: we’d get on, we’d be all bouyant, we’d just had breakfast together. And then all of a sudden, I was getting Boomer to put a snooker ball in a sock to beat someone up into a bloody mess,” she said.

“After a while, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can keep doing this.’ Because my body doesn’t know the difference. I tell my brain that it’s real, in order for it to be real. So finding that line between reality and fiction became a little tricky.

“I do remember going into the writers office, at some point, saying, ‘I need a through-line here. I need to know where this is going.’ I think at that time, we weren’t getting big, bold arcs of where we were going. That was something after a few seasons, they would (later) offer up.

“So I remember going into the office and just going, ‘I need to know where this is going for Franky. Because if we’re saying that she is a sociopath, and that’s where you want her to go, that’s fine. I can do that. But I need to know that there’s that disconnect there between what she’s doing and what she’s feeling. Because otherwise, I’m a mess!'”

Pamela Rabe, who wowed fans with intense scenes for Joan Ferguson, also revealed her way of decompressing after an intense day of shooting.

“A glass of wine,” she said. “And sitting down to learn your lines for the next day, because things work at a pretty fast pace. Tammy McIntosh said she saw me having a little cry or something, but I have no memory of that at all. , I simply remember wanting to be just a little quiet. … there was so much going on.

Bernard Curry, who played Prison Officer Jake recalled, “There was always being a great sense of community, people asking ‘Are you ok?’ or just having a hug and just letting it be. But also just kind of, letting it go, and then start goofing off again.”

“I’ve just noticed in the last few years, from the jobs I’ve done subsequently, the environment is very different,” Rabe suggested.

“I think it’s fabulous that we have intimacy coordinators, producers and people taking a lot of care to make sure that everyone is supported, who might be feeling anxious, stressed or confronted or traumatised by material or they’re working on.”

“Early on in the show’s history,” Kate Atkinson (Vera Bennett) suggested, “I don’t think there weren’t that many structures, there was a little bit of -on any show- the kind of ethos of ‘You’re a professional actor. Do what you do, move on. do the next bit.’

“I remember the siege sequence, and that was the first time I thought, ‘Oh my god. The actors who have been playing the inmates – which I had not- had to deal with this for the last seven years!’ I’d never done something like that. So I think it grew and I think we all realised that this was something we were sustaining year in year out. Some people were not based in Melbourne, so they’re away from their families So it actually grew and we got better at it.”

2 Responses

  1. Every department from the actors to the writers, set designers and beyond consistently delivered on every darn episode. I’ve recently finished my third full run through of the entire season and it’s still so powerful. I do hope a spin-off isn’t far off because the world they created has so many more stories to tell.

  2. Wentworth and A Place To Call Home such great shows of the last decade. Surely spin-offs in the next few years or something that tells such a good story. Haven’t had Foxtel since both came to their conclusion.

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