Melissa George may have started on Aussie soap Home and Away, but she's quickly making a name for herself on the much bigger stage with standout roles in critically acclaimed movie Triangle, and most recently taking the lead in the BBC's latest action drama Hunted.
Hunted may have come to an early end, but with news that a Sam Hunter spin-off show is in the pipeline, fans of the spy drama are sure to see Melissa George kicking various posteriors in the future.
With the show coming out on Blu-ray and DVD next week, the Australian actress took some time out to answer questions on the show, moving to London and her favourite moments of her career so far.
A lot of people have compared Hunted to Spooks, but what are your thoughts?
I’ve seen the first five, and although it is hard to watch yourself in general, I love the complexity, and I love where it is going. But what I was really blown away by is how great the locations looked. When we start, she is in Morocco – so you have the colours, the smells, you can just feel the location, which I loved. And how exciting the production is. Sometimes you sit back and go wow – when you mix the English and the American, look what you get!
What does it bring to the project, filming in the all these different landscapes?
From Tangiers to Scotland – I mean, you get the golden colours and can almost smell the spices. It comes off the screen, such a vivid palette. Scotland is all beautiful and green then in London it is blues and greys. It is so beautiful, and you feel the grittiness of being in a very famous European city, but we shot London like you have never seen it before. It was a lot of fun – it reminded me a lot of the movie Taken, which I love.
Hunted's got real grand ambitions though, and it shows up on screen.
I’m really happy to hear that. Because if I was going to leave NY and work abroad and on television, you want the kind of quality work you are used to, which is film, and the kind of writing I am used to and you want to mesh all the beautiful relationships and styles of films you want to work in into one piece, and I feel like I got that with Hunted.
Sam's not just a machine though; she's got a softer side. Was that something that you liked about her?
What I loved about Sam is that I like complex women. I also love that she can be soft, but do not mess with her! And you will see that she is able to switch it on and off very quickly. She can be lethal, damaging, all sorts of things. I love to see that changing from one scene to the next, it is what I love doing.
Sometimes words get in the way of a good story – in this case, the camera is photographing thoughts, and you see everything she feels, and I love that. There is plenty of time for dialogue. You see the story of a woman who carries a lot of pain from her childhood, after seeing her mother killed in front of her, to a hit on her own life when she was pregnant.
The life of a spy is difficult, but then she goes away and comes back strong. She could have stayed away but she is not going to make the same mistakes, and I loved that.
I think so. She is very troubled, doesn’t sleep in a bed, there are a lot of things that aren’t quite right. But then she is incredibly smooth at the spying, espionage, bad ass, sexy, kicking the ass of the Moroccan guys.
I love that stuff – just because I don’t wear make-up doesn’t mean I can’t be sexy! When it is written right, and they teach you streetfighting techniques and then you see a girl in a dress doing it? I love that, I love watching that. I would definitely watch this, I love it.
How intense was the stuff in Scotland?
It was endurance and running, but luckily it was at the beginning of the production so I came off all this core training in NY. If it was towards the end, I would probably fallen to pieces. I was in a slow decline throughout the filming of the show, it got harder and harder to keep going, But it is great, because so does Sam’s journey.
Was this the most you have pushed yourself?
That and a film called Triangle, which was hard because I was playing five different versions of myself! That was very exciting but very hard. Each job brings challenges, but this one was the character work, the emotional journey was just as challenging as the physical work – I hadn’t done them both together in a long time.
Are you pleased with the reaction to The Slap? Are you only interested in doing the good stuff?
I want to do the good stuff. Sometimes I want to do different stuff. Obviously, it would be nice to be in the number one film, but the most rewarding thing about Hunted, The Slap, In Treatment, the ones you really fought to get. It is interesting, the ones I am offered I am usually less impressed by – but the ones I busted my ass to get are the ones I don’t want to mess up. If you want the role, now you have to make it great.
You don't get the great outfits in either The Slap and Hunted though do you?
No! Whenever they offer me my wardrobe at the end of the job, I’m always like, "No thank you, you can keep it!" Why do I pick all these non vain crazy roles? I love clothes!
What was it like upping sticks to being in London for seven months?
I moved to Chelsea with my French bulldog, called Glee. I was living in the most gorgeous house, I fell in love with a gorgeous French man – my life changed. I love London, it has such great memories.
Do you feel that the journey for Sam is only just getting started?
For me the painful bit of being an actor is that you start a journey and fall in love with a character, but then it is ended. It is gone. Why don’t we keep on rolling! When you love a character, you just want to be them. When I was playing Rosie in The Slap, I was her all weekend, every night. I wanted to be her, and when it ended it was like I had to get therapy because I was having to go back to Melissa.
It was the same when we finished filming Hunted. For me, I’m just on vacation from being Sam.
Would you be up for reprising the role?
Bring it on, I’m waiting and biding my time until I’m Sam again!
Apart from Sam, what have been your favourite roles so far?
In Treatment was such an incredible well written show, two people sharing experiences in therapy. It made me fall in love with acting all over again.
Also, The Slap because I really jumped out of my comfort zone and took risks.
I loved Amityville Horror, playing the nanny in Friends, Mulholland Drive and working with David Lynch, being nominated for a Golden Globe, even though I didn’t win, was the best day of my life.
I really want to kick start my career. It is starting now, I don’t want to mess around anymore. I want better and better roles. I was happy and fulfilled for about a year after the Slap. My creative tank is full.
So, finishing off, what are you up to right now?
I’m kicking back, living in Paris, working on the character called Melissa, which I haven’t done in a long time. And she is very fascinating, I have to say. She is really nice, very kind and incredibly resilient, and she likes to jog to the Louvre and back.
I’ve been in Corsica for a month with my boyfriend, which was lovely as I haven’t taken a vacation like that since I was about 15 years old.
And so I am really enjoying my life, I have a couple of films on offer and I’m waiting for that skin tingling feeling and I will know it is the one to do. A couple of those, see if I can squeeze it in. I needed time to cast off Sam, and I have been having the time of my life since.
Manhattan is so incredible, it is my home, everyone who leaves NY wants to be back there. But I think I will be back in NY soon. I miss America, yeah. But London is great! It's a joke, I have to pinch myself how lucky I was to film here.
Hunted is available on Blu-ray and DVD from 26thNovember, Entertainment One