THE LOWDOWNUNDER – It’s the last day of shooting on Melbourne-based director Tony Ayres’ taut crime drama Cut Snake and there’s a crackle of electricity on set as the cast and crew of around 80 folks ready themselves to say goodbye.
It’s been a full-on six weeks of 12-hour shooting days, but Sullivan Stapleton, the upcoming star of 300: Rise of an Empire perhaps best known for his disturbing turn as the aggressive Craig Cody in David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom, is in a playful mood as he sits in the passenger seat of a ‘70s car parked in front of a green screen in a South Melbourne studio.
A big guy rotates a strip light on a helicopter stand to recreate streetlights passing overhead, while another crewmember sprays the dashboard with some magic solution to dull the reflection.
As Ayres leans in to direct Stapleton and his co-stars Jessica De Gouw (These Final Hours, Arrow, Dracula) and Alex Russell (Carrie), Stapleton lunges in and chomps on his elbow, prompting uproarious laughter that breaks the spell of what has been a tense scene.Continue Reading
FEMALE FIRST – Jessica De Gouw has starred in the recent hit series Dracula in two separate parts, and we got the chance to chat to the rising star about her role on the show, chemistry with other cast members including Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and just what drew her to taking part in the series.
For those who haven’t yet seen Dracula, can you tell us a little bit about it and the characters you play?
Dracula is the re imagining of Bram Stoker’s classic tale by NBC and Carnival. Set in Victorian London, the series follows many of the original characters, but in this version we had ten hours of television to tell a much more detailed story, and to really explore the complex relationships, old and new.
I play Mina Murray, and Ilona, Dracula’s great love from centuries before, who we see in flashbacks.
What is it about the show that drew you to take part?
When I heard that Dracula was being made into a series by NBC and Carnival, I couldn’t resist. I knew they would do something interesting with it. A period drama with a supernatural twist, seemed like a whole lot of fun.
Did you feel pressure being part of something based on such an iconic story?
I never really felt the pressure of playing an pre-existing character, because I knew i would make it my own, and an audience would either like it or not. My job is to make a choice and commit to it, that’s all I can do.
I knew the show had to offer something different in order to find an audience, but I always knew it was in safe hands.
DIY – Everyone’s favourite classic vampire Dracula has once again been given the remake treatment, this time under the gloriously suave and sinister hands of King Henry himself, Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Featuring a number of recognisable faces such as Nonso Anozie from Game of Thrones, and Katie McGrath from Merlin, Dracula manages to bring exactly what you would hope for – part sexy, part scary, but always entertaining.
We had the chance to catch up with Dracula’s leading lady Jessica De Gouw and learn about her origins as an actress in Australia, the differences in now working in America, and just how exciting it is working with a talent like Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
After being so successful in the beginning of your career in Australia, what influenced the move to LA?
It seemed like the right decision for my career. Australia is a lot smaller than the US and UK industries, so I had to leave and create my own opportunities. It was more about being someone that people recognise and getting more work from there. In fact I’ve just wrapped a film in Melbourne with a director I’ve always wanted to work with, so it’s definitely working so far.
What was it like getting a role in a hit TV show almost immediately?
Well I did the traditional pilot season in the US which is pretty intense. You do a load of auditions and then maybe something will come from one of them. I then went home and did a film, then eventually did call backs and jetted off to Vancouver and got very very lucky. It’s not always that easy!
Were you a fan of comic books before getting your role in Arrow? Did u feel any pressure taking on The Huntress?
Oh well there’s obviously that awareness of comics and DC Comics but no, I had to do a lot of learning. The audition was actually a simple script for a role, and I had no idea of the importance of the character. They were quite secretive about it really, not giving it away. As soon as the part was mine, I got a package of DC comics and started learning quickly!
Jessica De Gouw has no permanent home but that’s hardly a sign of an actor who’s out of work.
In July last year De Gouw moved to Los Angeles and quickly landed a recurring role in Arrow, the US TV series based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, shot in Vancouver.
She then spent seven months in Budapest working on Dracula, NBC’s series that stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the title character, who poses as an American entrepreneur while he seeks revenge on those who cursed him.
In between those series she flew to Perth to play a supporting role in Apocalyptic thriller These Final Hours, the debut feature from writer-director Zak Hilditch. Now she is in country Victoria shooting Matchbox Pictures’ crime thriller Cut Snake, opposite Sullivan Stapleton and Alex Russell.
“I am a gypsy. I have no base; my life fits into two suitcases,” Jessica tells IF during a break in shooting. “One day I hope Sydney will be home again.”
The actor has worked virtually non-stop since she graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts (Communication and Cultural Studies – Performance Studies) from Curtin University in Perth. Her credits include Kath & Kimderella, Underbelly Razor, Crownies, Tricky Business and The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.
Here’s an out there concept that may take a while to absorb, so brew a pot of tea and prepare to have your mind blown. This new Sky Living drama, Dracula (Thursday 31 October, 9pm), concerns something called a ‘vampire’ who moves to London and… What’s that? You’ve heard this all before?
Not according to Jonathan Rhys Meyers, you haven’t. In this new interpretation of Bram Stoker’s novel Jonathan plays three different characters – Vlad Tepes, American industrialist Alexander Grayson, and Dracula – as he circles London’s high society in search of vengeance on those who murdered his wife. Somewhat annoyingly for Vlad/Alexander/Dracula he encounters Mina Murray (Jessica de Gouw), who is a dead ringer for his long-dead wife. Furthermore, she already has a squeeze in the shape of Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), now a journalist rather than a lawyer.
We spoke to Jonathan and Jessica about why this version is distinct from others and why you won’t fancy this Dracula. There’s some advice on love, too.
The story of Dracula is one that hasn’t been told much…
Jessica: This version of the Dracula story is very different to any I’ve seen before. By name we’re the same characters but their characteristics, personalities and careers are so different. Here, Mina Murray is a medical student and she’s a modern woman in a man’s world. A lot of the characters are new.
Jessica De Gouw gained her first wide exposure to American TV viewers last season with a recurring part on “Arrow” as The Huntress. Her profile is about to get higher.
The 25-year-old Australian actress stars on NBC’s “Dracula” — which premieres at 10 p.m. ET Friday (Oct. 25) — as Mina Murray, a young woman in 19th century London who the title character (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) believes may be the reincarnation of his long-dead wife. Her startling resemblance to his lost love throws a wrench in his plans to exact vengeance on the people who cursed him.
De Gouw’s captivating performance as Mina makes her one of Zap2it’s Ones to Watch for 2013-14. Get to know her a little better with our questionnaire:
What’s the current home-screen picture on your phone?
A pic of the “Dracula” cast being wildly inappropriate.
What are your can’t-miss TV shows?
[Co-star] Katie McGrath got me hooked on the “Great British Bake Off.” It’s ruining my life.
What’s a song that always makes you happy when you hear it?
“No Diggity” by Blackstreet
What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?
I have about 4 albums of Disney songs, but the embarrassing part is that I know each song word for word, and have dances choreographed for most.
Zombie apocalypse or alien invasion?
Alien invasion! I actually have a very real, irrational fear of zombies.
Do you have any current pop-culture obsessions?
I am still desperate to do a Harlem Shake. I know that’s kinda over, but I just think I need to do it. Oliver Jackson-Cohen and I tried over and over to convince the producers of “Dracula” to let us do one on set in full period costume. It’s a work in progress.