Always Greener: articles

Bound for glory

WHILE the beaming faces of Anne Tenney and John Howard may still be gracing billboards around town it is a group of new faces who are about to steal the Always Greener spotlight.

The young cast, most of whom were unknown before landing the gig of a lifetime, have had to step out from the enormous shadows cast by some of Australia's most popular actors.

Even Scott Major, one of the better-known young cast members with series such as Heartbreak High and All Saints under his belt, was in awe at the prospect of working on Always Greener.

"I still remember to this day Anne Tenney's final scene on A Country Practice," Major says.

"I was a bit of a fan of her's and just quietly I had a bit of a crush on her when she was Molly."

Having spent six months on set together the initial nerves have subsided and given way to an atmosphere of fun, particularly amongst the youngsters.

Quite often Daniel Bowden, who plays 16-year-old Jason Taylor, will grab his guitar and rally the cast around for a bit of a sing-along.

Off set, Major lives with Abe Forsythe (16-year-old Campbell Todd).

Just down the road are Michala Banas (18-year-old Marissa Taylor) and her on-screen cousin 15-year-old Philippa Todd, played by Bree Walters.

And, believe it or not, they even hang out on weekends.

Major says it was the vital for the cast to gel from the moment they met.

"We had to be thrown together in a very quick turnaround from the pilot to the series and we had to look like we'd all known each other for years," he says.

To ensure that siblings acted like siblings and cousins acted like cousins, the cast, who were mostly from Melbourne, were put in a situation that would force them to get to know each other.

"When we shot the pilot there were five actors that were brought up from Melbourne to Sydney," Banas says.

"There were no cooking facilities in the rooms where we stayed so we went out for dinner every night. You don't have to be friends with the people you work with, but we are."

It also helps ease the homesickness that comes with leaving family and friends to pursue an acting career.

Bowden's parents and his two sisters live in Inverloch outside Melbourne.

During a week off from filming recently, Bowden went back home for the first time in six months.

"We drove past the CBD and I thought fantastic," he says.

"I missed it so much."

But Bowden won't find it too hard to go back to work.

Playing the lovesick Jason Taylor is still exciting, although chasing country belle Katy Turnbull (Georgie Shew) can be exhausting.

"It's so much hard work," Bowden laughs. "But he'll keep persisting."

Major is also looking forward to upcoming episodes where he is able to explore his normally happy-go-lucky character's dark family life.

"I've been handed a gift in Tom," Major says.

"He's a very likeable and lovable character and I've always got a lot of room to move because he comes from a violent background."

At the other end of the scale is Banas' character Marissa.

The black sheep of her close-knit family she has made it her duty in life to make things miserable for them, only occasionally snapping out of her attitude to have some fun.

"Marissa's the kind of person I used to be at 16 or 17," Banas says.

"She's a little bit rebellious and trying it all. The beauty is I'm five years older than the character and I get to draw on a lot of my own experiences."

Coming from a creative family Banas has been involved in acting from a young age.

Her career has taken her from New Zealand to Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

In 1996 she was nominated for the Best Young Actress Award in the 1996 New Zealand Television Awards for her performance in Mirror Mirror.

She followed this with a string of appearances in series such as Good Guys, Bad Guys, Murder Call, Flipper and most recently as Angela O'Connor in Something in the Air.

She was also involved in the feature film Scooby Doo with Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy fame.

However, Banas says the script for Always Greener was the freshest concept she's come across.

"When I first read the script… I thought wow, this is really different and really quirky and they're trying to do something that hasn't been done before and I really dug that," Banas says.

"When I watched it I went wow, that's above and beyond my expectations."

Her sentiments are shared by the rest of the cast.

"We realised that all of us were in the birth of something really good," Bowden says.

"We're at the start of something quite significant."

The ambitious young cast are also still at the start of their careers.

While they have all had some degree of previous acting experience none of it compares to having Always Greener on the resume.

"The fact is that even though it's a great show it will not last forever," Banas says. "It might last for 20 years but it will not last forever. Especially for people that were unknown in the public eye, you're taking your first steps."

For the least experienced it is certainly a great springboard and even the more experienced can expect to get a lot out of it.

"It makes the springboard bouncier," Major says.

Allison White
November 01, 2001
The Courier Mail