All Saints: articles

Libby Tanner—TV's Brightest New Star

As feisty paramedic Bronwyn Craig, Libby Tanner has certainly made a big impact on fans of All Saints. Watching her each week on the show, it's not hard to see why—Bron is smart and funny, she acts tough but her vulnerability still shows. She's earth and real, but still manages to get herself into all sorts of trouble. In other words, she's human. But that's probably not the only reason All Saints fans like her—just the top of a long list.

We caught up with Libby recently and found that she's even easier to like than Bron… and a lot funnier! She's very friendly and approachable, bright and passionate—and if anyone deserves to win an audience's affection, it's her.

Libby Tanner

Do you still dance? Do you miss it?
Do I miss it? No I don't. I boogie around at home and get it out of my system, but it's something I would like to do again for sure.

You have sung…
Yes I did record a CD number with a couple of drag queens. It was hysterical, because I arrived in Sydney—and I had never been here before—and I found myself at The Albury [Hotel] on the stage, dressed up in gold and glitter, and it was the most incredible crowd—the most amazing, supportive group. They were fantastic.

That's quite a baptism.
Yeah, I know! What the hell is going on? Sydney is such a rushy place coming from Melbourne. It's like 'Everybody, slow down!'. I just felt like a little girl at a fun park. I kept going, 'Wow… wow!'

Well, as a Melbournian, what is Sydney like for you?
It took me six months to chill out and sort of hang onto my head. It's a bit scary at first, to be quite honest. I didn't know anybody here, I didn't have any friends. You just become such close friends with the cast because we work together, you know, 12 hours a day, so they have become my family, I think.

It's very interesting to talk to other people in Seven shows who have moved to take up their jobs. Everyone else thinks that you have this glamorous life, where it's all fun. But you literally arrive in the city, you don't know anyone, and you are about to start a new job. Is that overwhelming?
Yes, it is. Well, I am human. Anyone in that situation, you just have to keep breathing and you will get through it. I am still overwhelmed all the time, talking about this TV Week thing I did, and that was just like 'Whoa!'.

Libby Tanner is hot! [This was the headline for Libby's cover story for TV Week.]
I know, I'm like, 'What's going on here?'. Finding myself in the local supermarket and people are looking at me and you think, 'This is too much, I have had enough'—and so I look down and there it is! You're looking at yourself. It's like there's nowhere to hide! No, it's just a matter of getting used to it. It really doesn't freak me out that much, because that level where people… that is sort of everywhere, that exposure, and I have never felt that before and it's quite frightening.

You have been in some high-profile shows before, but not to this extent… What was it like working on Frontline?
Well, Frontline was so quick, I was in and out. I played a druggie setting up a doctor who was willy-nilly handing out pills and so forth. And I walked in and I had long, dark hair at the time and Rob Sitch [star and writer/director] took one look at me and said, 'She doesn't need any make-up—leave her as she is'. [laughs] But it was really cool. They had these tiny little Betacam cameras and it was just like doing a student film. They said, 'Oh, let's just run out here', and I thought we were going into a big studio to shoot our scene and I thought, 'Wow, what's through this door?'… And we went through the door and it's the back of a car park, sat in somebody's car. 'Is this your car? Can we use it? Alright, shoot it, thanks very much, see you later'. But… a good group. Good group of people and you can see why they [Working Dog productions, who also made the hit film The Castle] have done so well, because they just want to make a good product. And because they are such a tight group of friends, they are working for the same thing—there are no politics.

When you see All Saints on screen, it looks like a cohesive group operating. And there is that sense among the cast that you are all working together.
Oh yeah, absolutely. It's a cliche, everybody says 'We are family', but we really are. You walk into the make-up room and everyone is sort of 'Good morning', pat on the back, cuddle, kiss. It's like 'Give me the spark plugs and then I am ready for the camera!' They are very supportive in times when people go up and down—as you do in life. And they say, 'Hey are you right?', and I am, like, 'Yeah…'

Bron seems to be getting some juicy storylines… It's been fantastic. They have started to write some amazing stuff for Bron and taking her away from the ward, and giving me some ambo stuff is giving me my own ground in that sense. And I am very lucky to have those good stories written for me.

Do storylines on the show affect you, because there are some pretty heavy-duty things that go on in the show. When Samantha's [played by Justine Clarke] mother died…
Oh wasn't that amazing?

It's teary, so do you get home and sort of take it home with you?
It does depend on what you are doing. I remember working with Michael Caton [host of Hot Property], and [his character] died and it really affects Bron's character. And I thought, 'Crikey, where am I going to pull this from to feel this?' So it affects you in the way that you have to feel it, otherwise it's not going to ring true. And you can't say that 'oh I have seen a murder or I have seen a car accident', so you have to put yourself in a strange upset state. You do turn yourself around. Your energy levels can become a bit out of whack in that sense, so you have to keep bringing yourself back to centre.

Do you prefer playing paramedic Bron or nurse Bron?
Paramedic Bron.

More action?
Yeah, more action. They keep bringing me in as an agency nurse. I would rather be a nurse or be an ambo, but they shoot to link me into the ward all the time.

You must do a lot of location shooting.
It's great because you're outside and there is fresh air. It's really hard working in the studio, it's really hot and clammy and there is not much oxygen, so you are always jumping up and down on the spot going 'Hello! Wake up!' then 'Action' and you have to walk into the scene with a bit of energy. And it's hard—you look around at the crew and everyone is droopy-eyed after a while…

And Bron is such a high-energy character that you really need to maintain it.
Yeah, and I sit back sometimes and I look at the words and I think, 'Do I keep on going with this for no reason?' and it is in the writing. She comes in with these jokes all the time, so she has to be high—and I have to be on the ball. [laughs] So it's exhausting, sometimes it's like, 'I don't want to do it tonight! Bron—stop doing it, Bron, you are really annoying!'.

Did you immediately like her as a character? Because it's really hard to imagine another actress playing her. You really fit her.
Well, they do end up writing it towards who you are. I used to think, 'Great, she is totally different from me', and all actors will say 'my character is nothing like I am'. But after 12 hours a day, you are drawing on your energy to do it—they have to be like you. And, of course, they are not you—you are not in that costume, you are not in that situation, they are not your friend… but it's just the time factor too. You are on set and from your experience and perception of the world, you just [focus] and do the scene. So your head, your heart, your feelings go 'There you go, that's how you are going to get it'. So after six months of that, they tend to write for the way you do that. So essentially it's your energy.

Do the writers collaborate with the actors to a certain degree?
Not really. They are very open to ideas and they like it if we come up and chat to them. But they come down and say, 'Here is where we want to take the character in the next 10 weeks', and they can see if we get excited and then we talk there.

As an actor are you there to tell a story or to explain the character?
Communicate. Just communicate. Just tell the story. That's it! You answered your own question!

What can we expect from Bron in the future? What would you like to see?
Not any one particular thing, because we shoot so much every week and so much is going on. There is no time to think. All the things they have laid out for her so far have so many avenues to explore, but I guess just following up what she has put out. Like the gambling thing, follow that up see where that takes her. With this Luke thing—are they going to get together? And what does that relationship mean? Does it mean she is frightened to have relationships with men, because she is quite ballsy… she is not a very intimate…

She is a bit of a tomboy, but you get the sense of vulnerability there.
Following that up would be good. There are all these leads they have set—but there is no room yet! I don't want her to go bungee jumping!

What do you like to do when you are not on the set?
I love being at home. I have this fantastic house which I share with Erik [Thomson], which is great—and his fiancee. We are all great mates and it's big enough to get away from each other. And just sitting there—it's got a big backyard and a lot of gum trees—and it's quiet. Doing some gardening there and… What do I do? [laughs] I see lots of films and I am starting to write a lot now, which has helped with the radio in the head. And reading, I have never been a reader in my life so I am starting to pick up things now. See some theatre, play a little guitar…


Favourite films
I saw Celebrity the other day and it just cracked me up, and I saw it with a bunch of celebs so it was like 'Check this out!'. And there were these shots of all these celebrities watching themselves on screen and then there is all of us watching this celebrity thing. It was just a big mirror of our industry. And right at the end it goes 'Help' and I just went 'Yeah! This is great! We are all mad and it says so. We can't get out of it'. What else have I seen? Praise—that was pretty out there…

Favourite books
Wild Succulent Women. I have just read it and it is the most gorgeous thing. It's very funny and very enlightening—it helps you do anything. Any books that help you laugh at life and any situation you get into are worth reading. I've just read Cave in the Snow, about a woman who lived in a cave for 12 years, and she is the western woman's Buddhist. That was fascinating, it was really good. She had this amazing calmness…

Favourite music
Ani Di Franco—I keep buying her, she is just wonderful. She's ballsy and she is a very intelligent, sexy woman. I think she is great. That Eagle Eye Cherry has got me clicking my fingers! I can't stop. Ben Harper.

So you like music with a bit of soul and passion behind it?
A bit of soul, a bit of guitar work. Dave Dobbin is another good one.

Favourite actors
I really do like Ben Mendelsohn. I think he jumps off the cliff. He really šies, I like watching his work. He is fearless, and I love that sense—he's fearless but he is fragile too. To have that scope in every character that he does is my aim in everything that I want to be able to do. Frances O'Connor is another one. She is beautiful—seeing that scene in Thank God He Met Lizzie, when they have that dinner party scene, and they have that fight… I have got to see that film again just to see that scene. I think she is just beautiful.

Favourite people
My friends.

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