Canal Road: articles

Brooke Satchwell has been through a rocky patch to Canal Road

BROOKE Satchwell is about to embark on a TV relaunch, this time in medical drama Canal Road, but her latest role has coincided with a turbulent period in her personal life.

What should have been an exciting time for Satchwell — experiencing a career renaissance after a long stretch without acting work — instead became a nightmare because of her well-publicised split with fellow actor Matthew Newton.

As details of the couple’s break-up made headlines across the country, photographers began staking out Canal Road’s Banana Alley set, turning the ensemble drama into a media circus starring Satchwell.

The 27-year-old, who has always struggled to feel comfortable in the spotlight, says the only way she was able to deal with the sudden and intrusive attention was to ignore it and focus on work.

“I am fortunate to have a supportive group of family and friends,” she says of the difficult period.

“I am so grateful to the casting agents for even giving me the role in the first place because I’d done two rotten auditions.

“Luckily, they had seen some of my other work and gave me the part anyway. I just hope I was able to do it justice.”

Satchwell says the whole ordeal was also made easier by the support and understanding offered to her by the rest of the cast, which includes Satisfaction’s Diana Glenn, The Secret Life of Us’s Sibylla Budd and Blue Heelers’ Grant Bowler.

“They proved themselves to be an incredibly generous group of people to work with,” she says.

“It (the attention on Satchwell) was never an issue. They were so supportive and have now become very close friends.”

Though Satchwell reported Newton to police in October 2006, the incident did not become public until last year when she was filming Canal Road.

Newton pleaded guilty to the assault against Satchwell but the charges were quashed on appeal.

Despite the potentially painful memories associated with filming Canal Road, Satchwell is looking forward to watching the 13-part series.

“I won’t think about any of that,” she says of the media attention during filming. “I’ll just be looking at it for my own performance.”

Satchwell has moved on since the dramatic events and doesn’t have anything to add about Newton or their relationship.

But she has said, in a written statement, that she bears her former boyfriend no malice and wishes him every happiness and success.

“I don’t really like to talk about that (her split with Newton) because it affects so many people,” she says. “People have been incredibly respectful and compassionate.

“My belief is there is no point in looking backwards anyway. I prefer to be focused on moving forward.”

Satchwell says she is in no rush to find romance again.

She scotched rumours she has a new boyfriend, saying she is happily single and living with her mother in Mornington.

“There are no new boyfriends, 2008 is going to be the year of career,” she says. “I am hopeful that by June we will know whether Canal Road will go to a second series and I have a few other things on the horizon.”

Satchwell is genuinely excited and optimistic about her acting prospects now the Australian entertainment industry has begun “going through a bit of a purple patch”.

She has started on her first movie, Subdivision, co-starring Gary Sweet.

“It’s only taken 12 years but it’s finally happened — my first film,” she says. “It’s funny but the day I found out I got my first film, I also got my first real job. And I have not let it go.”

The ever-practical Satchwell says she will continue to work as an office assistant and event planner between acting jobs so she will have something solid to fall back on if acting work dries up again.

Satchwell, who rose to fame at 15 when she won a role on Neighbours alongside Jesse Spencer, had to resort to selling clothes for a family friend when she couldn’t find enough work as an actor.

“I was pretty fortunate having fallen into acting at 15 with no experience whatsoever and I worked steadily for eight years,” she says.

“But in 2004 things got pretty lean and I found myself selling clothes and making cold calls.”

Despite the shortage of work, she never considered leaving in search of jobs overseas like her Neighbours’ co-star Spencer (who now stars in House) and some of their contemporaries such as Radha Mitchell (Finding Neverland) and Daniel MacPherson (City Homicide).

Satchwell says she has always been determined to remain in Australia so she can stay close to friends and family.

“In this business it’s hard enough to be there for birthdays, weddings and other important events. To move to America would make it impossible,” she says.

“Australia is my home. I do not see the need to go anywhere else.

“Fame and fortune have never appealed to me. Maybe I am not ambitious enough, I don’t know.”

After White Collar Blue wrapped production in 2003, roles were few and far between for Satchwell.

She worked in theatre and took small supporting roles in series such as Tripping Over and Small Claims before scoring a starring role (and the favourite of her career so far) in the Foxtel series Dangerous.

As with her bit part in Small Claims, where she played a mini-skirted party girl, Dangerous — the series about Sydney’s ram-raid subculture — took Satchwell out of her comfort zone.

“I was really lucky to get Dangerous and Small Claims — even though it was a small part — because there was so much fierce competition for jobs,” she says.

“Dangerous was brilliant. I’d never done anything like that before. It was brilliant for breaking down my barriers.”

Satchwell says both roles bolstered her confidence in her abilities as an actor, but she says she still feels terribly uncomfortable in front of camera.

“Whenever a camera is on me I freeze,” she says. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s film or a still camera.

“It’s my own cross to bear but I am working through it.”

Siobhan Duck
April 09, 2008
Herald Sun