Dangerous: articles

Brooke Satchwell and Khan Chittenden

Gritty ... Brooke Satchwell and Khan Chittenden in Dangerous / Foxtel

Dangerous liaisons

BROOKE Satchwell remembers the moment her acting career wasn't being led along by "fate" anymore.

The Melbourne star had just finished a four-year stint as Anne Wilkinson on Australian soap Neighbours, a role that won her a Logie Award and made her a household name, and found herself at a crossroads.

Next stop was the crime drama White Collar Blue before her toughest role yet - unemployment.

"I had my first period of unemployment and I became an official actor," said the 26-year-old from the set of her latest project, the pay television drama series Dangerous.

"It was the first time in eight years (I had been unemployed). Having had my first period of unemployment I had to start making choices of where my life was going because it wasn't being carried along by fate anymore."

Instead of cursing the predicament, Satchwell embraced it, knowing a much needed break was necessary after a decade in the spotlight.

"I have been a bloody lucky actor," she admits.

"It helped me find the ground again, it was good. There was a year when things were quite lean and I had to branch out into voice-over work and selling clothes for family friends just to keep the wheels in motion.

"It was almost like I got an enforced break, which is probably a very healthy thing. I needed it."

Now, Satchwell is almost spoilt for choice with challenging roles.

Last year alone she featured as Felicity in the Network Ten British/Australian co-production, Tripping Over, alongside Rebecca Gibney, Lisa McCune and Daniel MacPherson; sung nursery rhymes on the long-running children's program Playschool; and filmed the eight-part drama series Dangerous.

From the creators of the multi-award winning drama Love My Way, Dangerous is an explosive action series - a tale of forbidden love set against the culturally diverse backgrounds of western suburbs street crime and the affluence of Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Joining seasoned actors Joel Edgerton and Satchwell are new kids on the block Paul Pantano, Nicole Da Silva and Vico Thai in their first regular roles in an Australian drama.

Satchwell stars as Donna, an ambitious young girl from the power side of Sydney, who hooks up with Dean, played by Khan Chittenden, a flamboyant young criminal and head of his own street gang - comprising Joe (Pantano), Riz (Thai) and the gutsy EC (Da Silva).

Watching over Donna is cynical detective Mark Field (Edgerton), who runs the task force hell-bent on busting the gang.

"It's been fantastic getting in the thick of things and that's exactly what she (Donna) does," Satchwell said of playing the outspoken gang member.

"The most challenging thing about playing her is that I have never personally entrenched myself in a gang and gone on ram-raids and stuff like that. So the biggest challenge has been to make sure it stays very grounded, very real, and that the reactions are what would happen in that situation.

"I want to make sure I do justice to that and the character."

Satchwell learned she'd scored the role just a week before rehearsals, leaving little time to prepare.

A bag of overdue library books is gathering dust on the backset of her car, a last minute attempt at researching for Dangerous.

"It's really just been about jumping in, going for it and showing sides of a story that people don't usually see," she said about the program which is filmed in and around Sydney's western suburb of Bankstown.

"We have seen gangs of people who house-share and have their lovely jobs and their funny drinking times and sexual escapades, but there is a whole wide world out there and it's nice we are branching out into that side."

Satchwell got her first television break in 1996 on Neighbours before moving out of Ramsey Street to grittier cop drama Water Rats.

Since then Satchwell, who dates Matt Newton, son of television great Bert Newton, has been working her way back into the acting world.

With 2006 being rewarding professionally, Satchwell has even found herself juggling work.

"I have had some Playschool booked in for the time I have been on Dangerous, so I have been smashing parking meters by night and singing nursery rhymes during the day - it's been hectic," she said.

"I have to make sure I do the right one in the right place! There is no magic trick (to juggling work). As soon as my head hits the pillow I am unconscious. I guess you just have to be careful what you wish for. One minute you can't pay the bills the next everything comes at once. But that's life."

Dangerous premieres on Foxtel's entertainment channel FOX8 on January 16 at 8.30pm (AEDT).

By Erin McWhirter
January 02, 2007