Dangerous: articles

Rebel land of new series Dangerous

A tattooed young hand rams the gear lever into first, wheels spin and the car slams through a supermarket's front window - alarms sound instantly.

A chain hooked onto the towbar of a panel van wraps around a free standing ATM, the driver accelerates and within 30 seconds the criminal mission is accomplished.

This is the world of fast cars, ram-raids and underworld dealings - the rebel land of television series Dangerous.

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

From the creator of multi-award winning drama Love My Way, the pay television program brings explosive action to the screen - a tale of forbidden love set against the culturally diverse backgrounds of western suburbs street crime and the affluence of Sydney's eastern suburbs.

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. While for most actors working on Dangerous the script is intense and revealing, for Thai it resembles his life growing up.

For Thai, of Asian decent and who was raised in Bankstown where the program is filmed, these scenes are all too familiar. "As a kid you really had to be tough in this area, if you weren't tough or didn't look tough you would be picked on," the 25-year-old told AAP.

"You had to keep your tough face on. Doing this has been a crazy experience for me, I grow up in the this area and knew that so many stories needed to be told. In society people ignore what's going on in the suburbs and concentrate on the happy side of life, rather than the real struggle for survival in these areas."

Acting has long been part of Thai's life, however Dangerous is his first major television role and his biggest challenge was portraying Riz with authenticity.

"Being so familiar with the area, it's not a hard task to bring the character out, but it's hard in a sense where you don't want to corrupt the character," he said.

"You want to bring the authenticity and the realness for viewers to decide for themselves how hard it is out there."

With most scenes filmed during the night, the cast and crew endured 12 hour days, sometimes beginning at 2am.

Da Silva, who up until Dangerous had enjoyed a six month stint on hospital drama All Saints, says she relished playing the only female member of the gang.

"I have never played a character like this, it's completely new," the 25-year-old said. "It's not often you get a role at 25 that is playing a 19-year-old, that has the strength and street cred (credibility) of EC. But a lot of the time you are pegged into these roles, because you are either pretty or you don't work.

"But this is awesome, because that side of things doesn't matter. To be in a gang with a group of boys that have instant respect ... it's been great."

The rising star has overcome a lot of hurdles during filming, including learning to drive a manual like a sleek car enthusiast, instead of bunny-hopping into a ram-raid.

Coping with highly emotional scenes has also been testing. "I did a big emotional scene the other day and just sustaining it and finding the reality in that was quite harrowing," Da Silva admits.

"You are completely drained, absolutely wasted, and just ready to curl up into a ball and go to bed and nurture yourself somehow. Your body doesn't know any different, it thinks something is wrong because you are really upset, when in reality you are just acting it. You are literally seeking out cuddles, hugs and general support from people because you feel empty and a bit weak after a scene like that."

The core of the script is the bond the gang share and the actors agree portraying their friendship wasn't hard.

"In the script the gang have been together since they were seven, so 12 years," said 24-year-old Pantano.

"When we first met we all clicked, so we didn't have to work too hard on that. Before we started shooting in rehearsals we worked on it and now we all hang out after work and stuff. Becoming friends is something that just happened, which is great."

An actor since he was eight, Pantano has featured in TV programs including ABC's Wildside and won the young actors category at the 1998 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards for police drama Water Rats.

His other TV credits include Stingers and All Saints.

"The last few years have been really quiet for me, so I have another job selling and brewing coffee," he said.

"It's hard not doing what you want to do because acting is my passion. But good roles aren't easy to come by - and when they do you just hope and pray you get them.

"Thankfully my prayers have been answered."

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

December 22, 2006