Marshall Law: articles

Lisa McCune

Lisa's law

The queen of the Logies Lisa McCune is returning to out screns in a sexy new role as a passionate young prosecutor

Australian television's golden girl Lisa McCune is back. After two and a half years away from the cameras she's returned—with a new look and a new edge—as a sexy, sassy, legal eagle with a strong commitment to her clients' causes and a healthy appetite for life and love.

Lisa's girl-next-door appeal saw her win her way into the hearts of millions of viewers around Australia and millions more in another 50 countries, with her role as country cop Maggie Doyle. And she's had a lot of changes in her real life since a bullet tragically ended Maggie's life on-screen. After six years in the Seven Network's top-rating drama Blue Heelers, Lisa wanted to move on. And she's fitted a lot into the time she's been away.

First there was her starkly different role in the TV miniseries The Potato Factory, after which she starred in the hit stage musical The Sound of Music.

Then came Lisa's surprise announcement that she was pregnant. And just over a year ago she gave birth to her beautiful baby son Archer.

Right now she's the country's most awarded actress—four Gold Logies for the most popular personality on Australian TV, five Silver Logies for the most popular actress, a Logie for the most popular new talent, and two People's Choice Awards for TV's favourite female star. Now she's excited about being back in front of the cameras. And she's set to turn up the heat, playing passionate junior crown prosecutor Ros Marshall in Seven's newest series Marshall Law.

It's a change of pace from her role as Maggie Doyle. Ros knows what she wants in life and is going to get it. She knows how to have fun too and she wants plenty of it—including great sex!

Lisa discounts suggestions that her new role is like being let out of a straightjacket, insisting she never felt constrained in Blue Heelers. There was after all, the passion Maggie shared with PJ, played by Martin Sacks. However, with its proposed 9.30pm timeslot, Marshall Law will be free to explore a lot more adult territory.

But with the launch only weeks away, Lisa's at the centre of a battle of TV's big guns with three major Aussie series fighting for supremacy on Tuesday nights.

The Nine Network already has Stingers pulling healthy ratings and about to get a major boost with the addition of two new cast members—Gary Sweet and Rebecca Gibney—for its next series.

Then there's the show the ABC has enormous faith in, MDA, starring Kerry Armstrong and Jason Donovan. It's an emotionally charged series based on court cases about medical negligence.

It's a programming war-zone.

But if Lisa is apprehensive, she's not letting on. 'I though I'd be nervous after being away for this long,' she says. 'And when I was due on set the first day, I was thinking: "Will I still be able to do this?" You get into a different stride when you're doing theatre. You adjust to working an audience and you find the beat with the audience'

But she's slotted straight back in better than she could have imagined.

And it's a new-look Lisa who's returning to our screens' More like Lara Flynn Boyle's Helen Gamble from The Practice than a country police officer.

But before she has to fight off the 'Is-she-anorexic?' stories, Lisa wants to make it clear she's never felt better. With Archer bounding with good health and Lisa still breastfeeding a year later, she has shed kilos from her already slight frame. Now a tiny size six, she has no idea how much she weighs.

'I don't possess a set of scales at home and I certainly haven't been dieting,' she says. 'I'm a busy mother and I have a responsibility to be healthy for my little boy, so I can assure you I eat well—everything and anything that's put in front of me.'

Lisa looks radiant and is content she's given Archer a great start in life, so she's not worried by the weight loss.

The pretty blonde, blue-eyed actress is the first to admit she had no idea just how exhausting life is when you bring a tiny new life into the world.

Accustomed to the often-gruelling pace of 14 hour days on Blue Heelers, Lisa says she never felt the strain. But adjusting to a new baby who woke every two hours, day and night, to demonstrate a healthy set of lungs, took its toll.

'It's my own fault,' Lisa says with a shrug. 'I did everything you're told not to do. But doesn't every parent with their first child! And he is so gorgeous.'

When Lisa knew she was to return to work, she was about to ring her mum in Perth and beg her to come over to be with Archer, But Lisa;s husband, talented film technician Tim Disney, stepped into the breach.

'I couldn't bear the thought of leaving him with someone he didn't know. But as it turned out Tim was just finishing a job he was working on and he said he'd stay home with Archer. So it's worked out perfectly. It means I can go off to work in the morning without having to worry about anything. Tim is devoted to Archer and he's really loving the time he has at home with him.

'He brings Archer into the studio a couple of times a week and I always ring and talk to him twice a day.'

McCune And Lisa is looking forward to having family time when she, Tim and Archer go to New York in a few weeks to soak up the theatre scene—particularly the hit musical Cabaret.

With Marshall Law soon to launch, Lisa's also getting ready for her starring role as the wildly decadent nightclub performer Sally Bowles in the big-budget musical Cabaret, which is directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes of American Beauty fame and will premiere in Melbourne in December. And what a look that is going to be.

'It's very sexy,' Lisa says with a smile.

'I've thrown away that nun's habit!' she adds laughing, referring to her role in The Sound of Music, which broke box-office records in Australia.

Donning black fishnet stockings, high heels and a low-cut, figure-hugging black lace corset, Lisa will be belting out a repertoire that's sure to knock the socks off the critics and win her even more fans. And while it might seem like she's thrown herself back into work with a punishing schedule, Lisa insists that she'll be in a production break from Marshall Law by the time she starts Cabaret rehearsals.

'I'm not a workaholic. It just happens that two great roles came along at the same time and when that happens, you don't want to pass up the opportunity. I'm not doing this to prove anything to anyone. I'm doing this for me!'

Lisa knows she faces the prospect of everyone comparing her new role to Maggie Doyle, but she isn't unduly fazed by that. 'I think the moment anyone hears the music for Marshall Law, they'll know this is something very different.

'Ros works for the crown prosecutors office but the show doesn't revolve solely around what goes on in the courtroom. It's very much about the private lives of two sisters—Ros (Lisa) and Verity (Alison Whyte from Frontline and Good Guys, Bad Guys) and their friends and lovers,' Lisa explains.

'It's very different from anything that's been tried here before. The cases we're dealing with aren't just murder trials—they're more the bizarre ones you might not expect to come before the courts.

'In one of the early episodes, I'm representing a tabletop dancer who happily admits that she performs raunchy routines for a living, but she decides to take her boss to court when she thinks he's guilty of sexual harassment.'

Marshall Law reunites Lisa with former Blue Heelers co-star William McInnes, who sent female viewers' pulses racing in the ABC's SeaChange.

He plays Dylan Boyd, an eminent QC and the ex-husband of Ros' barrister sister Verity.

'Ros adores Dylan—he's like the brother she never had,' Lisa says. 'But he invariably causes sparks to fly between Ros and Verity. He never misses an opportunity to get a reaction out of Verity. She is determined to make up for lost time. Verity feels she subjugated her career to help Dylan in his while they were married, now she figures it's time to concentrate on her career.'

Lisa gets on well with Alison Whyte, who plays her screen sister Verity. 'I'd never worked with Alison before, but that has been fantastic. She's just amazing.'

What Lisa loves most about her new show is the writing. 'They're really fine tuned scripts and very witty. What surprised me so much is how funny it is—the humour that comes from these characters,' she says.

After Marshall Law launches, she'll be frantically packing her bags for the New York trip.

'It's so cute. Archer's got his own passport with his adorable photo. I said to Tim: "What's he going to do in 10 years when he tries to get through customs with that picture!"'

Last time she was in New York Lisa had morning sickness, so this time she wants to see everything she missed then.

Cabaret will then be another challenge, but Lisa's immensely excited at the prospect. No one knows better than she does how physically demanding the job is.

'Doing The Sound of Music was one of the greatest challenges I have ever taken on—the sheer physicality of it?being on stage half the night then fronting up again for matinees.

'I'm proud of the fact that I never missed a show. I probably should have a couple of times,' Lisa adds quickly.

'And those people who were in the audience at those shows will know exactly the ones I mean,' she says with a smile. 'But I think if people pay good money for tickets, then you have a responsibility to go out there and give them your best.'

Before she gets back on stage, Lisa will be eagerly awaiting viewers' reactions to Marshall Law. Even so, she isn't looking for people to forget Maggie Doyle. 'Blue Heelers, for me, was rare and a gem. Now I want to create something as special again.'

And will she be collecting a few tapes for Archer to see in the years ahead?

'I don't think so. I'm really worried that when he grows up I'll be such an embarrassment to him!'

By Patrice Fidgeon
Pictures: Ross Coffey and Andy Vukosav
July 2002
New Idea