Murder Call: profiles

Lucy Bell as Detective Tessa Vance | Peter Mochrie as Detective Steve Hayden

Peter Mochrie as Detective Steve Hayden

Peter Mochrie

Steve Hayden is the golden boy of homicide. A by-the-book cop who believes procedure gets results, and no-one could deny Steve’s got what it takes to go a long way.

Underneath that infectious smile and charming demeanour lies an emotional detachment and a driving ambition. Part of his aloof manner is self-preservation—Steve’s way of dealing with the grisly reality of his job.

In the past 10 years, Steve’s been dealt two sobering blows. The first was losing the family farm to the bank, the second his failed marriage. His wife didn’t stick around long enough to see him out of uniform and through university, and it’s taken a long time for Steve to realise that he never really loved her. Since then, there have been short relationships, but the hours of his job are so invasive that anything serious is out of the question. To relax, Steve sands back a door in his unrenovated house, watches sport on TV, or plays pool.

Like a fox at the rabbit hole, Steve is watchful and patient—his eyes are his weapon. He reassures the innocent and makes the guilty sweat. Steve’s at his best under pressure, only too aware that indecision could cost him, his partner or an innocent bystander their lives.

Steve keeps Tessa on track. Her cavalier approach to solving crimes makes him uneasy. On the other hand, Steve’s insistence on procedure occasionally means that he misses clues. Tessa phones him at all hours of the night and he patiently listens while she paces the floor bouncing ideas off him. It’s an intimacy that they don’t allow themselves at work, and something Steve secretly enjoys.

Peter Mochrie is one of Australia’s best known television actors. He’s worked on Blue Heelers, he played Detective Senior Sergeant John Knocker Harrison in Water Rats and he’s leapt at the opportunity to work with Hal McElroy again.

Peter laughs as he admits there is an element of vicarious pleasure in playing a cop. it’s the biggest game in town., he says, although he’s quick to add that he doesn’t have the yearning to deal with such atrocious crime in real life.

Peter identifies strongly with his character’s need for order amongst chaos. Like Steve, he has a flair for puzzle solving, and shares a desire to see justice triumph over evil. To take another person’s life is the ultimate sin. Steve desperately wants to get the bad guy for the victim’s family.

When Peter landed his first role in television 10 years ago on a series called The Restless Years, he instantly became a heart-throb. Since then he’s had long stints on Neighbours, Sons and Daughters, and Home & Away. Peter graduated from NIDA in 1990, an experience he describes as the best and worst thing that I’ve ever done. Since then he has been cast in many theatrical productions as well as working on Blue Heelers, GP and Power Rangers—The Movie.

The research Peter did for his role as Knocker in Water Rats helped enormously in preparing him for his role as Steve. Keeping Steve’s role fresh, spontaneous and real is a challenge Peter clearly enjoys. He likens Steve to a doberman. On the one hand he’s a good-natured, good-looking pedigree animal. On the other, with the slightest turn of the head, he becomes vicious’ and unpredictable.