Packed To The Rafters: articles

Actor Zoe Cramond from TV show Packed to the Rafters.

New girl Zoe Cramond loves her Rafters family

New girl Zoe Cramond is embracing her Rafters role and the Sydney lifestyle, writes Holly Byrnes.

Surfing is a good metaphor for Zoe Cramond's decision last year to join the tight-knit and hugely successful Australian drama series Packed To The Rafters.

With Channel 7's ratings blockbuster still riding the wave of critical and popular acclaim, being the new girl, dropped in after the emotional death of a beloved character, had its risks.

For Cramond, the opportunity to make the move across the ditch from her developing place on New Zealand TV, including guest roles on hit series such as Outrageous Fortune and Go Girls, was a leap of faith she took with some reservations.

"I was really nervous. I wasn't living in Australia at that time, so I got flown over and that just added to the nerves," Cramond recalls.

"Coming over from a different place you put pressure on yourself to do well.

"I thought for some reason the set would be really different and the people would be really different but they were exactly the same as you see them on screen."

And like their on-screen personae, Cramond says the Rafters clan "could not be more welcoming and Hugh (Sheridan) has been amazing to work with. He's such a great actor and a lovely friend."

Playing Emma Mackey, a potential new love interest for Sheridan's widowed character Ben Rafter, added to expectations with viewers around the country grieving the loss of his TV wife, Melissa (played by Wild Boys actress Zoe Ventoura).

When fellow Rafters golden girl Jessica Marais also headed for Hollywood, it was left to Cramond and another Kiwi, Camille Keenan (playing Bree Jennings) to fill the void.

Living up to that legacy has been all part of the challenge, the 26-year-old says.

"I just think it's wonderful they were so popular. It's fantastic, but Emma is such a different character to (Ventoura's) Mel.

"It's never going to be the same as that. She's different in her own way and Ben and Emma's love is different. They are such great friends, so it starts differently."

This season their relationship is central to the storyline, with Cramond careful not to give too much away.

"Things grow literally because she's helping him with his garden and also between them. As friends and in other ways," she hints.

Away from the set, Cramond has finally put down roots in Sydney, taking to the beach lifestyle of coastal suburb Clovelly and continuing her teenage passion for surfing.

"My best friend and I learned to surf together in Little Waihi, in New Zealand and I've just kept it up," she says.

"When I went to uni I stopped doing it, but moving here I've got back into it. It's so good, I'm addicted to it. There's nothing like it."

She shares a love of nature and the outdoors with her Rafters character.

"I love the ocean and nature and she also loves gardening and the outdoors. I connect with that side of her, which is nice."

Having the support of Rafters matriarch Rebecca Gibney has also helped with Cramond's transition.

"She's been amazing, an incredible woman. I do definitely look up to her a lot since I moved here. We're always around, bumping into each other on set. It's cool, it's nice, like a family."

By Holly Byrnes
February 08, 2012