Rush: articles

Armed and ready ... Jolene Anderson.

Put through her paces

Jolene Anderson had to hit the ground running when she joined Rush's tactical response team.

Having spent three years in the emergency room of All Saints Western General Hospital, actress Jolene Anderson thought she knew how to work at a cracking pace. But parachuting into Ten's high-octane drama Rush as it roars into its second season meant she had to hit the ground running - literally.

"This is a much faster pace, everything is on location and, because of the nature of the storytelling, I'm a lot more involved with this than I was with All Saints," she says. "These guys were all trained up a year ago and have had that time to settle in. I've had to come in cold, so I've had to sprint into it, which is not bad because that's what my character is doing as well."

Anderson plays Senior Constable Shannon Henry, who joins the tactical response team, based loosely on Victoria's critical incident response team, which deals with violent incidents such as carjackings, suicides and sieges. "She's quite confident, good at her job and cocky in a way," Anderson says of her character. "She can get in there and mix it up with the boys but obviously something is going to happen and she's going to fall off her perch."

As nurse Erica Templeton on All Saints, Anderson found herself as a poster girl for the nursing industry, a role she initially found daunting but eventually relished. In her new role, she now has an obligation to the few female police working in the tactical response field. "We're not general duties police and we're not special operations, we're in the middle and there are only so many females in these roles, so hopefully you're standing up for the girls in those positions," she says.

The biggest challenge, she says, is to be authentic. "You want the performance to be as true as possible. Sometimes, when I watch Grey's Anatomy, for example, I see things that are not plugged into walls and certain procedures that, as an actor working on All Saints, I had learnt. It's really important to deliver an authentic performance and that covers everything from your stance to how you handle the gear.

"The other actors on Rush are so conscientious and the authenticity they want to bring to their characters is huge. That's a fantastic working environment to come into and it's a great energy to work with because in those situations they will stand up and say: 'We can't do that, we wouldn't do this,' " she says.

Anderson joins a strong cast that includes Underbelly's Rodger Corser and Callan Mulvey, as well as Catherine McClements, Samuel Johnson, Nicole da Silva, Josef Ber and Ashley Zukerman.

The new policewoman gets a frosty reception from her colleagues, who are still trying to come to terms with the death of team member, senior constable Grace Barry (Claire van der Boom), who died from injuries sustained in a bomb blast in the first season.

Anderson's fellow actors, on the other hand, welcomed the new girl on the block. "They have been very accommodating - they're watching my back, they make sure I'm holding my weapon properly. They're really good with that."

Anderson says she accepted the role because she wanted a change of scenery. After three years on All Saints and a competition-winning performance on the singing show It Takes Two, she dabbled in musical theatre, starring in a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tell Me On A Sunday. Last year she also had to deal with the death of her close friend, All Saints co-star Mark Priestley.

With demonstrated talent on the stage, there were murmurs she would abandon television for a career in musical theatre. She won't rule it out, though for the moment she is focusing on television. "I'd like to give a musical another go because I really enjoyed it and I miss being on stage and singing," she says. "At the same time, going into another TV show was daunting, after three years on one show, but I think what was good for me was having a change of scenery, so it was quite appealing to come down to Melbourne.

"Rush has quite a different vibe and style to a lot of other shows on Australian television, so that was a big attraction for me," she says. "I loved the scripts, I loved the storylines and I thought the character development was subtle and nicely woven around the action."

Rush returns to Ten on Thursday at 8.30pm.

July 13, 2009
Sydney Morning Herald