Rush: articles

Catherine McClements (left) and Jolene Anderson (right)

Rush star sheds silent tears

JOLENE Anderson is standing in front of the mirror. Distress flickers across her face as she unzips her leather jacket.

Two bruises mark Anderson's sternum. Gingerly, she peels her dress off. More welts cover her back.

Anderson retrieves a phone camera and starts shooting. She is collecting evidence of a vicious physical and sexual assault. That was the scene that confronted viewers in last week's series return of Rush.

Anderson's character, Sgt Shannon Henry, had been bashed and raped. This is set to have a devastating emotional impact on the tenacious Tactical Response police officer.

Filming the rape storyline, which will play out over the next month on Rush, had a profound effect on Anderson.

It is a world away from Anderson's last major role, sweet-natured nurse Erica Templeton on All Saints.

"It is the most challenging thing I've ever done as an actor," Anderson says.

"It was very confronting and upsetting working yourself up into those emotions. I remember having a nightmare about it the week after.

"I felt very vulnerable. I had to go home and shake it off because it is quite toxic."

Henry's way of coping with the trauma of rape is to bottle it up. She throws herself into her work.

The person closest to Henry's heart, Sen-Sgt Lawson Blake (Rodger Corser), is ignorant of the attack.

Henry doesn't tell the TR team's tough-as-nails Superintendent Kerry Vincent, played by Catherine McClements.

Vincent has other things on her mind. She has a new police minister to report to, and must cope with the fallout of bringing Sen-Sgt Charlie Lewis (Antony Starr) to the squad.

"I looked up similar cases and the psychological damage you are left with after it (sexual assault) happens," Anderson says. "Do you tell your partner or do you not? You should tell somebody but who do you tell? Can you tell anybody in your job or will they go and tell your boss?

"She (Henry) is a woman in a man's world. You read a lot of articles about women in the navy or army or police and they come forward (to report a sexual assault) and their chances of climbing the ladder are minimised.

"I struggled with the fact that she doesn't tell him (Blake), but she's in shock. She doesn't know how to process it all."

Anderson knows all about bottling up emotions. She was devastated when, in August 2008, her friend, actor Mark Priestley, took his own life.

Anderson, who played Priestley's wife on the Channel 7 medical drama, went into full retreat. She links the time to a serious deterioration in her health when she came down with swine flu, pneumonia and then whooping cough.

The full force of Priestley's death still hits Anderson at the most unlikely moments.

"There are some things you can deal with and some you can't - they become part of you," Anderson confides.

"I couldn't talk about it (Priestley's death) for years. I just went 'I don't want to talk about it'.

"I remember doing the musical Tell Me on Sunday in Melbourne a week after my friend (Priestley) died.

"I was on stage and there was a scene where I cry and he popped into my head. I fell down on the stage sobbing and there were 600 people looking at me and I thought, 'Could someone just peel me off the stage'. I was so upset.

"There was a day when I was on the set of Rush and I just started crying when I was rehearsing a scene with Rodger.

"He said, 'Are you all right, do you want to have a half-hour break' and I'm like, 'No, it will pass'.

"There are some things in life that shouldn't happen. Something like that (Priestley's death) I think about how his family must feel.

"I still can't listen to the soundtrack of Tell Me on Sunday.

"I keep that one (set of emotions) bottled."

Anderson's face brightens as she discusses the future.

There is no certainty Rush will be back next year. It looks as if Ten is putting its money behind new dramas including Lisa McCune's Reef Doctors and Bikie Wars, from the makers of Underbelly.

This doesn't faze Anderson. She has a play, Fractions, coming up for the Queensland Theatre company.

Then Anderson plans a return to music, perhaps even releasing an album.

Let's not forget that she was the winner of Seven celebrity singing competition It Takes Two.

"Music, for me, has been such a major part of my life, but I've put my head down with the acting," Anderson says. "I put music aside but now I'm ready to pick it up again."

By Colin Vickery
September 07, 2011