Rush: articles

Three-year deal at Rush ... Former All Saints Jolene Anderson.

Jolene Anderson's three-year deal with Ten's Rush

JOLENE Anderson describes herself as resilient. And it's a trait she tested to the max last year.

Not only had the actress and singer decided to quit her posting as nurse Erica Templeton on hospital drama All Saints after three years, her co-star on the Channel 7 drama, Mark Priestley, took his own life in August.

At the same time Anderson was preparing to star in an all-singing, all-dancing one woman stage show, Tell Me On A Sunday.

"The other day I said, 'How did I do a one-woman show?' " Anderson, 29, says. "I don't know how I walked out on stage every night. I certainly got a few grey hairs from it."

The show demanded a seasoned singer and actor to wring out bittersweet emotions and Anderson, who credits her upbringing in the NSW Mid North Coast town of Kempsey for her resilience, hoped she'd pull it off.

Life was hectic, sad and challenging all at the same time and the performer admits there were times she wondered if she'd cope with the demands of her professional and private life.

So, after completing her stint on stage, the roving gypsy jumped in her car and embarked on a road trip to clear her head. It was also a time to reflect on the highs and lows 2008 had dished up.

"I finished my theatre show and packed all my stuff up and just sort of lived out of my car for five months," Anderson says on the phone from her new base in Melbourne, where she has begun her role as 28-year-old Senior Constable Shannon Henry in Channel 10's one-hour police drama Rush.

"I was at my mum's and then at my partner's and a bit of everywhere. I think I had to balance the country and city, just get out of the city every now and again to clear my head. The city is so fast-paced so it was good to get away.

"Last year was such a big year in a lot of ways and I think I could have worked through it all and taken other jobs but I had to find downtime, otherwise I would have run myself into the ground."

Anderson has now switched networks and found herself a juicy role on the drama created by John Edwards (Love My Way).

Ten, pleased with the response to the series last year, has upped the episodes by nearly half to 22, allowing for character storylines to develop and plots to have a slow burn. The network has also moved Rush's timeslot from 9.30pm on Tuesdays to the coveted primetime slot of 8.30pm on Thursdays.

That has given the show's cast, including Rodger Corser, Callan Mulvey, Catherine McClements and Samuel Johnson, a clear indication their fancy camerawork has been well received.

"It's great," says Corser, whose star rose playing detective Steve Owen in the original Underbelly series. He leads the Rush team as primary navigator Lawson Blake.

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"Channel 10 is showing some faith in us. Last year I think we did really well — we lasted past four episodes which is a pretty good test compared to some other shows last year in the same timeslot and we managed to show a whole season.

"We were up against the incumbent All Saints and held our own, I thought. We also got a pretty strong and loyal audience, so hopefully they will move with us to 8.30pm this year for the ride. It also gives us the opportunity to broaden our audience."

Rush is an action drama series set in a critical incident response police unit in Melbourne. The team is trained to be smarter, tactically superior and have a technological advantage over regular uniformed police.

Anderson, who has signed a three-year contract with the show, says she has enjoyed the action-packed pace of Rush as it has brought many stunt challenges.

"We do actually do a lot of it (the stunts) ourselves," she says. "You work within your limit. You don't go out there and try and do everything, but we do give as much as we can a go. You want to make it look authentic."

Authenticity is the key in dramas based around real jobs, as Anderson learned during her time on All Saints. However, playing a member of the tactical response team is certainly different to nursing. Joining an already-established cast, who had mastered the art of gun-wielding, also made for some interesting moments on set.

"I didn't get to do a lot of training because it all happened so quickly once they asked me to be on the show," Anderson says.

"But it's been great because, if we are scoping a house or something, they aren't afraid to tell me if I am doing something wrong. They all have it down pat because they've done one season doing all this stuff.

"So when I am doing something wrong they will pull me up and say, 'Jo, put your bum in and put your arms straight', which is good because you want it to look as authentic as possible. I don't want to look like a goose and they don't want to be in a scene with a goose so hopefully I've been keeping my bum in and not out."

Corser says Anderson has fitted into the team's groove like a glove and her addition has made for stronger character plots, which he believes the show may have lacked last year.

"We were trying to find that balance between the character and the response team last year, but I think we've got it this year," he says. "It's been great having Jolene on board. She hadn't even fired a gun before until her first scene, so she's done a great job of hitting the ground running."

Corser is not one to shy away from analysing his own performances, and believes it is essential for actors to view their own material.

"I've always watched myself back and used it as a tool," he says. "You have to just face up to it and go, 'I would change that if I had that over again', and take it on board so you can hopefully improve yourself. Some people don't look back because of their confidence but I like the jolt of it and would rather know I was doing something that wasn't quite right and fix it than carry on."

Rush, Thursday, Ten, 8.30pm

July 15, 2009
The Daily Telegraph