Stingers: articles

Anita Hegh

On the street: some police say “G’day, boss” to TV cop Anita Hegh.

A soft cop, really

Anita Hegh my be a tough nut on-screen, but she’s really quite a softie, writes Tim Jamieson

Anita Hegh strides towards us, and I’m wondering what it will be like having to deal with hard-nosed detective Ellen Mackenzie.

Fortunately, Hegh in not locked in the character of the tough, no-nonsence cop. In fact, she’s all smiles and apologises profusely for running late.

The Stingers crew are filming a scene between Church (Peter Phelps) and Mackenzie just around the corner from the Morning Star hotel in Williamstown.

Soon after. Hegh jumps into the Channel 9 publicists waiting car and heads back to the production’s base in nearby Douglas Parade.

Williamstown is a familiar film location, and Hegh laughs about the day the Stingers team were filming barely a street away from Channel 7’s cuddly Blue Heelers’ cops.

As herself, Hegh comes across as a warm, gregarious woman. In private, she conceded, her persona is about as boisterous and loud as once can be.

Her looks, too, are as striking as on the box. Perhaps, it’s the interesting combination of the genes her Estonian mother and Norwegian father have handed down.

She is as happy partying with friends as she is jumping on her bicycle or staying at home and watching one of her favourite TV shows, Absolutely Fabulous.

That said, Hegh can be something of a shrinking violet. She does not go looking for the limelight.

“Being a shy person is a public thing,” Hegh says. “I’m not really into running around being a celebrity… I’m quite shy in that respect.”

Stingers celebrates its 100th episode next Tuesday and Channel 9 executives have just commissioned a sixth series.

The undercover cop drama has rated well and is watched by more than one million viewers nationally each week.

Having been with the show since it made its debut in 1998, Hegh is mindful of not being typecast as a police officer.

Not that there is much chance of that happening. Her versatility is reflected in a resumé boasting a number of major theatrical performances, including that of Rosalind in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

Next, though a small role, was her feature film debut as Bett in Paradise Road.

Her Stingers audition came more than four years ago.

It rained the day she auditioned so she didn’t do the run the other actors were asked to perform.

“They wanted to see how we ran and if we were coordinated—you know, look good.”

Between jobs, the Sydney-born actress was selling T-shirts at the Australian Museum to pay her bills. She had no idea that Sen Det Sgt Mackenzie was about to be born.

The reaction from police who see her in the street is mixed, “Sometimes you can walk past them and they say ‘G’day, boss’,” Hegh laughs.

But has she ever been arrested? No, though she has been given a ticket for speeding. The policeman didn’t recognise her and there were no favours for a “member of the force”.

“Kate (Kendall) had one and he (the policeman) was like ‘G’day, will you sign this for my cousin?’ But her still gave her a ticket!”

When Hegh’s previous home in Carlton was turned over by burglars, a police officer who arrived first said nothing of the show, but later looked up incredulously at the youthful-looking Hegh.

“He said, ‘Yeah, how come your character on TV is a senior detective sergeant?’”

Hegh has played Mac for almost five years, so does she like her?

“I like her when she’s a bit strange, but I hate her when she is grumpy and bossing everyone about.”

By Tim Jamieson
April 17, 2002
The Herald Sun
Picture: Andrew Tauber