Stingers: articles

Anita Hegh

Accomplished: TV star Anita Hegh takes on theatre again.

Stinger treads on the dark side in a Jacobean tragedy

Anita Hegh denies it, but her career as a television star in Stingers has strong similarities to that of Logies golden girl Lisa McCune.

"I'm not in the same category at all. Lisa is much more of a star because you don't see me on magazine covers all the time," Hegh says.

"My character on Stingers (Sergeant Ellen Mackenzie) is not a girl-next-door type, which is what made Lisa so popular."

But Hegh is similar to McCune in her direct manner and lack of pretension about being a star. Like McCune, who worked on theatre productions during her career on Blue Heelers, she is also preparing to tread the boards during the break between series of Stingers.

She stars in John Webster's 17th century tragedy The Duchess of Malfi for the Melbourne Theatre Company, which opens tomorrow.

It is a gory tale about a virtuous woman murdered by her brother because her family disagrees with her choice of husband.

She said the role was a great challenge, describing it as "one of the most extraordinary female roles in history".

While the setting of the play is obviously different from the modern world, Hegh said it reminded her of the situation faced by Princess Diana, who lived in the public eye but at the same time was always under surveillance of security cameras.

"A lot of women today still don't feel in control of their lives," she said.

But modern life is much less violent than the play. "There are knives, guns and strangling—we've got the lot. Violence is even inherent in the language, which is very graphic."

There is some similarity to Stingers, where Hegh said her character had some darkness in her portrayal.

But she said the challenges posed by classical theatre roles—she has also starred in Sydney in two of Shakespeare's plays, As You Like It and King Lear—help keep her fresh for the rigors of television.

She begins shooting on her fifth season of Stingers next month, while still performing on stage. It will be her last, before she looks for more work in theatre and television.

She acknowledges that this will be a lot easier because of the profile she has gained from the show.

"People like Geoffrey Rush and Rachel Griffiths were all experienced stage actors before they become famous in film," she said.

"Playing in Stingers has been perfect timing because it has helped open doors for me, now and in the future."

By Robin Usher
August 28, 2001
The Age