The Secret Life of Us: articles

Evan and Alex

Back from the past: Claudia Karvan reappears in The Secret Life Of Us… and it's not all smooth sailing.

The last goodbye

It's been a strange few weeks for Claudia Karvan. The actor who helped make The Secret Life Of Us one of our most watched new dramas a few years ago, then left to pursue other areas, has returned to the program to shake things up a bit as the season finale nears.

Which means she's been in the surreal position of being an actor revisiting a chapter of her life she had thought was closed—playing a character who is revisiting a chapter of her life she had thought was closed.

"It was serious deja vu!" Karvan said. "And kind of odd because I felt like I'd said goodbye to (her character) Alex and then I was suddenly revisiting an old life, along with the comforts of that… it was also quite peculiar, like being reborn.

"[But] it kind of felt right when the producers suggested the idea to me. I felt that there was some kind of connection between Alex and Evan (played by Samuel Johnson) because it's been three years of confusion and even if she is in a stable relationship [with someone else] there is that sentimental attachment with Evan that is undeniable.

"He satisfies a different part of her I guess and when she comes back by herself it's a bit like revisiting her old self even though she's become someone so different."

To say Alex's return has thrown a spanner in the works of Evan's life is no understatement. All the old feelings are brought to the surface, rekindling the will-they, won't-they guessing of earlier episodes.

This time around, however, she's a bit more forthright than before. It's not all hugs and kisses when they meet.

"The old flawed Alex is back definitely and she certainly stumbles through life and follows whatever impulses come along," Karvan said. "And that causes a lot of damage for Evan.

"I actually really enjoyed having a fight with Evan. I don't think Alex and Evan ever really had a good spat and were nasty to each other.

"Now that's happened it kind of feels like they're more lovers now than they ever were because they're fighting like lovers."

But while Karvan's return is a chance for the characters to finally find closure, it coincides with a new beginning for The Secret Life Of Us.

After much speculation, Network Ten last week announced a fourth series of the show would go ahead, with executive producer Sue Masters adding that, while Alex is gone, Karvan may still have a home.

"We would always love to have Claudia as part of Secret Life Of Us, but probably from now on as a director, Masters said. "We've started plotting [the new series] already."

The idea of taking a turn on the other side of the camera is one which appeals to Karvan, who has already directed an episode of the series.

Despite two new projects under development for Ten, she said she wasn't ready to let Secret Life Of Us go entirely.

"I think I've done my dash as Alex, I have to say so, no, I don't think a return is on the cards," Karvan said.

"But I think the show's still got a hell of a lot of life in it and being the type of show it is I think it could handle a whole new cast and a whole new set of storylines and just keep the character of St Kilda [where the series is filmed] as one of the constants.

"I think it would be great if the fourth series did go ahead and I'd love to come back and direct a block.

"I've really enjoyed working in the television medium and I've found the past three years to be really collaborative.

"I feel like the learning curve has been exponential for me. It has been a really satisfying experience."

By Scott Ellis
August 11, 2003
The Sun-Herald