The Secret Life of Us: articles

Secrets and lives

VINCE Colosimo is a truly charismatic man. He calmly saunters around the set of The Secret Life of Us, apparently unaware his rugged frame is attracting the attention of almost everyone around him. But halfway through an interview with Colosimo, his forcefield of charisma is breached. Samuel Johnson appears behind him wearing only boxer shorts despite chilly Melbourne weather. He also happens to be wearing Sibylla Budd around his waist and the pair are galloping to and fro and cackling hysterically.

It is one of many moments on the set of The Secret Life of Us which gives substance to rumours that the cast and crew are a particularly happy unit.

In the case of Johnson and Budd, they are practically joined at the hip.

But the eye-catching act only weakens Colosimo's allure briefly.

He and his tales of life as Claudia Karvan's new love interest are far too fascinating to ignore.

The second series of Secret Life began filming in early December and already changes to the production are evident.

By all reports, the on-set catering has improved considerably. So happy was the belly of Sibylla Budd, she suggested it had been impregnated by mud cake. You do not want to know what she plans to do with the offspring.

The team also has to deal with crowd chaos when they film on location in Melbourne's St Kilda. Audiences of up to 400 on-lookers are now commonplace.

But the most intrinsic elements of the show remain unchanged.

The writing team promises a similar mix of gritty storylines and the actors seem as committed as ever, with impromptu rehearsals occurring throughout the Melbourne studio.

The only major change to the show initially is the addition of the previously unseen character Rex, played by Colosimo who is known to older viewers for 1980s films Moving Out and Street Hero. More recently he starred in Wog Boy.

He was hand-picked for the role which will see him play doctors with resident career high-flyer Alex, played by Claudia Karvan.

Colosimo is well aware that his appearance may cause viewers some concern. The last season saw an infatuated Evan (Johnson) and Alex separated by Evan's trip to America. Rex's appearance on the scene is almost certain to cause Evan some grief.

"Some people will say: 'We don't need an outsider coming in and breaking that up,' but some others might think it's a good thing as well," Colosimo ventures.

"He's not a mean guy, he's not a bad guy, and a lot of people want to see Alex happy. He comes in and he doesn't break up a group but he steps into a group and that can always be a bit unbalancing for the people involved and people watching."

Rex is very aware he is interacting with a tight friendship group, Colosimo says, but he is not initially privy to the relationship between Evan and Alex.

At this point Colosimo begins to struggle. His face tenses and he tugs at his left earlobe. He wants to fully explain the character and his situation, but to do so would be letting on too much.

Colosimo is well aware that Secret Life has a committed fan base eager to discover new storylines.

He was one such fan during the show's first season, and says he "watched the whole thing".

Colosimo says the show appealed to Australia's twenty-something demographic in a way that no homegrown television series has done previously—"not with the bar raised and being socially aware".

"I think that's why people like it and I think that's probably why people don't like it as well because it goes too far sometimes," he says. "People have had a lot of things to say about this show but I think that only makes it more popular."

After accepting the AFI Award last year for Best Actor In a Supporting Role for Lantana, Colosimo has a long line of jobs stretched ahead of him.

His role in Secret Life has already been extended beyond his original commitment, and after filming finishes he begins work on a film called Take Away with Stephen Curry and Rose Byrne. He also starred in the pilot of Network Ten's law series Life, which is yet to get the go-ahead.

Colosimo says he is "very comfortable" at the moment—a rare feeling for an actor—and plans to keep working within Australia.

Another change to the show will concern Budd's character, the typically frustrated Gabrielle. She will become happier this year—a development that Budd says thrills her no end.

"You start to care about your character—'Oh, she's not going to have any more tragedies is she? Oh the poor thing'. And it was horrible last year," she says. "It gets a lot better. I wish I could tell you."

The secret will soon be out.

The Secret Life of Us, Ten, Monday, 8.30pm.

The Courier Mail
Jennifer Dudley
February 13, 2002