Guitarist Richie Sambora will always be known as the man who co-wrote some of rock’s biggest songs as a founding member of the multi-platinum band Bon Jovi. But last year, after 30 years, he quit the band to go solo. I caught up with the 54-year-old during his recent visit as a headliner of the Soundwave festival to chat about leaving Bon Jovi to spend more time with his daughter, Ava, how he loves his ex-wife Heather Locklear more now than when they were married, and the Bon Jovi songs he will never play again.
Socceroos star Tim Cahill, one of Australia’s best-known footballers, is looking forward to the biggest year of his career as he prepares to play in a third World Cup. When not pulling on the green and gold for the Socceroos, Cahill plays for the New York Red Bulls and currently lives in New York with his wife and young family. He spent most of the Major League Soccer off-season at home in Australia and caught up with me to chat about the World Cup, his family life and how living in New York has inspired him to partner with the men’s suiting brand Shoreditch London to launch his own clothing line, Shoreditch by Tim Cahill.
Actor and singer Tim Campbell is due to release his debut album in April. Campbell is best known for his work on Home and Away and, most recently, House Husbands, where he played Tom Parker, the working husband of Gyton Grantley’s character, Kane. Kane and Tom marked the first time that an Australian drama has featured a gay couple raising a child. However, last month it was announced that Campbell’s character has been written out of the Nine drama and will not return for the third season. I caught up with the 38-year-old to chat about his album, the shock announcement of his departure from the show and his off-air relationship with singer Anthony Callea.
The 2014 Magic Millions carnival has begun! Zara Phillips was the ambassador last year and since then the Queen’s granddaughter has signed on to be the Patron of Magic Millions Racing Women for the next four years. Phillips is pregnant with her first child, so she wasn’t able to attend this year’s carnival but here is a flashback from our ‘Date with Kate’ chat last year….
Zara Phillips, British Olympic equestrian team silver medallist and the eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, was on Queensland’s Gold Coast as ambassador of the Magic Millions Racing Women initiative. I caught up with the 31-year-old to chat about her upbringing, dealing with the paparazzi, and starting a family.
What was it like growing up in a royal family?
When I do interviews, I hate talking about my family a lot because they are my family and that’s all I can say. It’s the same as it was for anyone else – obviously, people don’t quite believe me. Yes, we were in the public eye but we are still a family and growing up is the same. We were very lucky in the way that we had great places to go and great opportunities and hopefully all of us have used them and learnt from them, but then again, it’s just family.
Do you have to deal with paparazzi everywhere you go in Britain?
No, I live in the country with the horses so I can get around at home, unless I’m going somewhere public or I’m with the family in London or doing stuff for sponsors – then there is media. But otherwise I’m lucky, I get left alone.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever read about yourself?
One of them was last time I was here, they said ”your royal thongness”, and everyone was like, ”Oh my God, she is wearing thongs!”, and I was like, ”Why is that so weird that I’m wearing thongs?” There have been loads [of strange things written] but most of the time it’s when people misquote you, it’s frustrating … The worst thing is, you know how people say ”today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper”? It isn’t true any more, because it’s all on the web so it always comes back up.
Do people sometimes not recognise you and treat you differently once they realise who you are?
Sometimes. This week I went through customs and I had my riding boots with me, so I had to go through the system and they had to clean my boots and the lady looked at me and said, ”Oh I just realised who you are.” It’s quite nice when people don’t recognise you, and obviously it’s a good thing for me because then they are relaxed.
What made you agree to be involved in the Magic Millions?
It’s close to me; I love horses and I love racing. Plus, being in a hot country like Australia, it wasn’t hard to twist my arm!
Is your husband involved in horse racing?
Funny you should say that. My husband [rugby player Mike Tindall] and two other rugby boys and their trainer own this horse together. The reason is, we were all at the sales at Cheltenham races and they were at the table, drinking away, with horses coming and the last lot comes in – and he swears that he didn’t have too much alcohol in him – but it was the end of the night and he starts bidding for this horse and I was like, ”What is he doing?!” so now the four of them are involved. It’s a funny story, but that’s why I’m not taking him to the sales again, he’s dangerous!
What is an average day for you?
I get up and I’ve got seven eventers to ride and then I’ve got three pointers. I ride every day until they are done, doing fitness, jumping or dressage, so every day is different.
What was it like winning silver at the Olympics?
It was the best experience of my life … We would have loved to have taken the gold home, and we were really close. When the first result came out I was disappointed … but then when you get [the medal] around your neck, you think, ”This isn’t so bad!” You stop moaning and shut up [laughs].
Given Will and Kate are having a baby, are you planning on starting a family any time soon?
Yes, hopefully. I’m trying to see if we can plan it in … but the trouble is I have really good horses at the moment. It would be easier if I didn’t have any good ones, so you could kind of go, ”OK, flag this year.” We will see what happens.
What do you do for fun?
I watch my husband play rugby and I play hockey sometimes. Otherwise, I just stay at home and chill out, nothing special really. We are active all the time so when we are at home, we like to chill and be lazy.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Hopefully I will have done another Olympics. That is what I’ll aim for.
WE WENT TO Surfers Paradise foreshore, Gold Coast.
WE ATE Mini friands; Bircher muesli; smoked salmon roulade.
WE DRANK English Breakfast tea.
ZARA WORE R.M. Williams shirt, Country Road jeans and Calleija jewellery.
Dita Von Teese made a name for herself wearing racy lingerie during her shows as a burlesque dancer, so it’s no wonder she was in Australia to launch her own range of sexy underwear, exclusive to Myer. I caught up with the 41-year-old while she was in town to chat about how she maintains her porcelain skin, her hopes to one day start a family and how retirement is not on her agenda.
When you go through customs, do you put ”burlesque dancer” as your occupation?
No, [laughs] I try to tell the truth but I try and be as low-key as possible. I usually say ”entertainer” or ”dancer” and hope they won’t ask what that means. When people ask me what I do I get very shy about it. I was sitting next to Beyonce’s father once on a plane, and I know Beyonce, and I’m sitting there minding my own business and all the flight attendants were coming over to tell me how much they like me, and I was dressed up like I always am, and he finally was like “who are you and what do you do?” and I was like “well, I don’t know if you remember your daughter when she did a video clip [for her song Naughty Girl] in a giant champagne glass, that is what I do every day, that is my job”. Sometimes I just cut to the chase and say “I’m a stripper” and they get so confused that I am a striptease star and how anyone can make a living out of that, and I get a lot of joy from people trying to figure it out.
How do you prepare for your shows?
In the weeks before, I bump up my workouts. I’m a little bit more careful about what I eat, not so much for how I look but for how I feel as I need to feel really strong. But I’m careful not to get too thin – looking too thin on stage with burlesque is a big faux pas.
How do you stay fit?
I do a lot of Pilates and I also take ballet classes. I do dressage and I just started fencing, which I’m very interested in.
Do you get annoyed at the imitators and people copying your shows?
It depends where it’s coming from. I get annoyed with people who are just doing it for profit. I’m very joyful when girls are embracing burlesque, but at the same time there are people who will copy my show exactly. I have had lawsuits with people who have completely ripped off [my show] for profit and I’ll stand up for myself when someone is interfering with my business.
What is the strangest thing a fan has done?
I don’t like to use the word strange because I have great fans. But I do get letters from prison that I really do enjoy and I think, “wow, this is old school to be a burlesque pin-up and get a letter from prison”.
What are you doing while in Australia?
I am here to launch my lingerie collection in Myer so it’s really exciting. I got my start working in a lingerie store when I was 15 and so my love of lingerie is what led me to my love of pin-up photos and burlesque shows, so it’s really interesting to come a full circle.
You are a sex symbol to many men, what do you find sexy in a man?
I think it’s really important to be around men who have their own sense of self and own self-worth. I find that some of my best relationships with men are [with those] who understand me and what I do. They want to know Heather Sweet from Michigan [her real name and home town], but they understand that it’s not a dual persona, it’s not Dita Von Teese and Heather Sweet. Everything that I do on stage is a part of who I am. It’s not like two personalities and sometimes men are so quick to want to dismiss the stage persona. I’ve dated men who have not wanted to see my stage show and I’m like “how can you not want to see my show?”
Have you got a man in your life?
I’m casual dating. I am at this amazing moment where I’m on second dates with several different men. I’ve always been a serial monogamist, in relationship after relationship, and right now I feel that I don’t just want to have boyfriends any more. I want to date and keep it casual until it blows the doors off my life and think “this is the man I want to be with forever”.
Do you hope to one day get married and start a family?
Yes, I would definitely love to be married [she was married to rocker Marilyn Manson from 2005 to 2007] and I definitely would like to have a child but it’s really interesting, as women we are told “go, go, go, career, career, career” and then suddenly you go “wait, no one warned me that I should kind of think about, you know”.
Will you ever retire?
I think of evolution a lot. There are things that I would never do in my show, the way that I did back when I first started. I now want to feel womanly and there are shows that get retired because they seem a little girlish now, so it’s important to always evolve. Some of the greatest burlesque dancers in history were not the youngest, the prettiest or the best dancer, sometimes it’s something else and it’s a lot to do with intelligence and sense of self. Sally Rand performed well into her 60s but in a different way. When people rely too much on their beauty and youth you have nothing when that’s gone, so you have to keep cultivating all the other things that make you interesting.
You have amazing skin, how do you maintain it?
Sunscreen, no smoking, I drink this thing called the glowing green smoothie every morning, by this nutritionist called Kimberly Snyder. She has this book called The Beauty Detox Foods and I follow that regime as best as I can. The smoothie is 70 per cent green and 30 per cent fruit, so I put in spinach, ginger, coriander and add fruit.
WE WENT TO Quay Restaurant, The Rocks.
WE ATE Salad of albino and chioggia beetroots, preserved wild cherries, goat’s curd; organic Korean green rice, seaweed, buckwheat, mountain spinach and sesame; milk-fed Suffolk lamb with green lentils.
WE DRANK Sparkling water, Sancerre Terre de Maimbray 2011.
I WORE a LOVER dress
For video footage of our interview see smh.com.au
Havana Brown was famous as a DJ but made her debut as a recording artist in 2011 with We Run the Night (feat. Pitbull), which went triple platinum in Australia. After it was reworked by US producer RedOne, the single sold 2.5 million copies around the world. I caught up with the 28-year-old to chat about her first studio album, Flashing Lights, her on-stage persona and the best advice Pitbull gave her.
Tell me about your album.
It’s my first album so I’m really excited about it. I definitely had a different mentality when I first started. I thought, ”Just put out songs”, but this is my official debut album. There is club/pop [sound] and you’ll find quirkiness and fun.
Did you always want to be a singer?
Before I was a DJ, I was a singer signed to a record label in the UK, so that definitely was a part of my life. Then I started on my DJ’ing and that took off and I was concentrating on that for many years, but it was always part of the plan.
Are you an outgoing person or do you have an on-stage persona?
I’m definitely more outgoing on stage than I am in real life; I think Havana Brown is a lot more confident than Angelique [Meunier] – that is my real name. Havana Brown is actually a breed of cat. I love my name, Angelique, but it’s just too pretty and not the right name for the person that I think I am on stage. There is something about cats; they know exactly what they want and they know how to get it and I wanted that sort of mentality when it came to my career.
Did you feel like you had to prove yourself as a singer within the music industry?
I thought I would have to. People probably still see me as a DJ and that is not a problem, but I thought when I first came out with We Run The Night that people might be a bit more shocked than they actually were. I thought they would be like, ”What is she doing?”, but they were very responsive to it. I felt like I was performing when I was DJ’ing because I would come out and be very energetic on stage anyway, so I felt like it was the next step.
You’ve been on tour with so many talented artists. Do you have a favourite?
I’ve worked with Lady Gaga, Pitbull, Britney Spears, Pussy Cat Dolls, Enrique Iglesias, Chris Brown and Rihanna. I like Latinos – they’re so much fun to be around, very down to earth and very generous people. Enrique probably doesn’t party as much as Pitbull but he definitely knows how to have fun; he plays pranks on everyone. You have to keep your phone away from him because he’ll send really crude texts to random people in your phone and he deletes the message so you never know what he has actually sent!
Do you keep in contact with any of them?
Whenever I see Enrique we catch up and have a good yarn but I speak to Pitbull all the time. He helps me out and gives me advice whenever he can.
What is the best advice he’s given you?
One thing I learnt was to never forget what you are doing this for. When you start out in the music industry, it’s your dream to be on stage performing in front of thousands of people, but when you’re there you forget and get too stressed out and forget to enjoy it. He taught me to enjoy that moment.
Who inspires you?
I love Janet Jackson; she inspired me the most growing up. I love people who dance, sing and put on a show and she is the best at doing that. Her performances were very strong but very sexy at the same time.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to be doing what I love still. I hope I’m not looking back at this moment and going, ‘Oh, that was a good time’ … I want that to be a good time, too!
WE WENT TO Nick’s Bar and Grill, King Street Wharf
WE ATE breads and dip; grilled barramundi and grilled John Dory fillets with salad
WE DRANK sparkling water, Stonefish sauvignon blanc and Evans and Tate chardonnay
I WORE a LOVER top, Josh Goot skirt and Isabel Marant boots
HAVANA WORE American Apparel
Photography: Tamara Dean
Dan Aykroyd’s career spans three decades. He is best known for his roles in The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters and Driving Miss Daisy, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor. The Canadian was in Australia last week to promote Crystal Head Vodka, part of the portfolio of Aykroyd’s Patron Spirits Company. I caught up with him to chat about how he prepares for a role, owning his own island to escape fans and his hopes of working with Baz Luhrmann.
Have you been to Australia before?
This is my first time. I’m a hermitic Canadian so I don’t go too far from home.
Out of all your films, do you have a favourite?
My favourite to work on was Blues Brothers because we got to sing, play an instrument, wreck cars, produce, write, act. I have never had more of a complete multi-tasking film in my life.
How do you prepare for a role?
I am of the school of coming in the make-up chair in the morning and learning the script then, because if I learn it the night before I am going to be running it in my head, and it’s best to do it cold for the director and let him or her tune the performance. So I don’t do much preparation at all.
Do you do anything to get into the character?
Not really. I am not that school at all. I turn it on and off – and maybe the work shows that! (Laughs.)
I loved the movie Trading Places. If you could trade places with anyone, who would it be?
I don’t know … There is no one out there that I would like to be in his or her shoes. I think it would be a step down for me to trade with someone else! (Laughs.)
How do you cope with being recognised around the world?
When people come up to me and it’s their special moment, I want to make it special for them. It’s almost like you are a faith healer and you want to give your energy to them. And you know, I like people, so it’s not a problem for me.
Do you have any off-limits times?
Yes, I usually ask them to wait until after the meal. Everyone always wants a picture with their cell phone, so that is something we deal with … But let me put it this way: I own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, so I will get on that if I want to be alone. And I have my own island in Canada … and believe me, there is nothing on there except an Airstream trailer and a camp fire. I go there when I want to be alone.
If you hadn’t gone down that path of acting, what would you be doing today?
I would probably have gone into the corrections business because it’s fascinating, the physiology of the deviant mind and how to correct it or deal with it. I would have built a good career as a really cool prison warden, with more in common with the inmates! (Laughs.)
What is the funniest rumour you have read about yourself?
When Donna and I were married there was a piece in The [National] Enquirer that [said] I took her to [John Belushi’s] grave, we ate chicken, drank whiskey and went looking for UFOs. Well, that wasn’t true … that night! (Laughs.)
You have worked with so many amazing people. Is there anyone you hope to work with in future?
I would like to work with your director Baz Luhrmann – I am a big fan of his, and I thought his Gatsby take was brilliant.
What do you do for fun?
I like to watch movies with my family and we take trips where we travel a lot by car together … Mainly fun for me is being with my family.
Do you have a secret talent?
I am an expert in cleaning out drawers and making them neat! I also like mowing my lawn … It’s very zen to go back and forth.
WE WENT TO Nomad, Surry Hills.
WE ATE Snapper tartare with lemon and saffron crackers; Nomad charcuterie selection.
I WORE Dion Lee.
WE DRANK Crystal Head Vodka martini and cosmopolitan.
Photo: Wolter Peeters
George Calombaris is one of the most recognised culinary figures in Australia. He is a judge on MasterChef, which has just finished its fifth season, and owns several top restaurants in Melbourne – including his highly regarded flagship, The Press Club – and Greece. I caught up with the 34-year-old to talk about where his priorities lie, how he juggles it all and how he hates to cook at home.
What are you up to at the moment?
Last week I was in Italy and this week I am in Dubai. MasterChef gets aired in 52 countries so I get to travel a lot. And it’s given me the opportunity to do what I do on a global scale.
You’ve had five people in the last 10 minutes ask for your photo in Dubai. Do you get recognised all around the world?
Yes, it’s incredible; you do have to pinch yourself. I will always respect the fact that someone has come to say hello and give them that minute because I just think they never asked you to be on TV, you have put yourself there and you’ve got a responsibility. Doesn’t matter how grumpy you are or how pissed off you are about something; you have got to be nice to them and show them that respect.
With all the things you do – restaurants, TV, books – where do your priorities lie?
My restaurants, 100 per cent. I’m a chef and a restaurateur first and foremost, and I know that I’ve probably got another series [of MasterChef] in me, and then I will just step back solely into the restaurant. I have got this burning ambition to keep driving the restaurant. I want to take The Press Club to another level.
How do you juggle it all with family life?
Sunday for me is family day; no one gets in front of Sundays. [My kids] are young, James is two but he comes to the restaurant with me now. He is going to be part of the furniture, he has no choice. And, look, will he become a restaurateur or a chef? I don’t care, that doesn’t bother me, but what I do know is that the restaurant will teach him life skills and I think that is so important, especially in this day and age … Everyone is caught up with computers and phones. If anything, I will be his teacher.
When you are at home do you share the cooking responsibilities or do you take over in the kitchen?
No, I hate cooking at home! I find it so domestic. It would be like giving Michael Schumacher my car and race around the formula one track, it’s not going to work. It’s the last thing I want to do. Don’t get me wrong, if I need to cook something for the kids, there is no problem. But it’s the simple stuff – a toasted cheese sandwich.
What’s the best part about your job?
It’s the instant gratification, it’s the idea that I can put something on a plate, on a canvas, and see if someone likes it or they don’t. My friend who is a barrister said once, ”I now know why you love your job so much. I love my job but it can take me three months to get through a case, and we will lose and you will be demoralised, but you know if the customer likes it or they don’t then and there.” And if they don’t, you can work to fix it or you hang your hat on it and believe in it.
What do you do when someone dislikes a dish in your restaurant? Do you fix it or hang your hat on it?
It depends. It’s a bit like when a sommelier pops a bottle of wine and pours it – you quaff the wine to smell if it’s corked, but, apart from that, I’ve bought the wine, I’m not tasting it to see if I like it! It’s the same with the food. I don’t care if they don’t like it because of the flavour – they have ordered it from the menu – but I will fix it if there is a problem technically.
Are you one of those chefs who gets upset when customers cover their meal in additional flavouring?
No! It’s like if someone wants a well-done steak, I’ve got no issue. I was in Florence and asked for a steak Florentine medium and the waiter said, ”No, you eat it medium/rare”. I’m like ”OK cool, he knows best”. But I hated it … and I thought, ”Why didn’t I stick to what I like?”
If you were to die tomorrow, what would be your last meal?
It would have to be things that mean something to me, that have nostalgia or a childhood memory linked to it. It would definitely include my mum’s egg and lemon soup.
What are your favourite restaurants, aside from your own?
I love Billy Kwong’s and Porteno in Sydney, and in Melbourne I love MoVida and Cumulus Inc.
WE WENT TO Atlantis The Palm, Dubai.
WE ATE A selection of fruit and pastries.
WE DRANK English breakfast tea and a cappuccino.
I WORE A Camilla and Marc dress.
TV presenter Sally Obermeder is the co-host of Channel Seven’s afternoon show The Daily Edition, as well as author of best-selling book Never Stop Believing, in which she shares her courageous battle with cancer. Obermeder was announced as the new style ambassador for Westfield and is set to compete in this season’s series of Dancing with the Stars. I caught up with the 40-year-old to chat about how she juggles it all, how overcoming her cancer battle has changed her perspective on life, and how sharing her story has inspired others to never give up.
What are you up to?
I’m juggling so much at the moment: The Daily Edition, I have Dancing with the Stars training, my blog Swiish, I am the new style ambassador for Westfield, where my job is to guide women on trends and fashion tips and tricks, and of course [my daughter] Annabelle. Some days I feel like a rock star and feel I can do anything, but it’s short-lived when I realise that I’ve forgotten to get dinner (laughs).
You have a crazy schedule.
Yes, at the moment it’s busy. It was busy before but Dancing has taken it to another level because I have no rhythm – I’m out of my depth.
What attracted you to Dancing with the Stars?
I just wanted to push myself. I think after being sick I just wanted to challenge myself and see if I could do something physical again. It had been so long, my body has been through so much, and I wanted to see if my body could.
What made you start your lifestyle blog swiish.com.au?
When I was sick I really wanted to have my own blog about things that I love. I am the person who will be wearing a belt from Target, and as much as I love to have a Chanel bag, that’s an anomaly in my wardrobe. Everything else is Zara, Witchery and Portmans. That’s really what I am about: affordable, and having it still look great. So that’s why I started Swiish. It’s been almost nine months now and we are at almost 1 million impressions a month. My sister works on it full-time and then we have eight staff. It’s an amazing team.
How do you juggle it all?
I try to not beat myself up about things and go: ”Yes, you didn’t manage to make dinner; you had takeaway. Yes, you didn’t do your exercise. Yes, you were late to your appointments, but it’s OK. Has anyone died today? No, it’s all good!”
It’s fantastic to see you doing so well.
Yes, I feel really blessed and really grateful but mostly I’m grateful for good health. Every day I just go, ”Thank you.” It puts life into perspective. Suddenly, everything is very simple. It’s good that everything is going well, but you realise that these are just the bonuses in life; the cream on top. Everything could change in a second if you or your family were sick.
What sort of positive message would you give to someone who was about to embark on the same journey you had [to go on] with your illness?
I would say that there is no guidebook, there are no instructions. Just be kind to yourself and do whatever it is you need to do to get through each stage. It’s OK to lean on people, it’s OK to ask for help, it’s OK to break down. But the most important thing is to not give up. It’s never over until it’s over.
Have you found the response to your book to be overwhelming?
It blew me away. Especially because it’s not just a book for someone who had cancer. It’s a book for anyone who has ever struggled and about getting what you want in your life. Sometimes I walk down the street and people stop me and pull the book out of their bag, and it amazes me because you always think no one will read it – except your mum.
Does a particular story stand out about your book inspiring others to keep going?
We get hundred of letters every single day. I think my personal favourite is from people who plan to give up, people who say: ”I can’t do any more treatment; it’s too hard,” and then they read the book and they go, ”OK, don’t give up.” It was painful to write the book, but that makes it worth it.
What made you never give up?
Annabelle, I think. It’s hard to imagine having a brand-new baby and leaving her with no one, and that was the biggest motivator of all. And, of course, my family.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope we have another child. I hope Swiish will still be going and hopefully I’m still on TV. But as long as I am healthy, it’s all good.
WE WENT TO The Tea Salon, Westfield Sydney, the city.
WE ATE Classic high tea.
WE DRANK English breakfast tea and herbal tea.
SALLY WORE A Zara jacket, Willow top, Forever New pants and Tony Bianco heels.
Photo: Ben Rushton
Australian actor Melanie Vallejo is best known for portraying Sophie Wong in the television series Winners & Losers, which reaches its season finale this week. I caught up with the 33-year-old to chat about the show, awkward scenes and her physical fear of stage fright.
What is a typical day for you?
A typical day is a 5am wake-up to be in the make-up chair at 5.45am to look beautiful. It takes a lot of work – clearly! We shoot all day until about 6.15pm. They are pretty long days but there is a lot of waiting around, which I think is the thing that makes you more tired. Then I go home, see my husband, cook dinner – like a good wife (laughs) – and then I go to bed early and do it all over again.
It looks like a fun show to be part of.
It is a very fun show to be part of. There is lots of laughing, which (makes it) hard sometimes when we have to do dramatic things. Tom Wren (who plays Doug Graham) is now a really good mate of mine and because we had a love story for so many years, I think, ”I can’t do that with you any more – he is like my brother!” All that onscreen lovemaking and kissing and stuff is so awkward for an actor.
What has been the most awkward scene you have done?
The most awkward thing was my first day on set, when I hadn’t met any of the crew, and for the first episode in the big print it said: ”Sophie is topless”. Anything to do with nudity is always going to be awkward, but I had sticky things on my boobs and I didn’t know Tom and he was like, ”Hello, nice to meet you.” The director said, ”You just have to ride him for a couple of minutes and hop off,” and I was like, ”This is what I have to do for the three years!” That was my first introduction to Winners & Losers. When you are in the middle of it, you are thinking, ”I’m getting paid to do this. This is not normal. I’m married. What’s going on?”
How does your husband react to your onscreen love scenes?
He is pretty good with it but I think it’s always going to be weird, and I think it always helps that he knows Tom very well and I know Tom’s wife. We are all friends, so I think, strangely, that actually makes it easier, because there is a lot of trust involved. But it’s such a strange thing to do; I don’t know anyone who enjoys it.
Are you anything like your character Sophie?
I don’t think so, especially not in the first series. She was like the crazy, wild one, super disorganised and super messy, and I think I’m pretty much the opposite to that. But then I think after playing the same character for three years, the lines do blur a bit, and I don’t know if I just subconsciously turn more into someone like me. I certainly implement how she dresses.
In what way?
In the first series I was wearing a lot of short skirts and she was just – how would you say it nicely – Sophie was a little bit wild. So she would wear lots of revealing clothes, which I was not a big fan of, and then progressively I’ve noticed now Sophie just kind of dresses like me, which is awesome. It’s ultimately up to the costume designer, but when you have a whole rack of clothes, I just quietly suggest that I like pencil skirts as opposed to short skirts.
When your fans meet you, do they expect you to be just like your character?
All the time, it’s very strange. People always call me Sophie. People always say I’m much shorter and much prettier in real life and I always think: ”Is that a compliment or not?”
What is the strangest thing someone has said to you?
For my first big job I was a Power Ranger, so there was a lot of weird fans from that. I would get a lot of fan mail from all over the world because it’s such a big show and I would get sent figurines of myself. It’s weird.
If you didn’t become an actor, what career path would you have chosen?
I never really wanted to do anything else, I really don’t know. I have lots of interests. I’m obsessed with interior design and fashion, so I could imagine doing that, or being an artist.
Do you have a secret talent?
I can sing. All four of us (from Winners & Loser) will often sing on set like a four-part harmony. So you never know, there might be a Winners & Losers – The Musical. The poor crew have to listen to us sing all the time.
Did you ever think about becoming a singer?
No. I really like it but I get really bad stage fright. Not with acting, but with singing – like physical fear.
The season finale of Winners & Losers is on Tuesday and Wednesday at 8.30pm on Channel Seven.
WE WENT TO The Botanist, Kirribilli.
WE ATE Halloumi salad and chilli chicken tacos with lettuce, onion, sour cream, tomato and black beans.
WE DRANK Sparkling water.
I WORE A Dion Lee top.
MELANIE WORE Thurley jumpsuit and Versace heels.
Photo: Wolter Peeters