Shortland Street star Anna Henare became so obsessed playing the cop chasing the Ferndale strangler she had dreams about finding dead bodies in her closet.
Anna, who played detective inspector Lara Wade in the popular TV2 soap, had a frantic six months filming the hunt for the serial killer.
In preparation for her role Anna spoke to real police officers and spent hours on the internet doing research into grisly cases.
"I had nightmares," Anna told Sunday News.
"When you're sat up in in bed and reading all this stuff about serial killers, you end up dreaming about them.
"But that's what happens with Shortland Street you get sucked in.
"It was fun but it takes over your life."
More than 640,000 viewers tuned into Shortland Street last week to watch likeable nurse Joey Henderson played by Johnny Barker kill himself.
But before he was tracked down by Lara, Johnny killed six women, attacked two others and kidnapped fellow nurse Alice Piper before performing an appendectomy on her.
Anna loved being part of such a high-octane plot but admits she was jealous of Johnny's dramatic exit from the show.
"When Johnny got the harness on and was leaping off a building I was thinking `I want to do that'," said the 31-year-old.
"Personally, I'd have liked Lara to have been stabbed."
Anna, who was born in Dunedin, won the role in Shortland Street when she returned home from 10 years overseas during which she studied acting in Seattle, US.
With a background in theatre but with no previous television work, she found the massive exposure from the show overwhelming.
"I got random people on the street coming up to me, asking when I was going to catch the serial killer.
"Heaps of taxi drivers would claim they never watched the show but go on to analyse the plot," she said.
"Then these little girls would come up to me and start talking about Joey with this lovelorn look in their eyes.
"It was tough not telling anyone who the killer was, so I'd make stuff up.
"There was a time when I was telling everyone it was me."
Now Anna has got a taste for packing a pistol, she is keen to get involved in an action movie.
And she's poised to start learning martial arts.
She'd also love a role in Outrageous Fortune but is concentrating on her part in the farce Moonlight and Magnolias, which opens at Dunedin's Festival Theatre on April 1.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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