TV & Radio
Ula Levi is all grown up and it could not have come soon enough for Frankie Adams, the actress who plays the ambulance medic on Shortland Street.
Frankie, 20, says it was time she and Ula left teenage angst behind.
"It got a bit tiring at times, to be a grumpy teenager when I wasn't," Frankie says. "I wouldn't really want to be a 20 year old playing a 16-year-old girl, you know, so it's kind of cool that they've grown her (Ula) up with me.
"I think she's in a bit of a transition period. She's kind of getting a bit sexier and her parents are not a big part of her life any more... She drinks and has sex and stuff - things that adults do.
"Even a couple of years ago my character would not have been doing any of that stuff without it being a big drama."
It is almost inevitable then that Ula, whose 'grumpy period' included giving birth to a baby boy who was later adopted out, caught the attention of new doctor and already notorious flirt Garrett Whitley (Spencer Falls).
"I knew something was coming up because I was like, 'There is no way they are going to keep my character single for so long'," Frankie says.
"It's been cool because it's a way for me to explore playing a little bit more sexy. I really like the way they've written the Garrett/Ula relationship. She's kind of playing hard to get, which is fun for me to play, rather than being the one that's chasing after him."
Although he has appeared to be nothing more than a ladies' man so far, Spencer Falls says his character Garrett has honourable intentions when it comes to Ula.
"He's honestly a hopeless romantic really, but he's also a bit of a lady killer," Spencer says. "He's kind of a serial monogamist. Although he loves to flirt and be around all types of women, he really does want a relationship. Whether or not he falls in love with Ula right away, I think that is potentially going to happen."
But how similar is Spencer to the flirtatious Garrett?
Frankie does not mind spilling the beans on Spencer's real-life antics.
"Spencer is cool, he's totally chilled," Frankie says. "We have mutual friends and we all hang out and stuff so we get along. But he loves the ladies and the ladies love him too. That's a similarity that he has with his character. You should see the ladies in real life. It's crazy. They drool over him."
"Why is she telling people this?" Spencer laughs. "You know what, I can't deny it. It's the truth. I love women and that's cool.
"But you know I appreciate women. They're awesome. I really relate to women and I enjoy their company."
After only months on the Kiwi drama, Spencer is pleased he has his first romantic storyline so soon.
"I think that on a show like this every character has a love interest," he says, "and I think that Garrett and Ula are well suited in terms of the opposites attract kind of thing. Especially because she's such a strong character and Garrett knows she can handle some of his more, I don't like to say controversial, but it's something that potentially might be out of line. She takes it and gives it right back and Garrett loves it."
But when it comes to TV drama, the course of love never runs smoothly. Spencer hints there could be trouble in the couple's future.
"Certainly some of the darker stuff that is (coming up) for him, I didn't know it was going to happen," Spencer says. "When things come up and he deals with more hectic stuff, I can't say what, it kind of throws you and makes you reassess who
he is. I'm experiencing that for the
first time because he was this happy-go-lucky guy and all this stuff happens and you see that darker side of him."
After four years on the show, Frankie knows full well the strange places storylines can take the actors and says it is always challenging.
"It's never easy but it's definitely easier than it used to be," Frankie says. "I've done so many crazy things on this show."
- TV Guide