Kiwi star takes step into unknown from TV's Rafters

Last updated 05:00 02/07/2013
Hannah Marshall
HANNAH MARSHALL: Securing the role of Loretta Schembri-Karandonis was life changing for the young actress.

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While we've still got a season of the Rafters to look forward to, Australians are tonight facing up to the departure of one of their most beloved ensemble dramas. A regular since season three, former Shortland Street star Hannah Marshall spoke to us about her time as Loretta "Retta" Schembri-Karandonis.

How did you land the part of Retta?

It was one of the first auditions I'd had in Australia and it was a long process. I think it was six or seven actual auditions before I got the role which to be honest I never really entertained the idea of getting because I was unknown in Australia. It was a massive stroke of luck and because of it everything has changed in my life. I was super nervous because it is such a widely loved show and I didn't want to let anyone down. But I turned that into a great learning experience because you soon just focus on the work.

Have you had much say in the development of the character?

When I started, there was quite a strong plan for where she was going but the longer I was on the show the more we began collaborating with the writers before each season. We talked about where the character was going and what we wanted to explore, and to their credit they were open to ideas. Her look changed quite dramatically between seasons three and four because we were finding out who this person was. George (Houvardas, who plays her onscreen husband Carbo) and I were keen to give these characters layers and not just make them two-dimensional. The writers kind of took that and ran with it - that was amazing.

You have a background in gymnastics. Have any of the skills you learned there been helpful in your acting career?

I used to think there weren't any similarities, but then when you break down there are aspects of discipline, focus and performance in both. So I guess without realising it the skills I learned at gym have probably influenced me. I was like 10, though.

Why do you think the show has been such a success?

It has people who you can relate to and it tries to explore relevant and pertinent issues, while bringing in humour.

It's got a really good mix of real human drama and a bit of escapism, plus it's got a lot of heart.

Filming on the sixth and likely final series wrapped at Christmas time, was it hard to say goodbye?

It was a weird feeling. Obviously it was very sad that it all might be wrapping up and we knew the storylines had a sense of finality. But now there's talk of various spin-offs and mini-series so we don't know what the future holds.

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What about Hannah Marshall's future? What are you up to at the moment?

I've just finished a movie in the South Australian outback called The Infinite Man. It's a time-travelling comedy romance and I had so much fun doing that. I got to play a different sort of character and it was my first feature. I've also filmed a short film so it's been quite a whirlwind, now is the first chance I've had to have a breather so I'll just sort of see what might come up next. That's the life of an actor.

Packed To The Rafters, 8.30pm, Sunday, TV One.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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