How Being A Mum Helped Aussie Star Play Ruthless Murderer

How Being A Mum Helped Aussie Star Play Ruthless Murderer1
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Aug 22, 2016

Adelaide-raised actress Genevieve O’Reilly laughed when she heard that Hollywood once called her the next Cate Blanchett.

Despite a CV that includes everything from Stars Wars to the Matrix and playing the lead in TV’s Diana: The Last Days of A Princess, Genevieve, now 39, says she happy just to be still working!

Genevieve, 39, is being modest, of course.

Since relocating back to the UK with her chiropractor husband a decade ago, the mother-of-two has been more in demand than ever.

She’s back on Australian screens as the co-star of the top-rated British crime drama The Secret, streaming now on SBS On Demand, and as a four-part series on SBS from September 7.

How Being A Mum Helped Aussie Star Play Ruthless Murderer2

The Secret tells the chilling true tale of dentist Colin Howell (James Nesbitt) and his lover Hazel Buchanan, played by Genevieve.

Their affair leads to Howell murdering both his wife and Buchanan’s husband.

The couple, who met at their local Baptist church in the Northern Irish town of Coleraine, came up with an elaborate plot to kill their spouses – whose bodies were found in a fume-filled car in what initially appeared to be a suicide pact.

The Carousel caught up with London-based Genevieve for an insight into how she prepared for the role that has UK critics raving.

Would you have met with Buchanan in jail if the opportunity arose?

I wasn’t aware of the story before I read the script, so I had a bit of catching up to do. I read Deric Henderson’s book (which was a base point for the script) and looked at the pre and post-trial media coverage.

During our pre-production and filming Hazel was still undergoing an appeals process to fight her conviction (which she subsequently lost).  I felt it would be inappropriate for me to seek a meeting with her.

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What attracted you to the part of such a brutal murderer?

Firstly it is a truly compelling story. At times shocking and unbelievable. I was glad of the type “based on true events” at the front of the script, and reminded of the old adage ‘sometimes fact is stranger than fiction’.

In the media Hazel was portrayed as either a victim of Howell, controlled and abused, or as a Lady Macbeth type, manipulating and conniving.  I was interested in the challenge of finding a woman who could be both and neither. Someone who we might have a coffee with, work with or go for a run with. A woman who raised two loving children.  And a woman who was also undoubtedly complicit in this horrible crime.

Was it easy to switch gears back to being a loving mum when the cameras stopped?

You know that was something that I worried about. Because a character always lives a little in me when I’m working. At times the work was grim, but in actuality I found it a salve to shake it off at the end of each day and walk in the door as no one but Mummy.

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What are three things you miss most about Australia?

My family

Breakfasts by the beach

The Aussie sense of humour

Do you think you’ll make the shift back and let the kids grow up here?

It’s always on the cards!

What team do you support when Ireland plays Australia in rugby?

Whoever’s winning 🙂

Can you share with us your must-have beauty products and how you stay so fit?

I have about 10 Burt’s Bees pomegranate lip balms in various pockets and bags so I always have one close.

I couldn’t have got through my children’s nappy years without Lucas Paw Paw.

My fitness regime is limited to chasing the children and the dog.

But I’d LOVE to go for a walk from Queenscliff to Shelley Beach or Grange Jetty to Henley Beach right now.

  • You can watch The Secret now at SBS On Demand by clicking here. The show airs on SBS main channel from Wednesday, September 7, from 9:30pm.


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