Since she first galloped into our hearts as Megan on The Saddle Club in 2001, we’ve watched Sophie Hensser grow up on our TV screens.
From star turns on Home and Away, to All Saints, Underbelly and Tricky Business, Sophie has blossomed into one of Australia’s most recognised and loved actresses.
But it’s playing Viv Maguire on the last three seasons of Love Child that’s got us shouting her name from the rooftops!
To celebrate the release of Love Child Season 3 on DVD (out now), we caught up with the down-to-earth star during a rare moment away from the set of Australia’s most popular drama.
Congrats on a stellar season as Vivian. Is she your favourite role yet?
Thank you, we’re very proud of it and it has truly been such a special experience making this show. I couldn’t pick a favourite role as every character I have the opportunity to play brings new discoveries, not only about each character but about myself as well. In saying that, Viv certainly holds a very special place in my heart as she is the first character I have gotten to play for three seasons on a series, so I have been very lucky in that I’ve been given the opportunity to continue to develop her and tell her story. I have so much fun playing Viv as she is young, cheeky and so full of life and just wants to do the best that she can for her friends, and for her family. This season I got to explore the relationship Viv has with her twins after making the heartbreaking decision to find a loving family that could raise them, in a way that she wasn’t capable of during that time and at her age. We also see Viv travelling to Vietnam to find her brother and ending up trying to adopt his son. It was a huge season for Viv and I feel honoured to have gotten to tell her story once again; plus I got to work with some of my closest friends again which is always a plus.
What were your thoughts on the role when you first read the script?
I read the first episode of Love Child in the waiting room at Mullinars Casting as they weren’t releasing the script yet, right before my audition for Viv. I knew straight away that this character was unlike any I had auditioned for before, and this show was going to be something truly unique and unlike anything we had seen on Australian screens. I fell in love with the story and knew that this was someone I had to play, and a story that needed to be told. Before reading the script I was completely ignorant to the issue of forced adoption during the 60’s to early 80’s, and Sarah Lambert had written a powerful script inspired by what happened during that time. I was also so excited about the prospect of a show that was based around such strong women.
Congrats also on A History of Falling Things. Do you prefer stage or screen?
Thank you. We had a wonderful season and audiences really seemed to respond to the play. It was my first time back on stage in over a year so I had an absolute blast. The cast was a dream, as was our wonderful director Nikki Buffoni. I can’t compare screen and stage as they are both such different mediums; though I really enjoy the creative process of rehearsing a play and having a few weeks to pick each scene apart, discovering the many layers of the story and of who these people are, the time is something you just don’t get in television as it moves so quickly. The element of having a live audience is equally challenging and exciting, the fact that the same play can come alive in such different ways every performance is something you don’t get on screen as you are shooting small increments of a script incredibly quickly you only get a few chances to get it right; with theatre you have weeks to perfect a performance, and often two weeks after closing night you feel like you just figured out how you should have played a certain scene. It’s often frustrating, but also a lot of fun.
What influence did your mum have on your acting career?
My mum [A Country Practice star Wendy Strehlow] is my greatest teacher. I used to tag along to all of her classes as kid until she enrolled me in classes with children my own age. People used to ask me if I was going to be an actress like my mum and she would always respond “No” on my behalf, she wanted me to act if I wanted to but always stressed that I received a good education and went to university to have as many opportunities as I could. She pulled me out of the TV show Saddle Club after one season and made sure I went to high school and really just took the time to have a proper schooling experience. I thank her now but at the time I wasn’t as understanding! Today she helps me with every audition, reading lines and helping me with self-tapes; she’s a champion.
Any thoughts on trying your luck in Hollywood?
I’ve been to the states a few times. I have management over there and they send me through a lot of US stuff and I self-tape from here. A lot of actors choose to relocate to LA for pilot season or longer. At this point Australia is my home and if something were to come up that took me there I would go for it, but I love working here and telling Australian stories as well.
Reports suggest you’re set to marry long-term partner Danny Bloom later this year. Can you confirm wedding plans?
We are getting hitched and are very happy. We’ve known each other for a long time and he took me out on a date nearly seven years ago and we’ve never looked back. He is most definitely not in the biz. He’ll be the first to tell you he excelled at year 9 and 10 drama, but these days he has a chain of retail stores, children’s toy shops, called Toymate. It helps having different passions and interests. We excel in different areas and challenge and support each other in different ways; though he hates it when I ask him to read lines with me for an audition.
Lastly, we’re big on health and beauty at The Carousel. Can you share your regime?
I have no regular regime. I try to go to the gym and eat well but I am also a huge lover of food so my life is a constant struggle for balance, but over all I eat a mainly vegetarian diet with fish and bit of chicken; a waiter once called me a poultra-pescitarian so there’s that. I love Pilates and barre, and have just started trying to do some light weights (stay tuned for these guns). My mother always taught me take your make up off before bed, no matter how much wine you’ve drunk! I try to use natural products on my face, and am big on oils. I love anything hydrating as my skin tends to be quite dry.