Talking with Tandi
Actor Tandi Wright plays New Zealand's own desperate housewife
in TV ONE's new local drama This Is Not My Life, a woman who
craves her husband's love and family stability and instead finds
herself living with a man who doesn't recognises her or their
Callie Ross thinks husband Alec (Charles Mesure) has had an accident, fallen from a stepladder in their garage, hit his head and has amnesia. She's troubled he can't remember her or the kids, but she's sure that their local Wellness centre will sort him out.
"For Callie, Alec is the centre of her world," says Tandi. "She wants to be loved, he is everything to her and she would do anything to please him and to protect her family. She's quite a tiger in that respect. She's concerned that he can't remember her. That's not good for anyone's self esteem - how could you really completely forget the love of your life?"
"Callie's not just desperate, she's not just a housewife, she is both of those things. But she's so much more. And as an actor, you can't play a cliché, you have to play a real person and hopefully as long as what you're playing is truthful to you, that's when you can explore things."
This Is Not My Life is one of Tandi's first television roles after her Qantas TV & Film Awards Supporting Actress nomination for her performance in the feature film Out Of The Blue and after the birth of her daughter. In the fast-paced drama, she plays opposite Charles Mesure, an actor she has worked with before, on productions such as Street Legal.
"Charles, I have to say, has been fantastic in this. His work load is unbelievable, extraordinary. He's in every scene. He is so prepared, generous and incisive. I think we were really lucky because we've worked together in the past and so it was really nice to come to this with that shared history. You don't have to get to know each other, you just start in, boom, and he's been amazing. He has this very strong charismatic, strongly male presence - macho presence - and it's just so lovely to play off. There's a real solidity there but it's not overwhelming, it's very inclusive and we play together very easily."
In a story set in New Zealand the day after tomorrow, Tandi is impressed by the world series creators Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang have created.
"The clever thing about This Is Not My Life is that the world is not ours but it's so recognisable. It's just got that slight remove - it mirrors parts of society now in quite clever little ways. I like the idea about memory and how important memory is to the individual. If your memories were replaced entirely with someone else's memories would you be a different person? Is it possible to change like that? At the same time, it's about identity and who you are. The two things are so closely linked - does your memory make you 'you', and what if someone were to play with that? Are you someone else?"
And Callie doesn't want to ask the questions or know the answers - for her, with her dreams of married bliss and family security, it's far better to be happy than to uncover an unsettling truth.
Can Callie get Alec back to normal and get their lives back on track? Can she ignore the way Alec is behaving and the questions he is asking about Waimoana?