Sally Stockwell plays Lindy, a talented but image-obsessed television presenter whose career was riding high, until an affair with her married co-presenter was exposed in front of 1.5 million viewers.
Now Lindy is 'persona non grata' both at the TV station, and on the street. But she's too ambitious to stay down for long...
As an aspiring actress Sally Stockwell has a lot in common with Lindy, her character on The Insiders Guide to Happiness, particularly the ability to cope with rejection. In fact, Sally believes this has been a core strength she has carried over into this role.
"To be a professional actor you have to be really strong," she explains. "You've got to go through a lot of rejection. To cope with that, you've got to be clear about your ambition. Having a clear idea of what you want is an essential, probably the quintessential thing you need as an actor.
"Lindy is like that. She's an ambitious TV presenter who knows very much what she wants, and what she wants to achieve. She knows she's good at what she does and she's not afraid to say what she thinks. She breaks the rules. She swears. She has a shock factor to her, and a 'f**k it' kind of attitude, which works for her.
"She's also incredibly persistent and has a lot of stamina. And that's also a really good thing in acting. But some of those qualities are also her weaknesses, because she doesn't allow herself to be emotionally affected by things that really matter to her."
It was this depth and complexity that greatly appealed to Sally. She says that Lindy is one of the best, if not the best, role she has had since graduating from drama school nine years ago.
interesting about Lindy is that she's on a very rocky journey right
from the beginning," explains Sally. "We meet her when she's lost
everything. She just continues to plummet until she finds love. But
that love is not an easy, fresh, love. Lindy has to face her
demons, and face cowardice in herself. So things are never
simple for her, which makes for such an interesting
But there were also lighter moments during the four months spent making Insiders Guide - like skinny-dipping in the distinctly less-than-tropical waters of Cooks Strait.
"We did that scene at 11.00 at night and it was freezing!" Sally recalls. "Unfortunately I think it was a southerly or a very bitter cold wind came in at the same time. The crew were in hats and gloves. Mark Beesley [the director] got into the water with us, which was great. I didn't really appreciate that until afterwards, because I was trying to deal with the cold."
"But that was quite a bonding scene for Ben [Ben Barrington] and I, because when you're looking at somebody in a crazy situation like that you can't help but both think 'Can you believe we're here?'"
In a case of 'opposites attract', her character Lindy rekindles her love for William, a compassionate doctor on the series, played by Ben Barrington. Sally enjoyed working with him immensely.
"Ben is very generous, very open, a big softie - so the on-screen romance has been very intimate," she says. "It was great working with somebody who was so willing to try new ideas and play for realism, with as much intensity as we could each time. Especially in the last couple of episodes when Lindy is having to make a choice over being with someone who she loves - probably more than anyone else in the world - and choosing her career, her dream."
Sally's character also has some very poignant scenes in Episode 4 of Insiders Guide, where Lindy, after being fired from the TV station, is forced to take a very 'ordinary' job working in a second-hand bookshop:
"That episode has some lovely vulnerability in it," Sally agrees. "Because that's the point where Lindy's pretty much at the lowest point she could ever really be for somebody of her 'stature'. Someone who's famous, who has had public adoration but who had overstepped her mark because she was so cocky.
"Lindy loses her finances and her credibility. She loses any kind of support from anyone, so she resorts to taking what would have been for her the most boring, depressing job ever! But through that she eventually finds somebody who knows something about what she battles with."
"Emotionally she's brave when she gets to that stage in her journey. She faces up to herself because she has to. She has to talk to herself in an honest way in order to survive, and keep surviving."
When if comes to describing The Insiders Guide to Happiness, Sally says that it's about a cross section of different people who unexpectedly come into contact, and how they irrevocably alter each other's emotional life story.
She also says it has more to do with the fabled 'six degrees of separation' between people. "Insiders Guide is about how human we are... it's about the kinds of dilemmas people face daily or monthly or yearly. It deals with family and love and death and friends - all those important things I think people want to see. "
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