Sophia Hawthorne plays Julie, a control freak very much 'in charge' of her life. Julie has her life plan all mapped out, when two unexpected things happen: her partner chokes to death just as she discovers she is pregnant...
She may have already received critical acclaim, but playing Julie on The Insiders Guide to Happiness is Sophia Hawthorne's first major television role. And the contrast between this role and many of Sophia's previous roles - including her portrayal of a "Westie girl" in the Kiwi film 'Savage Honeymoon', couldn't be greater.
"A lot of the characters that I've played [in the past] have been very outgoing and brazen and unafraid," Sophie explains, "whereas Julie's much more controlled, considered and reserved.
"Julie is extremely organised, very capable and very specific about how she likes things to be," says Sophia. "So when her ideal family situation gets destroyed so early on in her pregnancy, it really rocks her world."
The fact that Julie is so different to any of Sophia's previous roles was a big attraction for the actor. "It's been quite a challenge& playing a character who goes through so many traumatic things, one after the other. Especially when Julie's not someone who lets go, and just breaks down and lets things flow. It's not so much that she's repressed but she certainly has difficulty expressing her emotions. She just keeps everything contained, and internal."
Sophie admits that being so 'in control' does not come naturally to her. "One of the hardest things for me to do, as Julie, was to 'grieve without grieving.' When Julie's partner dies and she finds out that she's pregnant she sort of carries on as if nothing has happened.
"And so to rationalise that for me - it's a sort of denial. All that's the antithesis of the way I would deal with a situation like that I would probably be a wreck and be pretty useless. Whereas Julie sees emotion as a weakness. So that was quite difficult for me - to communicate something without openly expressing my feelings. "
Another challenge was spending many hours on set wearing a "false belly" which got bigger and heavier as her "pregnancy" progressed: "Yeah, that's been kind of difficult," she says. It's uncomfortable, and it's heavy, but it does help put you in the right mind set."
Something that came more naturally was portraying a successful caterer. As well as being a great cook and holding dinner parties Sophia, like numerous actresses, has supported herself on and off with waitressing work.
"I've worked in lots of restaurants," she says. "And I was working in a bakery before I started this job. I would have to do things like help out in the kitchen because it was quite a small bakery. Everything was hand made and there was only one oven. So all that experience helped."
For Sophie, though, the scenes she really relished on Insiders Guide were the ones near the end of the series when she got to put all her character's repression to one side and scream her lungs out: "That was fun. Doing the birth scene. I just loved acting out all the screaming!"
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