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Gigi Edgley to the rescue
July 30th, 2009
GIGI Edgley radiates happiness, energy and vitality. The Gold Coast-reared actress, 32, has made herself the unofficial welcome party to the set of Channel 9's new action TV series Rescue Special Ops.
Edgley, the daughter of circus promoter Michael Edgley and his first wife Jeni, who runs a new-age retreat in the Byron hinterland, is back on home soil after three years living and working in Los Angeles.
She beams from ear to ear and talks a mile a minute about her morning -- up before dawn, a walk along the cliffs near her new home, an apartment in the North Sydney suburb of Mosman, and meditation at sunrise, all in preparation for a day at work.
"I don't think I've ever been happier or healthier," she confides.
"I have this fantastic opportunity and I don't want to waste a moment.
"When I'm not working, I try to fill every minute. I go for swims, surfs, walks," she laughs and drops a bombshell, "and I spend time with my beautiful boy."
Boyfriend, we confirm.
Then she's off, called to shoot her first scenes of the day. She'll be back, she promises. She's as a good as her word.
The location is Station House, a Sydney warehouse which has been made over as homebase for the elite team of paramedics who are the key characters in RSO.
Filming this scene is Libby Tanner as station boss Michelle LeTourneau and Peter Phelps as station co-ordinator Vince Marchello.
Les Hill, of Underbelly fame, is unit leader Dean Gallagher. H20 mermaid mate Andrew Lees plays his brother Chase.
Others who join the scene are Home and Away favourite Daniel Amalm as Jordan Zwitkowski and Heartbreak High star Katherine Hicks as Heidi Wilson. And, of course, Edgley as squad member Lara Knight.
Reporters have been instructed to sit at a desk several car lengths from filming, to keep quiet, still and to avoid the camera's line of sight.
The desk itself is filled with paraphernalia -- some recognisable, some less so. There is a phone, a ham radio set, clipboards, files, a machine that pings and inexplicably, a bearded, bikini-clad garden gnome.
The fully kitted out rescue truck parked nearby is stacked with all sorts of official looking equipment. Look, there, is that the machinery commonly referred to as the jaws of life? Why isn't it out with a real emergency crew, pulling accident victims from car wrecks?
The far end of the building boasts its own rock-climbing wall.
Another wall is lined with equipment, tools and gear usually associated with rock climbing and abseiling.
Emergency workers welcome Tanner's character to Station House. A director calls 'Cut'. The warehouse clears. Cast and crew make their way to a nearby park to be fed and watered. Edgley pulls up a chair.
"I feel like I'm the luckiest girl in the world ," she says.
"I have this wonderful job, the support of a beautiful man and I'm closer than ever to everyone in my family. Believe me, I missed them these past years."
She name checks them all.
Dad Michael still has a property in Beechmont. It's a retreat for himself and wife, ballerina Justine Summers. Mum Jeni and her boyfriend Andrew are in the Byron hills. And her siblings, blood and step? Sasha is travelling, Mark is with the circus, Kathy is setting up her own organic skincare range, Jake works on websites, Summer has just moved out of home.
And that boy? He's an American Edgley met while she called Los Angeles home for three years.
"His name is Jamie. He was a mechanical engineer who manufactured heart valves in Minnesota before he went to California, learned how much he could earn with a good act as a street performer and decided to try his luck. When I met him he had a broken foot."
Edgley laughs at the memory.
"I asked how he'd done it and he said unicycling. I said that's funny. I'm pretty good at fire-twirling. Me, I grew up with the circus."
The star of Farscape, The Secret Life of Us, Stingers and Blackjack has spent the past years living in Los Angeles.
There, she earned her pay packet as a jobbing actress, filming several TV pilots and touring the sci-fi circuit where Edgley's blonde, bobbed Farscape character Chiana is still a fan favourite.
She recorded a CD, penned a comic book, and made her first movie -- 20-minutes, cast of 24, budget $30,000.
"Originally, I thought I could do it for two grand on video, but it turned into quite a production," she laughs. "How did I fund it? Farscape. That's a lot of autographs at $20 a pop."
The Jim Henson Company, which created the critters and creatures from Farscape, will see Edgley's pitch later in the year.
But back to the boyfriend.
The pair were good friends for some time before they made the steps toward a serious relationship.
"I'd invested all my time and cash in the movie and he said 'move in with me'. It was by the beach, the rent was cheaper, so I did."
When Edgley moved home to Australia for RSO, Jamie followed.
"And here we are. It's like a dream," says Edgley, who absent-mindedly rubs her empty wedding-ring finger while she says this. Is there some significance?
"No," she laughs. "God, no. My character in the show is engaged. I'm not. Me, I still wear training wheels in that department."
Edgley changes the subject back to the show and reveals a bit of the storyline which cast and crew are filming.
"Today we're chasing people who blow up ATM machines and doing a bit of crime solving," she laughs.
"Actually, I should point out crime solving is not our usual regimen.
"A big detective has come to ask for our help IDing the men involved, so there's a bit of sneaky work involved, work that wouldn't usually be our thing."
Playing one of an elite team of search-and-rescue paramedics has put Edgley almost as close as it gets to the real action.
"Abseiling, rock climbing, fighting, rope work, we've done it all," she says.
"I've been hanging off cliffs and buildings, pushed down storm drains and trapped in rising waters, jumped from building to building.
"I have an action figure, based on my character from Farscape, but I've never done so much stunt work as I have here. I don't know what that says, but it does say something," she laughs.
Rescue Special Ops: Sundays, 8.30pm, Nine, NBN