Gigi Edgley tells Kimberley Rothwell why she's happy to be back in Australia, playing a paramedic in an edgy television series. Good read.
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Rescue: Special Ops has completely consumed my body, mind and soul, and I'm so happy that it has," declares Gigi Edgley without a hint of irony. The 32-year-old Sydneysider is so stoked to be back home after three years banging her head against the acting wall in Los Angeles - and on a critically acclaimed show - that she's full of the praises of Down Under.
"I think we're very lucky on this side of the world, especially in Australia where every day is just . . . oh! I used to live in the heart of Hollywood for three odd years, and the sirens, the pollution, barely any grass, and the constant noise! And now we've moved back to Australia, it's just . . . the beaches, and the frangipani, and you can walk to the park with no shoes on. It's the most liveable city in the entire world."
Edgley, daughter of promoter Michael Edgley and Jeni Edgley, a former Miss Australia, plays rescue paramedic Lara Knight, who gets flung off buildings, into drains and off cliffs in the course of her job. The series was a hit in Australia when it screened last year, and as it hits our screens, shooting starts for a second series.
"We've been training and rehearsing for the last two weeks; abseiling, rock climbing, yoga, running - pretty much any co-curricular activity is really helpful at this stage. When we initiated the first season, they trained us up for a month and threw us off cliffs and put us into situations where we had to really use every skill possible to survive. It was really fantastic because it gave us a really good understanding of the characters that we were about to dive into, and it was a good way to teach us about each other.
"It was awesome to see the producers trusted us enough to really invest that much time and money in us. Quite often you'll do your scene, and then the stunt doubles come in and do the hard bit, and then they'll jump out and you step in. But they wanted us to do as much of our stunts as humanly possible without us actually falling off buildings completely. They wanted to get the camera in there and get the juicy shots."
It's also a juicy character that attracted Edgley to the role.
"These guys are secretly adrenaline junkies - they love the thrill of the chase. What these people witness day in, day out is what most of us would experience maybe once in your life. These guys see it non-stop."
In an upcoming episode, Lara is caught in a storm-water drain, which was filmed in a swimming pool in Sydney's outskirts. Edgley says it was a terrifying experience.
"They built this whole set and filled it with water, and literally, water is flushing down through this huge pool into a little tunnel and out again. As soon as I get into the pool, I'm like, flushed down, and they were grabbing onto my wetsuit and saying, 'think we'll have to put a rope on you!'
"It was awesome, fantastic. It was completely terrifying but I would do it again in a heartbeat. The director was screaming through a megaphone because we couldn't hear him over the water. He was saying 'go under the water more, it doesn't look scary enough!'
"The only way we knew it was the end of the shot was when I could feel a hand grabbing the rope that was attached to my wetsuit, pulling me by the neck like a wet kitten out of the flow of the drain."
N ONE of this sounds like much of a stretch for Edgley, who grew up among the performers in the circuses her father brought to town. From a young age, she was fooling around on trapeze equipment, watching ballerinas from backstage, and "cruising with the monkeys". Her most famous role to date was Chianna in the sci-fi series Farscape, which she stayed with for 4 1/2 years.
"Chianna was all about climbing up walls and acrobatics and everything from sword fighting to Matrix-style wire work. I adore all that. You become so one with what you're doing."
The show, which was canned seven years ago, still provides Edgley with an income as she tours the world appearing at sci-fi conventions and fan gatherings. It was invaluable income while she was in Los Angeles, because work was often scarce.
"You gotta do projects that you're not particularly in love with just to pay the bills, sometimes people glorify the industry . . . but all in all you do have to pay the bills at the end of the day. You don't want to be doing waitressing or bar work because what if an audition comes up?
"It was cool to have conventions because I'd zip off to London for a weekend, or New York, or wherever, and I could work a solid weekend. That would bring me some really good dollars and I'd be able to survive off that for a month or so."
Her time in LA wasn't all bad though. She did meet her fiance, Jamie, and directed her own feature film Nobody Knows.
"I am so happy I went on that adventure because I would always have been thinking, 'oh maybe I should have gone to Hollywood, or maybe I should have done this or that'.
"It was a fantastic adventure for me at that stage, but it's a lot more relaxed over here."
Being shoved down a storm drain and flung off a building? Sounds positively restful.