MC: A lot of the series was filmed on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula where you grew up. What was it like filming in your hometown?
GH: I grew up in Red Hill, which is right where we filmed at Panton’s Vineyard. I actually knew Karen Panton and her family growing up. It’s a very tight-knit community down that way so I knew a lot of the people involved and it made it even more of a special job for me. We filmed one of my favorite scenes at Pines Beach, nicknamed that because the pine trees come right down to the water. I have been going there since I was a kid, just like Olivia [Haig’s character]. It’s very unusual for an Australian landscape. It was really interesting to see the way it was shot because the landscape with its angulating hills and pine trees is so dramatic and it took on an almost enigmatic and moody feel.
MC: Is the thriller genre something you have always had an interest in? Did you enjoy the darker tone of this project?
GH: I love thrillers and I love that they’re having such a renaissance right now. I think it's so cool that so many shows are hybridizing thriller with other genres by making sure there’s still elements of romance or a quirkiness to it like in Killing Eve or Big Little Lies. That is exactly the kind of television I love to watch. I think the way the show incorporates comedy works really well because there are funny moments in it. Those moments connect you to the characters, and it makes it really real because in bad situations we do make jokes and use humor as a coping mechanism.
MC: This show doesn’t pretend its protagonists are perfect women. Each character is unique and each has her flaws and her own demons she has to battle. Do you think it’s important to present women on screen in this way?
GH: I think its really important that women are portrayed as flawed. I think if women are always just portrayed in this kind of aspirational, unachievable way it simplifies what it is to be a woman. We’re just as flawed as men and it's more interesting and fun to see that. Obviously we can never say that were portraying all levels of what it is to be a woman now but it is nice that there are three very different characters and that they’re all flawed, and all lovely in all different ways.
MC: Another explored theme is intimidation from an ex-partner. Australia has a real problem with violence against women and more specifically with domestic violence. Some aspects of this story then might be familiar to a lot of the show’s female audience. How do you treat such a topic with delicacy without compromising the art?
GH: The numbers are astonishing. Apparently one in six women report having been stalked and one in four women suffer from some sort of domestic abuse. But then it’s sort of interesting because we also have a really high suicide rate among men in Australia, so I do sometimes wonder if it’s all interrelated. The term toxic masculinity gets thrown around a lot and in the show the stalker character Jakob (played by Alexander England) is definitely described as suffering from toxic masculinity. But its funny, I think toxicity is not only about what your doing to others, but what it’s doing to yourself and I’m glad that the show doesn’t just portray him as this villain but it also looks at where the behaviors come from, and what might his motivating reasons be for that behavior. I think its nice that we have the six hour-long episodes to explore that a bit because it is a really complicated issue.
MC: Do you think that a show like this, which deals with issues like stalking and abuse, can start important conversations?
GH: I do. It’s great to tell these stories and hopefully help people in some way. There’s a moment when the characters are talking about how they feel stupid and they’re like, “how could we be so stupid” and it's sort of saying it has nothing to do with being stupid. It’s easy to blame yourself but these things happen to smart women all the time.
MC: There's a scene where your character is in her wedding dress covered in blood on what we presume is her wedding day. You got married to your husband Josh in 2014 in Sydney. Did you have any dramas leading up to the big day?
GH: We didn’t have a stressful wedding day, but the proposal was very stressful because Josh proposed on a river and he dropped the engagement ring into the water as he opened the box.
MC: You're joking!
GH: Yeah and he didn’t even get to ask the question and I just said, “I didn’t get to see the ring but my answer is yes”. In the end, he took off all his clothes and jumped in the river and duck dove and amazingly found the ring and then I saw it and it was this beautiful art deco ring from the '20s. On our wedding day when we did our vows, we had a bowl of water and dropped our rings in the water and retrieved the rings for each other, and the sentiment was whenever anything bad happens we will always be there for each other.
Secret Bridesmaids' Business will air on Channel Seven later this month.