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Abbie Cornish Exclusive Interview
By SP_COP on June 09, 2014 | From
Abbie Cornish Exclusive Interview Abbie Cornish returned to television earlier this year with Klondike - which has now been released on DVD - the first ever scripted mini-series for the Discovery Channel.

We caught up with the actress to chat about the series, taking on a real-life character, and moving back into television.

- You star in new TV series Klondike, so can you tell me a little bit about it?

Klondike is a three par mini series that centres on the gold rush in Yukon and Alaska in 1897/8. Its main characters are real life characters that you can read about in books and the internet. I take on the role of one of these central characters.

There are other characters around them that are made up to support the story. I take on a real life character in the form of Belinda Mulrooney; she really existed in that time.

- Klondike was the first ever scripted mini-series for the Discovery Channel, so how did you get involved in the project? What was it about the character of Belinda and the script that particularly appealed?

The director and the producers were really keen for me to be a part of this, so I met with them and they offered the role to me. After meeting with them, I just felt that it was a really wonderful and a really professional team that I would be working with, and a team that was creating a mini-series that had a contemporary edge to it.

It is about characters who lived in some of the harshest possible living environments possible, in the harshest circumstances: it really is live or die. It is a very every man for himself mentality, so trust is hard to come by, friendships are hard to come by. I was fascinated by that world, and I really thought that it was a study of humanity.

I also thought the character of Belinda Mulrooney is one that I am going to come across again, she really is a one off in regards to where she was, who she was, what she has achieved, all the facets of her personality: her strengths, her weakness, her business mind and her independence.

To find a woman like this in that time and that environment was fascinating, and I really felt that I was at the right point in my life to embody a role like that and a woman like that. It was really exciting for me.

- As you say, Belinda Mulrooney was a real person, who what kind of responsibility comes with taking on a role like this?

A part of you instantly feels a connection to that character, and without judgement. I am more interested in the fact that, as actors, we want to play and explore characters that sometimes, by society’s standards, not normal. We do it with this want to explore them without judgement and play them without judgement.

There is something interesting to that, because they become almost like a case study that you not only study, but also you step into the shoes of and you then become. It is an interesting medium in that way. For me playing Belinda, it was interesting just to be in those shoes.

At times, I found that I really had to push myself to be stronger and push myself to be braver, and push myself to really disregard the cold and the snow: I put myself aside and really had to let her drive and let her make the decisions between action and cut.

I really enjoyed that with that character to be honest. I have played some characters in the past there were more on the gentle side or more sensitive, this is the strongest character that I have played to date.

- The series is set during the gold rush of the 1890s and is based on the book Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike by Charlotte Gray. How did you prepare for the project? And how much is the research something that you enjoy?

I love research and I love prepping the role and prepping the characters; for me, it really is so much fun. As soon as I get a job, it begins for me. My mind starts to drift in the way of the character or that time and I start to read. As the project comes closer, it comes off the page and it becomes more physical; I start to truly visualise it.

For me, when I am in the costume and the make-up - all those layers of artistic direction - and the cast and the crew that you meet, it all starts to become real and take shape: even though you are making something that is make believe, there is a life to it and you are breathing life into it.

I do as much as I can to be honest; I even work all throughout the production. I have even had delayed thoughts on a character after I have finished working on a project; things linger with me like a scent.

I think I do invest in characters quite heavily - I think it is inevitable when you do something creative - you really are all there.

When you see a dancer dance a piece, their whole being is in that, if they choose to let it be or can let it be. I really enjoy that about being an actress and it really does excite me. That really is why I choose the projects that I do and I work the way that I do.

- Klondike is the first full TV series that you have done since Life Support, so how did you find going back to television?

It was great; it was quite seamless and easy. I was in such wonderful hands with director Simon Cellan Jones, as he shot it as if it was one big story in three acts. Simon just had this real vision and edge, that I felt was a period story in a contemporary way; he really made it feel tangible and was something that you could grip on to, that is there and present.

It very much becomes about the story, the relationships, the survival and Bill’s journey through this time in his life, the people that he meets, and the relationships that he has. I felt that he really followed the truth of the story, as well as the humanity and inhumanity.

He also did it without judgement as well, this meant he was able to go into Tim Roth’s character and Sam Shepard’s character, and play them all with the same attention to that part of the story. He was really able to explore the fight, the struggle, and what happens to people when they are freezing, starving, and are in a world where lies roll off the tongue....
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