October 22, 2009
How Nicole Kidman Stole My Life - Part 2
"LOST IN CATERING"
The first impediment to my brilliant career was my hair. Why, I hear you ask? After all, Nicole got through with hers, and it was frizzy and red.
Well let me tell you, red curls are a dream compared to the short grey hair that I was sporting.
Yes, for my foray into fame, I had short grey hair. Of course, I didn't have short grey hair in the weeks before the shoot. I was 15 years old, for god's sake! I had gorgeous brown curls, hanging down past my shoulders. But after the director decided I needed blonde streaks, and the hairdresser made an error with the mixture, I turned grey in a tragic bleaching accident. To try to cover it up, they then dyed my entire hair, which left me grey, but with streaks of orange. To try to cover that up, they cut my hair to my neck. Then my ears. Then above my ears. Then it lost its curl, so they permed it. The final result provided an excellent solution to the problem of a 15 year old girl playing a nearly-18 year old. I now looked approximately 65.
Still, the good news was that I was still very slim, and - after several production sponsored sessions at the solarium - tanned. So off I went, with grey hair and stars in my eyes, to Queensland.
The mini-series was being shot as a film, and films are shot out of sequence. All the exteriors were being photographed in a six week shoot on a small island near Cairns. Cast and crew would be accommodated in the motel type facilities, before returning to Sydney for another six weeks of studio work.
And it was here, in Queensland, on location, where I personally erected the next hurdle on my path to superstardom. More like a roadblock, really.
It had to do with what I put in my mouth.
Film sets are notorious for their lavish catering. Full, hot breakfasts, morning teas of cakes and pastries, stodgy lunches, more sweets for afternoon tea, massive dinners with a selection of desserts, and suppers for night shoots. They are designed to help the mostly male crew to keep up their strength for the physical exertions of the day (not to mention their physical exertions of the night, another thing film sets are notorious for, but that's another story).
For me, it was a paradise. Up until now, my mum had been primarily responsible for what I ate, and she kept a very healthy home. I'd eat the dinners she cooked, and make breakfasts and lunches from the selection of ingredients in our kitchen. Away from her and my dad, with buffets on display five times a day, every single day, I went a bit beserk. Porridge and french toast for breakfast, muffins for morning tea, burgers for lunch, cakes, hot chips, ice cream, pasta, schnitzels..... My costumes got tighter and tighter, my cheeks got fuller and fuller, and with my short grey hair I took on the appearance of a molding Mr Potato Head.
By the time we arrived back in Sydney to shoot the interiors, I had gained a stone. By the end of the 12 week shoot, I had gained nearly two.
The continuity girl was frantic. It was her job to ensure that all the shots filmed at different times matched up to make one cohesive scene, one flawless narrative. This posed a tremendous challenge when the scene showed Sally frolicking in denim cut-offs on the beach, a petite size eight, only to walk through the door and enter the family home, suddenly a rather chunky size 12.
The makeup artist spoke to me sternly, the wardrobe mistress lectured me about my responsibilities, but I was a 17 (ehem - 15) year old girl, away from home for the first time, virtually unsupervised, and I was running wild.
Needless to say, the producers were unimpressed. The mini-series turned out to be reasonably successful, and it was picked up as a regular series. Sally, however, was written out. Apparently, she had left her island home to become a flight attendant. Clearly on an airline without weight restrictions.
TV week reported that I was likely to return for "several of the new season episodes". This several turned out to be "one". So humiliated was I with my big (literally) failure that I politely declined the offer of a day's work, and another girl was flown in for eight hours to play Sally. Apparently she wasn't very good either.
In the end, I went back to school and let go of my acting ambitions. Still, it was fun while it lasted. I had my moment in the sun, light streaming through my orange streaks, my fat cheeks glowing with health.
Maddeningly, though, there is always that reminder of what could have been... the woman whose career mirrored my own, up until she took off into the stratosphere, and I headed back to the buffet for seconds.
Ah, Nicole. My nemesis. Bet you're glad I stood aside.