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Tonkin jumped at the chance to come back to Australia to work on a grounded drama after spending years on the heightened-reality milieu of The Originals and The Vampire Diaries. The actor relished tackling her character’s arc from being a hopeful, happy young woman to someone who, five years later, harbours a lot of anger, guilt and sadness.

Working for the first time with veterans McKenzie, Leslie and Walsman, Tonkin says she was a bit intimidated initially but felt comfortable after the first day and enjoyed the collaborative effort. “It was incredibly inspiring to work with all those actors; I probably learned more than I did in the past 10 years,” she says.

Ivin notes: “[Tonkin] proved herself to be a much greater actor than we had been aware of. I think people will see her differently from now on because she delivers a stellar performance.”

Similarly, McKenzie marvelled at Tonkin’s temperament and technique as she persevered filming a scene in dying light after a camera malfunction, observing: “Phoebe is at the top of her game in the US and it was lovely to see her back in Australia doing a fabulously dramatic role that she could get her teeth into.”

Read more about the filming of Safe Harbour at the source.

Right from the start of Safe Harbour, it’s clear not everyone on board the yacht Liberame is keen to help the refugees they’ve encountered. Maybe they’re concerned about safety; maybe they just don’t want to get involved. And maybe when the two boats become separated in the night it was an accident, but just maybe someone deliberately cut the rope connecting them. And if it was deliberate, who amongst the yacht’s passengers might be to blame?

Olivia (Phoebe Tonkin)

She works at Ryan’s business and is the one who initially spots the boat. If they were giving out prizes for looking suspicious, she’d be going home with a truckload – giving the boat the death stare is her main hobby. When they’re tossing up what to do, she asks if they “even have enough food” to help, which isn’t a positive sign. On the whole, she doesn’t say much, which is definitely the approach you’d take if you had an evil scheme in mind.


The four-part psychological thriller, which was screened a week ago as part of the Berlin International Film Festival’s drama program, is about a group of Australians — played by Phoebe Tonkin, Joel Jackson, Ewen Leslie, Leeanna Walsman and Jacqueline McKenzie — enjoying a picturesque sailing holiday in the waters to this country’s north.

But when they encounter a broken-down fishing boat of asylum-seekers trying to reach Australia, life-and-death decisions are required. After initially offering help, the ­Australians find a tow rope is furtively cut in the night, leading to an immediate tragedy for one Iraqi family as well as a persistent mystery that affects all their futures.

“We worked hard to overcome the distance between audiences and this scenario,’’ says Ivin. “It’s easy to think: ‘If I was in that situation, I would act nobly.’ But when you are confronted in the open water and you can’t turn away — or change the channel — we would all probably act differently to how we imagine.”

Ivin, whose directorial work in recent years includes Seven Types of Ambiguity, Gallipoli and Puberty Blues, says the metaphorical significance­ of the yacht was mirrored in the Brisbane filming location.

“If we think of the Aussies’ yacht as Australia, they have food, water and space in abundance, surrounded by water, in contrast to the asylum-seekers’ boat,” he says. “I hadn’t shot or even spent a lot of time in Brisbane before, but when I started really looking, it was clear that this is what Australia looks like to the outside world — a place where, if you work hard, you can have a good life.”

For Tonkin, 28, best known for playing a mermaid in the long-running children’s series H20: Just Add Water, it marks a return­ to acting in Australia after almost a decade in Los Angeles. Ivin says he saw the dramatic depth in the actress, who has been starring in The Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals for the past five years.

“Phoebe sent this screen test from LA and I just had tears in my eyes,” he says.

“She could just see her character Olivia on the page. There was so much emotion and honesty. I don’t think ­people have seen Phoebe that way.”

For her part, Tonkin says playing a “pure dramatic contemporary role” rather than the “heightened” world of fantasy, was a long-held ambition. “I have been very fortunate in working solidly for 10 years in LA, but have frankly felt typecast and limited in the type of opportunities I’ve been offered,” she says.

“I always knew I was capable of doing work that was more grounded and serious. Olivia has a very distinct character arc, going from a very vibrant and excited person to being ­profoundly affected by what happens on the boat, and its aftermath. It’s like the light in her has been dimmed.”

You can read the rest of the article at the source.

SAFE_HARBOUR_FACEBOOK from Andreas Smetana Productions on Vimeo.

Phoebe Tonkin is one of Australia’s biggest acting success stories.

In 2012, she got her big break landing a role on the successful US supernatural TV series The Vampire Diaries, and went on to star in the spin-off series, The Originals, which has been running for five seasons.

In a saturated TV market, to star in a show that airs for so long on a major television network, The CW, is very impressive and Tonkin does count her blessings, along with her 4.5 million Instagram followers.

Last year, the Sydney girl returned to Australia for a role on new SBS drama Safe Harbour, a psychological thriller dealing with social and political issues.

“I’ve been trying to find an Australian project for ages and this was kind of the perfect one,” Tonkin told AAP on set in Brisbane.

The actress relished this acting opportunity. The original and honest storytelling offered her something different to sink her teeth into, compared to the shows she has been working on overseas.

“I guess the show I’m on (in the US) is very stylised so it’s a very specific set. There’s a lot of big set-ups and a lot of action sequences which is so not what this (Safe Harbour) is, but neither is better than the other. I’ve just really loved this more grounded intimate experience than the kind of bigger budget TV show experience,” she said.

The whole experience on this show was something Tonkin had been craving for a long time.

“If I had my way, I probably would have been doing more low-key things like this over the last few years because that’s the kind of thing I like to watch, that’s the kind of movie and film that I gravitate towards,” she said.

“It’s been so challenging, this job, in the most amazing fun way but it is really nice to be challenged.”

Playing the complex Olivia on Safe Harbour was a welcome break from playing a werewolf hybrid in the supernatural series, The Originals.

“There’s a side of me that relates to these characters a little more than, say, the sexy ass-kicking girl that unfortunately a lot of material sometimes does head towards,” she said.

“That’s not a bad thing either but I do think there’s both a place for bad-ass girl who is strong and there’s also a place for the complicated more complex female characters.”

The fifth season of The Originals will be the series last, leaving Tonkin free to perhaps pursue some more projects on home soil.

“I would love to keep working here,” she said.

“I think the roles are really interesting in Australian projects. I think they’re really grounded and the writing’s always really good.”

*Safe Harbour premieres on SBS on Wednesday, March 7 at 8.30pm (AEDT)


The stars came out in full-force for the Chanel We Love Coco Party celebrating the launch of the new Chanel @WeLoveCoco Instagram account in Los Angeles on Wednesday, February 28. From colorful tweed separates to feathered mini frocks, stars like Ava Phillippe, Kristen Stewart and Kiernan Shipka turned out some serious fierce looks that have Us saying, “We certainly love Coco.” Scroll through to see our favorite fashion moments of the evenings!

Even better: the part may be over, but you can get in on the fun (like the swing Ava perched on) yourself. From March 1 to March 4 stop by the Chanel Beauty House at 9169 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, L.A. (after you rsvp on Eventbrite) and explore all of the new lipstick goodness, from shades, textures and formulations that Chanel has to offer. Oh, and, don’t forget to hashtag #WeLoveCoco!

Phoebe Tonkin
The actress wore and shimmering blue tweed mini dress that she paired with a crisp red apple lip.


appearances > 2018 > february 28th – chanel beauty house and @welovecoco celebration
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