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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.

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.

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 Originals actress hits Australia just in time to celebrate at the MAAS Ball.

As Phoebe Tonkin arrives in Sydney to celebrate the first Museum of Applied Arts and Science Fashion Ball at The Powerhouse Museum tonight in partnership with Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter, we couldn’t resist the chance to grab time with the Australian actress for the brief moment she’s on our shores to discuss fashion and career in 2018.

How does it feel to be back in Australia for the MAAS Ball?
“I haven’t been back for almost a year, and I missed out in coming back for Christmas, so It has been really nice to see friends and family and go to the beach, and also be here for the first MAAS Ball.”

What is it about Australian fashion that you feel sets it apart from the rest of the world?
“The focus is on quality, easy, well-tailored pieces. I never feel like Australian fashion follows trends, but instead focuses on how best our fashion integrates into our lifestyle, and not the other way around.”

Which designers, Australian or not, are you investing in for the season ahead and what pieces are you looking for?
“I always like to buy good quality cotton Tees at Bassike. I also just came across Jordan Askill’s beautiful jewellery too.”

What do you miss about Australia when you’re not here?
“Waking up and jumping in the ocean, and drying off in the sun with a latte”.

What acting projects are you working on and looking forward to in 2018?
“I just finished working on the The Affair, in America, but I am most excited about Safe Harbour, which is a four part mini-series airing in March on SBS. I shot it last year and it’s a project I am incredibly proud of.”

Talk us through the process you go through in deciding which roles you want to take on.
“I spent a long time in one place playing the same role, and I am excited to branch out and have the opportunity to play more diverse, rich roles in a variety of projects, as opposed to just the one. I gravitate towards more grounded projects, and I would love to keep working in Australia.”

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?
“Someone said to me many, many years ago, ‘Just make it about the work’, which I have applied countless times in my life. Also, ‘never jump the lunch line, the crew work a lot harder than you do’–my old tutor Rob Bailey taught me that one and that’s an invaluable piece of advice!”


Phoebe Tonkin is in need of a schnitzel. The 28-year-old actress has just arrived in Hamburg, Germany, and she is itching to try some local delicacies.”I haven’t had any super traditional German food yet, but I’m excited to try something they have called gluehwein, which I guess is a mulled wine?”

This is her first time in Germany. “It is beautiful here,” says the Australia native. “I didn’t really know much about it before I got here, and it was a really pleasant surprise. It is gorgeous.”

And lack of schnitzel be damned (for now, at least), she is doing her best to take in the local attractions. So far, she’s hit the Christmas market, gone on a tour of the Hamburg School of Ballet, and visited the famed Miniatur Wunderland, a museum of, well, miniature things.

“I was very surprised at how impressive it was. It is so detailed,” she says. ”It is really quite amazing. Basically, you walk through giant rooms and it is really detailed, tiny replicas of cities and historical events. You could just stare at something for fifteen minutes and you are still going to miss little details.”

And all of this one some very extreme jetlag; very early on Saturday morning, Tonkin had filmed her final scene for The Originals, The CW’s successful spinoff of The Vampire Diaries, which she has starred on since 2013. “It was a very emotional goodbye,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve totally digested it. It has been a really big opportunity for me, and I am so grateful for the last five years, but also really excited to see what is next. I think I’d like to take a little break, but also start to work on some different material or different type of role. I was fortunate enough to do this miniseries in Australia, which gave me the bug again to find smaller, interesting, edgier pieces.”

But first, the reason she’s in Hamburg in the first place: Chanel’s Métiers d’Art show.

The Metiers d’Art show marks Tonkin’s third Chanel show, her first, ironically being a recreation of a Salzburg-themed show held in New York. “It was obviously gorgeous,” she recalls. So gorgeous, in fact, that she completely missed a rare front row appearance by none other than Beyoncé. “I think I was so awestruck by everything around me —Pharrell and Cara Delevingne performed, and it was a very exciting moment for me—that she very well was there and I was just caught up in all the things that were happening.”

Tonkin likens attending a Chanel show to a “funny summer camp.” “You end up being in different countries around the world and seeing the same people,” she says. “Stella Maxwell is a good friend of mine, though she’s normally walking the show. There’s actually been a couple of times where I’ve been lent samples and seen her name in the tag. I always say it is a good luck charm if Stella has worn the dress already on the catwalk.”

For today’s event, Tonkin selects a tea-length black dress with silver embroidery, after a serious debate over a shorter, spanglier number. “I do like to keep options, but when both options are so good, it is not such an easy decision.” To match the dress, she styles her chin-length hair in loves waves, with a nude lip and subtle smoky eye. “I like to play music, and like to do a mask or use some funny gadgets,” Tonkin explains.

She’s all set — just no Gluehwein until the afterparty. “I try to keep the wine ’til afterwards, because then I will just end up sitting and chatting and listening to music for way too long and miss my car,” she explains.

And with that, auf wiedersehen.


The Sydney-born actress, and star of Smythson’s latest campaign film, Phoebe Tonkin, spends an inordinate amount travelling; from the set of The Originals to her hometown and back again, along with frequent trips to New York, Paris and LA. Phoebe tells us about her in-flight essentials, stealing Le Labo, and getting lost in London.

What’s the one thing you love about travel?
For me, travel is about experiencing other cultures – seeing the world, meeting new people. I just want to experience different things.

What are your number one in-flight essentials?
On the plane, I always take a Sisley miniature toner, an Evian facial spray, Nivea lip balm, and Bioderma Creatine H2O wipes for make-up remover. I also try to remember a cosy sweater – I’m currently loving Rouje. Their sweaters are really light but made with a good-quality wool.

If you are only travelling with one bag, what do you pack?
My number one would be a bottle of Evian water, so I don’t dehydrate. Probiotics from Kimberly Snyder: I love this brand, I usually order them online or try to pick up a few when I’m in LA and can stop by her store, GLO BIO. If I can’t get hold of any, I try to eat food that’s rich in probiotics like Sauerkraut and Kombucha. I always take my Nile Blue Smythson Passport Holder: it’s colourful, which is great…I hate getting to the front of the line and then suddenly rummaging through six million items – you need to be able to see it quickly. I like to take a face mask: a clear one that doesn’t make me look insane. Sisley’s Black Rose face mask is amazing and really hydrating. I also take my Shu Uemura eyelash curler pretty much everywhere I go.

I always pack a black Matteau Bikini, and I recently just stocked up in a bunch of gorgeous viscose shirts by Rouge. I rarely pack heels, I usually just pack a pair of Chanel ballet flats, Nike sneakers, and Ancient Greek Sandals. I am a blue jean junkie though I’m a blue jean junkie, so this trip I bought five pairs of Frame jeans with me to London…which, in hindsight, was probably a bit excessive.

What’s the one book you’d always turn to in transit?
Right now, I’m reading How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell, which I would highly recommend, and Walking Free by Munjed Al Muderis.

What’s the one Smythson item you won’t travel without?
My current carry-on is the Smythson Burlington Backpack: as long as you can fit a laptop, your passport, a wallet and a few toiletry items in a bag, you’re all good—I always try my best to avoid checking luggage.

What’s the one thing you like to eat on the plane?
I try not to eat on the plane but, if I do, I don’t eat the plane food and usually rely on a stop-over to get a rice salad that I can take away. They’re good because, even if you don’t eat it for a few hours, it doesn’t go bad.

What is your one must-have in a hotel?
When I’m booking a hotel I always check to see if they have a steam room, because I love to get off the plane and just sit in it for as long as I can. The Greenwich Hotel in NYC has an amazing indoor pool and a great sauna and steam room, but in LA I like to go to a place called Sweatheory where they have infrared saunas. Sometimes If my hotel has a bath tub, I will swing by the chemist and grab a big bag of Epsom Salts and try to de-bloat from the plane.

What’s the number one process for curing jet-lag?
I’ll often get jet lag when I travel long distance, it always comes to me at about 2am in the morning, and I can’t get back to sleep for about three hours which has been happening since I got to London for the Smythson campaign shoot. I think the trick is not to stress out about it. I always leave my book next to my bed so I’m not lying there going insane and can read for a bit.

When I land home I immediately take all my luggage out and put it to be cleaned – I love Jessica Alba’s line, the Honest Company. I have used her laundry detergent for years now. I hate getting home and having piles of washing to do when you’re already tired and try to get it done as soon as possible. I don’t really wear a lot of tailored things so I don’t necessarily need to hang up all my clothes – I mainly wear silks or linen so they don’t need to be pressed. My favourite brand right now is Protagonist. They just came out with a whole collection of silk slip dresses in the dreamiest colours that are super light and easy to pack.

I also have a really long shower and wash my hair to try and get the plane grim off. I am obsessed with Christophe Robin. Nothing I have ever used before has made such a drastic improvement to my hair. I love the antioxidant Shampoo and Conditioner and the Rose Volumising Mist. And the chestnut hair mask is life-changing. For Body wash I love Dr. Bronner in Hemp. I usually buy jojoba oil at the local Whole Foods or something, as I am petrified of leaving it in my bag and it accidentally spilling.

How would you spend one day in London?
Whenever I get to a new city I like to walk around, stretch my legs and get lost. Last time I was in London it was only for 24 hours, so I have a bit longer this time. We’re currently staying at The Edition Hotel, and everything in the room is by Le Labo; I love how the products smell, so I’ve been taking their body moisturisers for the plane. The night that we arrived we were in the mood for sushi (whenever I land off the plane I’m always in the mood for a healthy dinner – something rich in greens and nutritious), so we went to Roka. I also always try and have a glass of red wine that first night, to help me fall asleep.

How would you spend one day in your home city, Sydney…
If I had to pick my number one city, it would be Sydney. I suppose I have to say that, but I also genuinely believe it. I’d recommend having dinner at Fratelli’s, everything is great there, and it’s very reasonably priced. The Boathouse at Balmoral Beach is perfect for breakfast, and you should go to Icebergs Bar for a cocktail: my signature drink is an Old Fashioned, although I’m not actually that fussed about where I drink it – I recently bought all the ingredients to make it at home. For a very traditional Australian thing to do, I’d also recommend just buying a bottle of Chardonnay and finding a random grassy knoll to drink it in!

What’s the one restaurant you always try to visit in New York and LA?
Whenever I visit New York, I make sure I have breakfast at Gemma under the Bowery Hotel. It’s so old. I love that hotel, and love rolling down and getting eggs, a juice and a coffee in the morning. The ABC Kitchen is great for dinner: have the ricotta and butternut squash toast. In LA, I like Cafe Gratitude for brunch – they have amazing pancakes and muffins, which are not that healthy, but very good.