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)