The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Melissa George (Cinemax’s “Hunted”)

Those with a soft spot for Australian soap operas may forever think of Melissa George as Angel from “Home and Away,” but they’re doing both her and themselves a disservice by maintaining that mindset, because George has handily proven over and over again that she’s a far cry from being just another soap opera actress, be it by her Golden Globe nominated performance on HBO’s “In Treatment,” her work with David Lynch (“Mulholland Drive”) and Steven Soderbergh (“The Limey”), or her despicable turn as Lauren Reed on ABC’s “Alias.” With her latest small-screen endeavor, Cinemax’s “Hunted,” George is returning to the spy side of things, but trust Bullz-Eye when we tell you that “Hunted” is on a completely different level of television than “Alias.” We talked to her in conjunction with the series’ premiere – 10 PM tonight and every Friday night for the next several weeks – while also quizzing her about a few other past endeavors, including working with Heath Ledger on “Roar,” getting the shaft on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and just barely missing out on being part of one of the most notorious sitcom flops in NBC history.

Bullz-Eye: To begin at the beginning, how did you find your way into “Hunted”? Was it an audition situation, or did they come looking for you specifically?

Melissa George: They were very strict about making people read. Some jobs, not so much, they know who they want. But “Hunted” is (being produced by) HBO and BBC together, and they were both having to choose and decide, so we had the English with the Americans, so that’s why the audition process was so long.

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I was walking on the West Side Highway in New York, and my phone rang. It was my agent saying, “I’ve just read the most dynamic role for a woman, it’s as complex as what you played on ‘In Treatment,’ with a bit of action, which you’ve done before. It’s shooting in Europe, it’s really good, it’s written by Frank Spotnitz, it’s an English and American production…you’ve got to get it.” That’s kind of what he said. And I hate when they say that, ‘cause that means no sleep for me. Because, y’know, of course if it’s that great I want to play it. And I was then shooting a movie with Julia Stiles in Los Angeles (“Between Us”) and I was busy with that, and I had a video camera set up in the hotel room, and I put together a scene. They asked me to do three scenes, but I just did one. It was the one where she confronts her ex in the apartment. Very emotional. And I remember I was just so choked up…and I was recording myself, not speaking to anybody, because I didn’t have an actor reading with me. And I was, like, “Oh, my God, I really love this part…” And I cut, printed, and sent it. I couldn’t do any more scenes because I was really upset. I felt really strongly about this woman. And I waited. I didn’t care, because I was shooting a movie.

Then I got a call saying, “They want you to meet with Frank and read a scene.” I was, like, “Oh, my God…” There were so many freaking people in this room. [Laughs.] So many people! I thought it was just going to be me. Every actor thinks that when you’re asked to read, it’s just gonna be you. But it was a lot of people, and I was on my own. But I met Frank, and he said to me later on, once I’d gotten the role, that he knew from when I put myself on tape, and when I went in to read, he said, “I just feel really connected to her.” But that was it. I didn’t hear for awhile after that, so I was, like, “Ugh, this is gonna be one of those jobs…” And then S.J. (Clarkson), who’s directing, got onboard, and…the director has a big say, so Frank’s got his choice made, BBC and HBO made theirs, but now I have to wait for S.J. to make hers. So I had to meet her. They fly me from New York to L.A. to have lunch, and all we do is talk about film, and then…I was the only girl, but I had to read with lots of guys. And none of the guys I read with got it. [Laughs.] But I was the only girl they were using, and yet still hadn’t told me that I’d got it! And I was, like, “What’s going on here?”

But I was so convinced that I was onboard that I went around convincing everyone else around me that I was. I was, like, “Oh, yeah, I’m gonna be playing this role in a few months…” But I hadn’t heard anything, and I was going, “This is ridiculous! They’re going all over the world looking for this actress, every single country, and I’m, like, “Well, does she have to be from a particular place?” “No, they don’t care where she’s from, because she has to play so many nationalities, so many different languages and accents.” So I waited while they went around the globe, reading hundreds of girls, and they were losing me, because I was going, “Well, if they wait too long…” And then finally everyone was, like, “C’mon, S.J.!” So that’s the story. And it was so funny on set, because while we were filming in Morocco, S.J. would come up to me and speak French, then she’d say, “Oh, sorry, wrong actress.” Like she’d found a girl in France that she really liked. I was, like, “Shut up, I know you didn’t find anybody!” [Laughs.] It was one of those things where the joke went on forever. Like, the whole season of the show. “Sorry, what’s your name?” So I don’t quite know what happened that made it take so long to decide, but I know that when I seize on something, man, I’d better get the job. Because I was honestly delusional. I was, like, “Yes, I’m shooting London in a few months,” and everyone was, like, “But have they said ‘yes’?” “No. But I’m going to be shooting!”

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A Chat with Annie Ilonzeh (“Charlie’s Angels”)

“Charlie’s Angels,” ABC’s 2011 take on the classic chicks-kicking-ass concept, hasn’t exactly been setting the ratings on fire during its first few weeks on the air, but that’s not for lack of extremely dedicated actresses in the show’s cast. Take, for instance, Annie Ilonzeh, who plays Kate Prince on the series. Bullz-Eye had the chance to chat with the “General Hospital” alumnus just as “Angels” was about to take flight, and her enthusiasm and excitement about the series and her role proved decidedly infectious.

Bullz-Eye: So have you just finished a long day of filming?

Annie Ilonzeh: Yes, I have! So I’m sorry that I’m a little late calling.

BE: That’s quite all right. You have a good excuse, so you’re fine.

AI: (Laughs) Literally, it was perfect timing. I’m really surprised that it worked out. But after looking at the schedule, I figured, “Okay, we’re not going to be working ‘til 10 or 11 tonight.”

BE: Well, I’m glad you were able to finish in time to talk. I was at the TCA tour when you did the panel for “Charlie’s Angels,” but you all rushed off immediately afterward, so you weren’t around to chat at the party that night.

AI: Yeah, they had us in and out of there so quick! It was, like, “Get out of here and go back to Miami!” “Okay, okay!” So we were there for the panel that morning, and then we had a 2 PM flight or something crazy like that.

BE: You play Kate Prince on the show, and the one-liner ABC gives you in the press release is that you’re “a Miami cop who fell from grace, losing both her career and her fiancé.” Is that all they gave you to work with when you first got the role? Or did they even tell you which Angel you were going to be playing?

AI: Oh, yeah, I auditioned specifically for her. And, yeah, that was kind of the gist of it. Actually, I don’t think the ex-fiancé thing was in the breakdown as of that time, as in when I first auditioned. But when I auditioned, I kind of felt like things were a bit rougher at that time. They were still figuring things out. (Hesitates) Well, no, because originally I’d heard that they’d tried to attempt this a year ago, so I guess they kind of had an idea of the character. I just didn’t know about the ex-fiancé part very clearly. But slowly, through the four month audition process(Laughs) …I learned more about her and figured her out more, which was good for me. It was a long process, which sucks for any actor, because you wrack your brain and you’re, like, “Well, they didn’t say this, but they did say this, and she looked at me this way,” and…well, whatever. You just start making things up in your head, and it just gets crazy. But throughout that process, it did help me figure her out more. And I got to see producers more, and they got to see more. So it all worked out.

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Unnecessary Liaisons: 15 TV Couplings That Never Should Have Happened

The “will they or won’t they?” dynamic has been a staple of television since the very beginning of the medium, but just because two people can get together doesn’t mean that they should get together. Bullz-Eye decided to take a look back through our favorite TV series and consider some of the more ill-begotten romances that have taken place over the years. Have we missed any? Or do you disagree with some of our selections? Let us know in the comments!

1. Rachel & Joey, “Friends”

Given that just about everyone has had a crush on a friend at some point in their lives, it made sense that a show called “Friends” would make use of that concept, and in addition to the long-running “will they or won’t they” of the Ross and Rachel relationship, Monica and Chandler proved to be a surprisingly effective combination as well. But Rachel and Joey…? That’s just taking things a step too far.

Actually, the two never took their relationship to the toppermost of the poppermost, if you will, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The storyline began with Joey (Matt LeBlanc) suffering through a major crush on Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), one which she ultimately decided was worth risking their friendship to expand into something more. When they tried to get down and dirty, however, Rachel kept finding herself instinctually slapping Joey’s hands back, and Joey found that he’d lost his gift for unstrapping bras. Attempts to loosen each other up with champagne failed just as miserably, and in the end, the two decided that the problem was that they’d become better friends over the years than Monica and Chandler were when they became a couple.

Some have questioned whether the awkwardness between Aniston and LeBlanc during their romantic scenes was behind the decision to stop the Rachel / Joey relationship dead in its tracks, but let’s chalk that up to acting, as it seems far more likely that the writers just wanted to have a bit of fun with the characters. But thank God the fun ended when it did. – Will Harris

2. Ray & Jenna, “Dallas”

“Dallas” is a series overflowing with mismatched couples and people who are just altogether wrong for each other. As it’s a soap opera, that sort of stuff goes with the territory. So it of course stands to reason that the “Dallas” coupling ending up on this list is actually rather harmonious, all things considered, anyway. Farm hand and rancher Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly) hooking up with and marrying little miss screw loose Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley)? Gimme a break.

Jenna had a nearly lifelong attachment to Ray’s brother, Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy), which mercifully crumbled – mercifully, I say, because this woman was batshit crazy. Given the sheer hell Bobby went through with her – nearly all of which Ray was witness to – it made no sense after his marriage to the rock that was Donna (Susan Howard) ended, that he would fall into the arms of this emotional basket case. Worst of all though is how the couple was eventually written off the series: They moved to Europe. Ray Krebbs leaving Texas to move to Europe is a piece of off-screen character development that has to boggle the mind of even the most forgiving “Dallas” aficionado. Ray Krebbs was Texas.

Man, I hope he at least found a flock of sheep to keep him busy on those cold European winter nights, because one thing’s for certain, that nutty woman had to have had another breakdown, probably near the border of France and Germany. – Ross Ruediger

3. Sayid & Shannon, “Lost”

For a show that prided itself on great characters and the various relationships they forged during their time on the island, “Lost” still had its share of questionable partnerships, especially of the romantic variety. But while we were never big fans of the ongoing love triangle between Jack, Kate and Sawyer, the relationship that rang the most untrue was undoubtedly Sayid and Shannon.

Though it might have made sense on paper – Shannon needed someone to fill the protector role after Boone was killed, and there wasn’t a better candidate (no pun intended) around than Sayid – the whole romance came out of left field, forcing the audience to blindly accept that they had fallen in love within a matter of days. Thankfully, it didn’t last long, as Shannon was the next major castaway to bite the dust when Ana Lucia accidentally shot her. But it wasn’t the last we saw of the couple, as they were reunited in the season finale to spend eternity together in the afterlife.

It was a revelation that threw most viewers for a loop. After all, wasn’t Sayid’s one true love supposed to be Nadia? Then why did he end up with the blonde bimbo? It certainly left a sour taste in our mouths – one that not even a cold Dharma beer could cure. – Jason Zingale

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