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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Sunday Reading: Mustang Boss and Ted Edition

Summer is in full swing, and the Fourth of July is just days away. Hopefully many of you are ready and able to get some R&R over the next couple of weeks. We’ll keep slaving away of course to give you some reading and entertainment options as usual.

Before we get to the reading, we wanted to point out the ultimate time waster we’ve launched that has nothing to with reading. Yesterday we launched our new Picture of the Day feature here on the blog showcasing some of the best photos we’ve published through the years of our models. We’re sure you’ll like this one . . .

As for reading, you can start with our review of “Ted,” the hilarious new comedy from Seth MacFarlane. Also, check out our 2007 interview with MacFarlane, along with a second interview with MacFarlane and Ricky Blitt.

We doubt much of our audience will head out to see “Magic Mike,” but David Medsker’s review wasn’t too bad. We’ll take his word for it as we don’t plan on seeing the Steven Soderbergh film. Meanwhile, “People Like Us” gets a solid rating from Jason Zingale and while Ezra Stead loved “Take This Waltz.”

This week Will Harris has another great interview with Maurice LaMarche about “Futurama.”

As you can see from the photo above, the coolest thing we had for the week was Gerardo Orlando’s recap of his adventure driving the 2013 Mustang Boss 302 at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. If you ever get the chance to drive a machine like this on a track make sure you take advantage of it.

For the fitness buffs out there, Jamey Codding reviews the Sportiiiis heads up display and audio feedback system that will help you improve your training. Meanwhile, our fitness blog addressed some of the dangers around sugar consumption. Bottom line – put away the damn Twinkies!

It’s summer, and of course it’s time to enjoy great beers, but should we be mixing beer and lemonade? It sounds like a bad idea, and our beer expert Mike Barakacs addresses the topic this week:

Some people think that a shandy is the perfect summer drink. I am not one of those people. The argument in favor almost always stresses the thirst quenching properties, which is fine; I’ll grant that these concoctions can quench a thirst. My only argument against is the dire taste. A shandy is, most often, lemonade mixed with a beer. Lemonade and beer are not anything like peanut butter and chocolate. These two great tastes do not really belong together in my mind. But, perhaps I’ve just never had a decent one? Well, I’ve just spent a hot month of moving and mowing and painting — and tasting shandies to find out.

Check out the rest of his article and let us know what you think.

Finally, check out our review of new shaving products, Bob’s weekly cocktail and some sexy biker gear you can buy for old lady. That’s a “Sons of Anarchy” reference for anyone who gets offended by politically incorrect terms!

  

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