21 Nov 2020

The Mixtape: Antonia Prebble on life with the Wests

From Music 101, 5:30 pm on 21 November 2020

Actress Antonia Prebble says she has no regrets about playing characters in Outrageous Fortune and its prequel Westside for 15 years.

Antonia Prebble as Rita West in Westside

Antonia Prebble as Rita West in Westside. Photo: http://westsidetv.co.nz

The two programmes chronicle the lives of the criminal West family, with the final series of Westside finishing up earlier this month.

Although she is immediately recognizable in New Zealand, Antonia is known mostly internationally for her role in Power Rangers: Mystic Force.

A new mum, Antonia has settled in Auckland with her husband and Westside co-star Dan Musgrove.

She started her acting career when she was 12, but says from the age of three she knew that she wanted to become an actress despite no family background in acting.

"But I just knew that that was going to be my path in life, I just loved it, there was just something that sparked inside me whenever I did any kind of performance and I would always seek out any opportunity to do any kind of performance growing up."

She says she has been working in either Outrageous Fortune or Westside for the past 15 years and the closure of Westside felt like a significant moment.

"I feel really fortunate that I was able to be in both Outrageous Fortune and Westside and there's not one part of me that regrets the decision to keep going with the West family all these years, mainly because of the characters that I got to play.

"Both Loretta and Rita are gifts of characters, in that they are extremely complex and flawed and dynamic with infinite potential to grow and develop."

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Photo: SPP

Both characters are multidimensional women who became even more fulfilling to play as the seasons went on because they had an "infinite potential to grow and develop", she said.

Antonia says she feels fortunate to have been able to play a variety of characters which has meant that she has not been typecast.

The roles that she is best known for, Rita and Loretta, are both very different from her as a person, she says.

"That also helps not to be typecast because you wouldn't necessarily align Antonia Prebble with westie, bogan Loretta, like I know that's not the way I generally come across."

She says playing a variety of roles is one of the things she loves about acting.

"I love transforming into something quite different from me and really having to figure out, go down a winding path, of who they are and how they sit in me and what there voice is and what their body's like and what they wear, how do they speak - that's really really fascinating to me."

She says how she prepares for the role depends on the character but sometimes there's an instant recognition of who the character is.

"It's like slipping on an old pair of jeans and it's just comfortable, Loretta was like that for me, even though she's pretty different to who I was, particularly at the time, she was a 15-year-old westie truant and I was a 20-year-old university student from Wellington.

"But I read the audition script and I was like 'oh yeah I know who she is, this is easy, I don't really have to do any preparation, I know how she talks, I know how she holds her body, I know how she moves her face' - it was just straightforward."

A scene from TV3 show Westside, which has just received funding from NZOA for a second season.

Photo: Facebook

When she started on Outrageous Fortune, Antonia said director Mark Beesley told her to go and hang out at Pak n' Save supermarket in Henderson, which she did.

Antonia said the director was useful in helping the actors to find the specifics and nuances around the kinds of people they were trying to portray.

He told them not to smile unless they found something funny, rather than smiling to make other people feel at ease, since it was more in keeping with the characters.

"The way that middle class people smile to be polite or to overcome a sense of awkwardness or to fill a space or to make the person we're talking to feel comfortable - the westies we were portraying didn't do that."

Antonia says they were also told to take out any filler words such as 'could you please' and 'would you mind' as well as 'ums' and 'ahs' which New Zealanders use to make things more approachable and to instead speak very directly.

Songs played on this episode of The Mixtape:

Alanis Morrisette - Ironic

Counting Crows - Colourblind

Fly My Pretties - Singing in My Soul

Wild at heart - Electric Feel

The National - I Need My Girl

Anika Moa - Marigold