When audiences first met Chelsea Babbage in the Channel Seven drama Wanted, the tightly wound and change-averse accountant had what could be put mildly as a "life change".
The naïve do-gooder, used to a highly regimented and solitary existence, was suddenly forced to work with the older, wilder, but definitely wiser Lola Buckley to clear their names when they get inadvertently caught up in a plot involving organised crime and corrupt cops. In order to survive, they became fugitives from the law.
You could say it was the case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but "I think being held hostage and shoved into a car boot was the best thing that's ever happened to her", Geraldine Hakewill, 31, tells TV WEEK Close Up with a laugh, as if she were best buds with the TV alter-ego she's played across three seasons.
"She might not enjoy all those situations, like jumping off a cliff or walking for hours and hours and hours, but I think she feels the most alive and like herself when she's with Lola and they're on the run."
The same could be said for the Sydney singer and actress, who was steadily building a career in short films and stage productions − she earned acclaim for playing Cecile to Hugo Weaving's Valmont in the 2012 Sydney Theatre Company production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses − before taking flight with Wanted star Rebecca Gibney in 2016.
"We're so lucky we found Geraldine," Rebecca, 53, who plays Lola and co-created Wanted with her husband Richard Bell, says. "She and I had instant chemistry from the start. And that has developed on screen throughout the series, as well as our friendship [off-screen]. We're able to take more risks with our characters – and each other − because of that."
Geraldine then earned a nomination for the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding Newcomer at the 2017 TV WEEK Logie Awards, the same year Wanted was nominated for an International Emmy Award.
"I'm realising my capabilities as an actor," Geraldine says. "But I'm also watching Rebecca and how she juggles being an executive producer, a creator and an actor, and going to myself, 'Oh, I'd quite like to do that one day'. I see those possibilities open up, not just in front of the camera, but behind it, and being able to tell my own stories I want to tell."
Although Geraldine's formal education came as a 2008 graduate of the Western Australian Academy Of Performing Arts, she continues to learn on and off the set from Rebecca, in much the same way Chelsea seeks guidance and comfort from Lola.
Geraldine acknowledges the fictional and real mentorship parallel is unique, describing how she had become quite emotional about it recently when talking about the series during a promotional shoot.
"I never thought I'd find a friend, like a real friend, during this show," she says. "You work with so many lovely, lovely people in this industry, but it's kind of like doing contract work – you just sort of jump from job to job. There are only a couple of people who you kind of carry on through your life in terms of being a friend, and she's one of them. I just didn't realise how close we would become, and it's really special."
Geraldine says she's learnt a lot from Rebecca, calling her "a wonderful actress and a wonderful creative [person]".
"But she's also a really great human being," the actress adds, "and I think the biggest things I've learned from her are about how she treats other people she's working with, and how she looks after herself while she's working. They're invaluable lessons."
When she meets Wanted fans, Geraldine says it's a pleasure to tell them the truth about the Gold Logie winner. If they ask, "What's it like working with Rebecca? Is she as lovely as she seems?" her reply is, "Yes, she is − and much naughtier too!"
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