TV

Melissa George Exclusive: "The real reason I've returned to Australia"

“Whenever I come to Australia, I feel complete”

There's been a perception that Bad Mothers actress Melissa George prefers to live and work abroad rather than at home in Australia.
That notion was firmly launched back in 2012, when, in an appearance on The Morning Show, the former Home And Away star – who played Angel Parrish from 1993 to 1996 – hit out at the media for constantly associating her with a show she'd left 16 years before.
"I don't need credibility from my country anymore," Melissa famously said. "I'd rather be having a croissant and an espresso in Paris or walking my French bulldog in New York City."
Melissa, 42, lives in Paris where she is bringing up her children, three-year-old Solal and four-year-old Raphaël.
She shares custody of them with her former husband, French entrepreneur Jean David Blanc, and is unable to leave the country with them without his consent due to a court restriction.
As a result, Melissa says, all her career decisions revolve around her children – and if it doesn't work for them, she would rather stay with them at home.
Yet when TV WEEK spoke to the actress recently, all those previous sentiments about Australia seemed very much a thing of the past.
In fact, when Melissa was offered the chance to join the highly anticipated cast of new Australian drama series Bad Mothers – and the filming schedule required her to be in Melbourne for 10 days in late 2018 – it proved the perfect amount of time to "reconnect" with Australia while also not being away from her family for too long.
Ultimately, the actress calls the chance to return a no-brainer.
"Whenever I come to Australia, I feel complete," she says. "This was a great opportunity to come home and be amongst Australian talent. That's why I wanted to do this."
Melissa says she relishes any chance to return, whether to visit Melbourne or Sydney, or her home town of Perth.
"It's incredible, I can't even explain it," she says. "I'd say a lot of Australian talent gets forced to go overseas – that's the way things work. But when we come home, it's like the last piece of the puzzle to fit."
In Bad Mothers, Melissa plays Charlotte Evans, an aloof charity queen who's also the leader of the local primary school mothers' group.
Melissa says what attracted her to the role was that it reminded her of real-life mothers she'd encountered.
"I felt like I'd been around women like this before, so I wanted to explore that," she says. "It was a lot of fun.
"Charlotte is quite fragile; not in a great relationship. I think she's constantly overwhelmed. I just thought it was a great role for me to take on."
Another drawcard was being part of a stellar ensemble cast, which included Mandy McElhinney, Jessica Tovey and Shalom Brune-Franklin. Tess Haubrich also stepped into the line-up as a late replacement for Jessica Marais, who was ill.
"It's an amazing cast," Melissa enthuses. "It's the best cast they've put together in a very long time."
Daniel MacPherson, Steve Bastoni and Don Hany help round out the impressive rollcall of homegrown talent.
"I hadn't worked with a lot of the actors, but it's like they're a new family," Melissa says. "And that's exactly the quality I strive for."
The actress reflects that she's come a long way from that 16-year-old who made her acting debut in Home And Away.
Melissa recalls how she first made the big move to Sydney from Perth to play Angel – despite having "nowhere to live".
"Liz Mullinar, the famous casting director who'd cast me on the show, promised my parents I could stay in her Paddington home [in Sydney]," she recalls.
"So I moved in and Liz became my adopted mother. And her three girls and two boys became like family."
To read more from our exclusive interview with Melissa George, pick up a copy of the new issue of TV WEEK.
Bad Mothers airs Monday, 9pm, on Nine Network.

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