TV

‘I needed a change:’ Phoebe Tonkin chats swapping vampires for Aussie dramas

She reveals her grand plans to take her career in a new direction.

By Tamara Cullen

While most actors struggle to catch a break in Hollywood, Aussie actress Phoebe Tonkin has never been short of work.

After making the move to Los Angeles, the 28-year-old won a role in fantasy series The Vampire Diaries. Phoebe's character was then upgraded to a series regular in the spin-off drama The Originals.

But five years on, the Sydneysider is ready to make a change. And it all starts with Safe Harbour.

Phoebe with fellow cast members Candice Accola (Caroline Forbes ) and Michael Trevino (Tyler Lockwood).
Phoebe with fellow cast members Candice Accola (Caroline Forbes ) and Michael Trevino (Tyler Lockwood).

The actress plays Olivia in the SBS series about five Aussies whose yacht encounters a boat of asylum-seekers.

"I've wanted to do something like this for a long time," Phoebe tells TV WEEK.

"I don't want to become complacent. I love The Originals, but a long-running series can feel tedious."

Instead of vampires and werewolves, Phoebe says Safe Harbour is a snapshot of "real human issues".

"It's a real gear-switch for me," she explains.

Phoebe Tonkin plays Olivia in SBS miniseries *Safe Harbour*.
Phoebe Tonkin plays Olivia in SBS miniseries Safe Harbour.

Meanwhile, the star's next project sees her join the cast of Golden Globe-winning drama The Affair.

"I gravitate to darker, realistic material," she reveals. "These are the kind of shows I watch at home. I don't watch superhero shows."

But for now, Phoebe is enjoying being back in Australia and being able to sink her teeth into Safe Harbour.

The talented Aussie is also hoping to stretch her skills by joining the growing trend of streaming TV series.

"I'd love to work on a show for HBO or Netflix," she says. "That would be a great opportunity. But the stories in Australia are really interesting. Hopefully, I can flit back and forth."

Phoebe with co-star Joel Jackson.
Phoebe with co-star Joel Jackson.

Until then, Phoebe is happy to be in a drama as complex as Safe Harbour.

"It's been an amazing crash-course in acting, and being back home is a bonus," she says.

"Considering how dark the subject matter is, we've had so much fun on set. I'm lucky."

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