Playing for Keeps’ Olympia Valance and Jackson Gallagher spill on their characters and friendship

The pair reveal all the behind the scenes details
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TV WEEK: Hi guys, how are you? Are you together or calling from separate places?

Olympia: I’m good! I’m sitting in my car. But I think Jackson is in Byron Bay.

Jackson: You’ve ruined the illusion, Olympia! We’re supposed to be together all the time! But yes, I am – it’s heaven here. If I can’t hear you on the phone, yell out “monkey” – it’ll be the code word. [Laughs]

You must be thrilled with the buzz surrounding Playing For Keeps.

O: Absolutely. I hoped it would be good, but after watching the first few episodes, I knew it was. It’s so exciting.

J: When you work in an ensemble show, you often film separately. It was exciting to see it all come together. It’s great to see the hard work paying off for the entire cast.

Olympia, last time we caught up with you was on the TV WEEK Logie Awards red carpet in July. You were ecstatic about playing the role of Tahlia [Connor’s girlfriend] and said, “I am this character!”

O: You know what? It has been so fun to play her. She’s such a badass and has a tough exterior, but also has a vulnerable side. It was a challenge for me to work on shaping her story.

J: She’s fierce! It’s a real testament to Olympia’s work on developing Tahlia, because you do see so many sides to her. The beauty of the relationship between my character Connor and Tahlia is when the cracks start to appear. They should be perfect for each other, but their reality is different.

“We always have a laugh,” Olympia says of working with good friend Jackson.

You’ve known each other for a while. Does that make it easier to play love interests?

O: It makes it easier when you’re working with a god. I get to stare at that face every day. Heaven!

J: That’s so sweet of you, Olympia – I’ll pay you later! But it’s all about trust and working alongside someone you have a friendship with. The more trust you have, the easier it is to be vulnerable and go to real places when playing love interests.

You guys seem to have a strong connection.

O: Every time Jackson and I get to hang out, it’s great. And that goes for the entire PFK cast. I don’t have a bad thing to say about anyone. I love them all.

J: Wow! There’s a lot of love on the end of the telephone line today! It’s a real privilege to be part of a show from the beginning. It bonded us all very quickly.

O: We’ve become one big family.

A lot of the male cast got quite fit for their roles as footy stars – it must have been awful to come to work every day, Olympia!

O: [Laughs] Jackson got so ripped; it was hot! But all the boys worked incredibly hard and had to undergo intensive footy training, so the transformations were insane.

J: We were all aware of the men we’re portraying. You see footy players on TV every week, so you have to do them justice. For us, it meant training a lot and stepping into their shoes as athletes as best we could.

The cast of Playing For Keeps took on big transformations to prepare for their roles.

Jackson, you’re sporting a new hairstyle in this role. Out of the two of you, who has the most luscious locks?

J: Body hair or head of hair?

O: Oh, my God, Jackson – stop talking! [Laughs] My hair is fake, so you win by default.

J: I based my hairstyle off Olympia’s good looks.

What’s the last text message you sent each other?

J: [Laughs] Well, let’s see…

O: Whenever we do joint interviews we try to spice it up by adding buzz words we each have to say. So today, mine was eggplant and his was monkey. [Laughs]

Hilarious. Does it work?

J: Usually. I said my word at the beginning, so I think we can all agree that I’ve won this interview. That’s a great question, by the way.

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