> Gina Morley
Court Clerk Jan Phillips first appeared in 2007 during the trial of the then Susan Kinski, and again in 2008 for the trial of Angus Henderson. Actress Gina Morley discusses her career and time on the show with us here...
Can you tell us a little about your stage and screen career prior to your Neighbours appearance in 2007?
I've wanted to be an actor since I was a kid. My parents owned a movie theatre and I used to relish watching movies every day after school and dreaming about being up there on the screen myself. In my teenage years I did a lot of Shakespeare and musicals, forms of theatre that still fill me with joy. I then went on to train at the National Theatre Drama School, VCA, Impro Melbourne, The Rehearsal Room, and with stage director David Myles. My professional work before my Neighbours role includes: over fifteen films, both features and shorts, in seven of which I played leading roles; work on other Australian dramas such as Blue Heelers; and extensive theatre work, such as the world premiere of Read My Lips - a work that was written to illuminate the depression and fears around eating disorders.
Do you recall how your Neighbours role as Jan Phillips came about? Was it just a typical audition for you?
I actually went in to audition for another role, which they ended up casting someone much older for. I then got the feedback that Jan Russ (casting) and the directors were so impressed with my audition that they wanted to give me the role of Jan Phillips. I was thrilled. The original audition itself was great, Jan Russ is charming and energetic and working with her is always good fun.
What was your experience like working with the close-knit Neighbours cast?
In a word, wonderful. Everyone in the cast was very welcoming and the crew were really sweet too. Together the cast and crew had a real family feel. Everyone was always smiling; in between shooting scenes of high drama there were always lots of laughs. I remember when Jackie (Jackie Woodburne who plays Susan Kennedy) had to pass out in court and Ryan (Ryan Moloney who plays Jarrod 'Toadfish' Rebecchi) kept trying to make her laugh in between takes. But as soon as the cameras rolled it was all professional focus.
You appeared during the climax of one of Neighbours' biggest plots of recent years, as Susan went to court for running down Bridget Parker. What was it like to be a part of such a big story?
It was exciting to be a part of it. The high drama of the scenes and the strong work by all was fantastic. All the actors gave their best, from the main characters of the story to the ones not that involved. There are always so many different plotlines running and I loved being able to watch the other cast members in the courtroom gallery subtlety playing out each of their current stories. Sometimes just down to who they were looking at, or not looking at, in the courtroom.
You returned a few months later when teacher Angus Henderson was on trial for his relationship with student Rachel Kinski. What was it like to be a part of filming those scenes?
Very much the same as before, everyone works to such a high standard that it makes each experience enjoyable and valuable.
Would you be willing to make a return to Neighbours if the opportunity ever arose?
Absolutely. Would not pass up the chance.
What have you been up to since your Neighbours appearances?
I've had guest roles in both City Homicide and the first of the Underbelly movies, Tell Them Lucifer Was Here. I've worked on a five films and have been working extensively in Improvisation. I played the lead role in an exciting new format Improvisation show called McGuffin in the Melbourne Fringe Festival. The show was all made up on the spot based on the ideas the audience gave us, but each show had a loose plotline that we knew. Then each show for the 7 days continued the story from the previous day, like a television series. It was great fun and really had us playing and thinking on our feet!
Finally, after 26 years on air, what do you think is the reason behind Neighbours' enduring success?
It has many factors together, which can be summed up as: great characters, evolving and engaging storylines, and a feeling of coming home when you watch it.
by Steve. Added on 7th May 2011