For four seasons, Danielle Cormack has been breaking our hearts (and inspiring us to more adventurous haircuts) on Wentworth. Her portrayal of Bea Smith, the prison’s Top Dog, has given new life to one of Australia’s most iconic characters and made Wentworth into an international smash hit. This season, Bea has entered uncharted territory with a romance with Allie, a fellow prisoner.
Given our EXTREME EXCITEMENT about this development, Danielle graciously sat down for a Skype interview from half a world away. After roughly 15 minutes of technical delays, during which Danielle graciously offered to conduct the interview in sign language, we finally got underway. What followed was one of the most thoughtful interviews any actor has ever given me. And while we steered clear of spoilers, it provided great insights into the psychology of Bea and the inner workings of the show.
Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage
Danielle Cormack: Hi lady! You’ve been the most amazing supporter of our show! I particularly enjoyed last week’s one; I thought it was a sensational piece of writing.
AfterEllen.com: That’s always so nice to hear. It’s been a really long year for everyone, especially everyone who works for my website. So it’s really nice to write anything that’s positive, that I get to feel happy about. Although, it’s Wentworth, so I’m not expecting that feeling to last.
DC: Well yeah. Are you caught up?
AE: As caught up as I can be. It’ll take me a couple of days to watch the episode and write about it. But it’s been the craziest season ever. You’ve been so amazing—I mean, you’re always amazing, but I think this year, in particular, you’ve gotten to do some new stuff with the character.
DC: It was so on the cards. When you charter a character’s emotional arc, and the weight of what they’re carrying, and the extreme violence she’s endured, at some point, we really have to see the impact that’s had on her. And this felt like the right season to do that.
DC: At the beginning, everything has seemingly calmed down, and Bea is having to live with herself. Originally, when there was a discussion about self-harm, I’d actually suggested that in Season 3, but the writers weren’t so keen on it. I think it was probably because Jodie Spitteri had a little bit of that. But that was more of a reaction, as opposed to an act of self-harm. I really wanted the audience to see Bea grappling with her inner conflict, but I’m glad it didn’t happen until this season.
AE: Yeah, it’s been powerful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen depictions of female self-harm before that weren’t coming from an adolescent. But it’s been a very effective way of seeing her emotional state.
DC: Well, when you take on the responsibility of a human’s journey, as well as the responsibility to tell a story that feeds into the greater world, for me, it’s something you regard with a huge amount of respect, and you try to educate yourself as much as possible. Because you never want to show something like that without checking your facts first. You know those moments are going to be relevant to so many people that watch the show. And the amount of feedback I get every day—people saying how much the show means to them and has helped them—that’s amazing.