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The many faces of Libby Tanner

The Mission: To discover exactly who is Libby Tanner when the All Saints cameras stop rolling.

The Problem: Libby has arrived at a TV WEEK's photo shoot minus a vital piece of underwear... her bra! She has remembered her metallic green pair of heels, however, so maybe all is not lost.

Excitedly, she peruses the clothes on the rack. In her chequered career, Libby has appeared on our TV screens in many guises - a fiery, free-loving lesbian, a tough bikie in leathers, a casual surfie girl, a corporate executive, a conservative mother. So it was anyone's guess whether she would be defined by a leather jacket or a modern suit for our photo shoot. The task was made even harder when she slipped into them all as easily as she does the characters she plays.

If you ever meet Libby, don't expect any surprises. Anyone who has ever tuned in to an episode of All Saints or Pacific Drive will recognise her like they would an old friend. Not because Libby gambles like All Saints ambo Bronwyn Craig or flirts with every girl in the room like her Pacific Drive character Zoe, but because she's an actor who doesn't merely recite lines and fake emotions. She makes her characters real and powerful by giving them her own unique energy and enthusiasm.

It was the producers of pacific Drive who were first enticed by Libby's raw energy and that mischievous glint in her eye. They cast her as headstrong lesbian Zoe Marshall, simultaneously launching a boundary-breaking character and Libby's television acting career.

"Zoe was a great character," Libby says. "Because she was gay, they would always take a little more time to write her because they felt they had to be careful. It worked out well because all her scenes were fabulous."

In typical Tanner style, she wasn't fazed by playing a lesbian. Libby kissed a girl in her youth and, as she says, there's nothing wrong "with kissing lots of gorgeous chicks".

After carving out a reputation for herself on Pacific Drive, it wasn't long before the makers of All Saints wanted her on-board. As one of the most popular characters on the show, being nominated for this year's Most Popular New Talent Logie, Libby is a gamble that has definitely paid off.

"People often ask me if I share characteristics with Bron," she says. "I used to like to think that we were really different, but when you're doing TV for 12 hours a day, you're drawing on your own energy.

"I think Bron is great. She's very honest, very vulnerable, very strong. There's really nothing I don't like about her - there's lots that I don't like about myself."

Currently, Libby is creating an on-screen stir as her character tries to keep her hands off former lover Luke Forlano (Martin Lynes).

For Libby, an occasional on-screen snog with mate Marty is just another working day. What would worry her is Bron having a heated affair with the newest doc on the ward, Mitch Steven (Erik Thomson). While she loves Erik, her former Pacific Drive pal, as a friend, the fact that she lives with him and his girlfriend could make things a little uncomfortable on the home front.

"Erik and I are really good mates, and I'm great friends with his girlfriend," Libby says. "The three of us live together.

"When the producers said they thought of making our characters attracted to each other, we said, 'Please don't go there. We live together with his gorgeous girlfriend'."

The Result: The mission failed miserably. Away from the cameras, Libby Tanner is as hard to put a label to as she is on-screen. With her striking looks, fun sense of humour and excess energy, it would be easy to say Libby is a party princess, but she usually prefers to stay at home.

Libby herself, however, only needs one word to describe herself: actress. "I just want to act until I'm dead," she says.

the many faces of Libby Tanner

By Belinda Young
week of November 21, 1998