Mcleod's Daughters: articles

Simmone Jade MacKinnon

The grand Daughter

HOLLYWOOD? McLeod's star Simmone Jade MacKinnon says she's too old, writes Siobhan Duck

THE past year of Simmone Jade MacKinnons' life has been more dramatic than anything the scriptwriters at McLeod's Daughters could have come up with for her character, Stevie.

The actor's beloved dog died, she had a serious fall from her horse on set and, perhaps most unsettling of all, split with her fiance.

MacKinnon did not want to reveal the reason for the end of her romance with Jason Mamoa _ who she met on the set of Baywatch Hawaii and was due to marry this year _ but says it was a "rough year".

She says the break-up has given her more time to travel _ something she has loved doing since she left home in Coffs Harbour at 16 to pursue a dancing career.

"I am going to Vanuatu and on safari in Africa," she says.

"I love to travel and I am lucky to have the time to do that.

"Before, I used to spend my holidays with Jason but now _ well, I can do whatever I like.

"I have to do all my travelling now while I still can ... I guess before I meet my Mr Right at the Gawler Woolworths or the pub."

Mr Right may have already come along.

MacKinnon later says she has a new boyfriend, though it's early days yet.

After the disastrous end to 2006, MacKinnon says it didn't take her long to literally get back in the saddle.

Physiotherapy has relieved the back pain she suffered after falling off a bolting horse late last year.

She has a new puppy, the Dude, named after Jeff Bridges' character in her favourite film, The Big Lebowski.

And, of course, that new boyfriend to take home to the little stone cottage she has recently bought.

The rest of the cast live in Adelaide and commute an hour each way to work, but MacKinnon says she values her sleep too much and has settled in Gawler _ where McLeod's has been filmed for almost 10 years.

But there has been talk the show, which has put Gawler on the tourist map, could be axed or on the move without a South Australian Government hand-out of $500,000.

Production company Millennium Television has already received $2.516million from the government since it started in 1999.

In its latest investment application, Millennium's Posie Graeme-Evans argues the show makes $72million for South Australia's economy but a further subsidy was needed for the show to remain in Gawler for its eighth season now that Channel 9's restructuring and cost-cutting had left them in limbo.

Not true, Nine spokeswoman Arabella Gibson says.

"The Nine Network confirms its commitment to its flagship drama, McLeod's Daughters," Gibson says.

"We have every expectation that McLeod's will be included in the 2008 schedule."

Graeme-Evans was unavailable for comment about the show's future but at this stage MacKinnon isn't making any plans for a life away from Gawler, or Drovers Run.

She says she would stay with the show for the foreseeable future because, unlike co-star Rachael Carpani, she had no interest in chasing the bright lights of Hollywood or answering the call of motherhood.

"I am 34. I'm far too old to go to Hollywood and I wouldn't really want to," she says.

"I was 26 when I joined Baywatch and even that was probably quite late to be starting out. I am really happy where I am and I don't have any plans to go any time soon."

The departure of Zoe Naylor (who plays Regan) and Carpani, whose character Jodie was revealed as the illegitimate daughter of Jack McLeod to fill the daughters' void when Carter followed Lisa Chappell (the original McLeod's Daughters) out of the door last year _ meant the show was suddenly McLeod-less.

Enter former Secret Life of Us star Abi Tucker, who will play Grace McLeod later this series.

"Luckily, it seems Jack McLeod got around a bit so there are always new people coming forward to reveal themselves as McLeods," MacKinnon laughs.

"I think at one stage they were tossing up whether to call the show Drovers Run _ but I don't think they ever expected it to do as well as it has and so they didn't think about what would happen once Lisa or Bridie left because they had three- year contracts.

"It's always sad when a cast member leaves because you become close working together every day.

"But when a McLeod leaves it's particularly upsetting because you think, 'Uh-oh, we've run out of McLeods, surely there can't be any more to come out of the woodwork?'

"But Abi (Tucker) has come in as Grace McLeod and I think people are going to find her character really interesting."

Unlike Desperate Housewives, where there are persistent rumours of behind-the-scenes catfights over wardrobe issues and screen time, MacKinnon says the McLeod's cast are mates.

"There have been a few hiccups along the way and some tension, but I wouldn't say there are any divas in the current cast," she says.

"And we certainly don't fight over our wardrobe _ have you seen them?"

By Siobhan Duck
March 07, 2007
The Herald-Sun