Mcleod's Daughters: articles

Rachel Carpani

Winning hearts… Rachel Carpani is getting worldwide exposure.

McLeod’s girl wins hearts

RACHEL Carpani used to have a theory.

If she de-grunged herself from her McLeod’s Daughters uniform of jeans and workshirt and put on a dress, she would become invisible.

“It worked for a while,” says the 23-year-old, who plays Jodi in Channel 9’s drama series, which returns to our screens tonight.

“But now people recognise me and come up to me anyway. “I think it’s my hair, my curly hair. It’s very large.” Indeed, her hair is huge.

It’s particularly big in Denmark and Italy.

The lives and loves of the inhabitants of Drover’s Run have captured the hearts of Australian viewers in the past year, with the show becoming the nation’s most popular local drama.

And it has grown and grown in popularity overseas.

“It is gigantic,” says the show’s creator, Posie Graeme-Evans. “It’s just incredible. I could travel around the world staying in the homes of fans.”

McLeod’s famously found itself being broadcast around the world on pay television in 104 countries soon after it started.

As of this month, that’s up to 194 countries—and it’s been such a hit that in many places (including Denmark and Italy) it has been picked up by free-to-air networks.

For the young cast—particularly Carpani, whose role in the series was her first major break—it is therefore a launching pad to an international career such as few non- Neighbours actors in Australia have had.

“It does make you feel lucky in that regard,” says the Sydneysider, who deferred her Macquarie University degree to move to South Australia in 2001 for the role of Jodi.

“I don’t know whether I could do that whole thing of going to LA and working as a waiter and giving out headshots, so maybe McLeod’s would be like a calling card if people have seen it,” she says.

“But you’ve got to really have a lot of confidence in yourself and what you can do before you go over there, to deal with the inevitable knockbacks. I may do it but not just yet.

“I still don’t have a very thick skin.”

Still, she reckons she is steadily building up confidence—much like her character, who viewers have watched grow up from a ditzy teenage member of the supporting cast to a gutsy and scene-stealing lead.

“I feel a lot more confident with the role now,” she says. “I was absolutely terrified for probably the whole first series and it wasn’t until after series two that I actually relaxed.

“I mean I’d just come out of uni and I’d only ever done small guest roles and I’d had to move states and I didn’t know anybody. I don’t think I knew what I was doing at the time.”

Just as she was getting comfortable, however, Carpani found herself facing another big challenge.

She is now set to become the show’s first break-out star, with her debut on the big screen in Hating Alison Ashley.

She stars alongside Delta Goodrem in the adaptation of Robin Klein’s much-loved novel about teen angst, due to be released early next year.

“It’s a real stretch for me,” she says. “My character is the complete opposite of Jodi and I was quite used to playing Jodi and I quite like it.

“I had to really think about this one.”

For Graeme-Evans, now also Nine’s Head of Drama, the show’s huge international success means she suspects popular cast members will eventually be drawn to try their luck overseas.

“You think of the likes of Eric Bana—he was so well-known on Australian television and then obviously became stellar,” she says.

“So I would have thought if McLeod’s continues to build a profile overseas then when the time comes you do hope that it’s going to be wonderful for everyone’s career.

“I don’t want anyone to leave though.

“It’s tough because actors have their own lives and I’m not such a monster that we chain them to the veranda posts at night.”

Bridie Carter, who plays Tess—the last of the daughters of McLeod left on the show—also feels the series may eventually take her overseas.

“I’d love to work in the UK and if I got offered a job in the US and it was right I doubt I’d say no,” she says.

“So if McLeod’s opened the doors for me elsewhere, for other opportunities and other wonderful roles, then that would be fantastic.”

By Eleanor Sprawson
July 14, 2004