Water Rats: articles


Raelee's rough ride

When Raelee Hill joined TV drama Water Rats she quickly found herself in deep water.

Raelee Hill's stomach heaved and churned. She bunked down in a corner of the boat on which she was a passenger, watched the huge waves rock and roll and thought quietly to herself, 'I really don't like this'.

As the newest member of Water Rats, Raelee was suffering. The rest of the team had been working on the Channel Nine series for the past 12 months and had well and truly found their sea legs. Raelee, however, had not.

Right when she thought she couldn't bear it any longer a friendly face appeared. It belonged to Jay Laga'aia (Tom Tavita) and he was there to help.

"Jay came up to me and he basically started teaching me how to stay well," says Raelee.

"He was saying, 'come on, get up, keep moving, keep your eye on the horizon and focus on your breathing.' From that moment onwards I wasn't sick."

She had her sickness under control, but Raelee still felt a little lonely and afraid. Although she has been acting for some time, she did not know any of the other actors personally.

"It was definitely a case of being the new kid at school," she says of her early Rats experiences.

"They had spent the past year bonding with one another and I didn't know anyone. Plus they are all great actors so it was definitely kind of scary. I just tried to focus on my character and what I could bring to the show with that role."

Gradually Raelee began to fit in, just like her character Tayler Johnson.

Tayler had difficulty finding her feet, but the Water Rats have come to accept and respect her. The same goes for Raelee.

"I have to take my hat off to Raels," says Jay.

"There's no doubt it is difficult when you start. The work is physical and can be difficult plus, as Raelee said, there is the sea-sickness to deal with. Sometimes we are filming in huge seas and we will be throwing up between takes. It is not easy that's for sure, and she has done well."

Another difficulty for those who work on the show is that it is filmed on Sydney's Goat Island in the middle of Port Jackson. While the island is beautiful and affords spectacular views of the city, there is no getting around the fact it is, well, an island. And once you are on it, there is no just dropping down to the shops for a moment.

"We live out of each other's pockets on Water Rats," says Jay.

"We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together. We have to, because we can't go anywhere else. It means everyone has to get along very well. Luckily we do."

Despite the fact that everyone involved in the series is friendly, Raelee and Jay's friendship stands out in the crowd. They are mates in every sense of the word and they intend to stay that way.

They giggle and tease, push and punch, but at the end of each day's filming they are inseparable and that's the way they like it.

"We are real mates, even after the director yells cut, which is good. We help each other out," says Raelee.

"And we have a good time."

Both certainly had a good time at the recent TV Week Logie Awards where Water Rats picked up two of the night's most prestigious awards.

Water Rats won the peer-voted Logie for most outstanding drama series and Colin Friels, who plays Frank Holloway in the show, was awarded the industry-voted Logie for the most outstanding actor. Understandably the cast, including Raelee and Jay, were over the moon.

"We were looking over at the people from Blue Heelers and wondering why they weren't standing up. Suddenly we realised we had won," grins Jay.

"Other actors were saying they liked our show and that was the best feeling you can imagine!"

By Kelly Baker
Photos: David Anderson
Inside TV