Water Rats: profiles

Sophie Heathcote as Fiona Cassidy

Sophie Heathcote

Fiona Cassidy's parents had high hopes for their youngest child. With her two brothers already rising young lawyers, the distinguished judge and his society beauty wife assumed a private education and finishing school would naturally lead to a career in the family law firm too. Instead, Fiona opted to become a cop, living in a converted boatshed, driving a battered VW and dating a diver.

With that kind of privileged background, however, Fiona feels she has to try that little bit harder than her working class colleagues to prove she belongs. She's tough, she's adventurous—she's still a competition triathlete—and she's beautiful, although she doesn't really know it.

In real life, Sophie Heathcote's in awe of her character. "Fiona would function in an emergency far better than me," she says. "I would probably just stand there screaming. She's self-sufficient, with drive and ambition. She had to take on the responsibility of being a police officer and is in a very powerful position. She really is an inspirational person."

But Sophie does have more in common with her character than she perhaps realises. First of all, they both have a rebellious streak—Sophie herself left home in Melbourne at the age of just 15. Then there's the blokey world of the police service: growing up with four brothers wasn't bad training. Yet where their two personalities do diverge is in the love of a life on the water. Sophie's first day out on the harbour lasted eight hours, and it took her some time to find her sea legs.

Fiona's strengths, however, are what attracted Sophie to the role and won her over despite fears of being typecast in such a long-running show. "it's a huge commitment and you have to really think about it because actors dream of playing a million different characters," she says. "What if I get typecast as a police officer and can't get any other parts?"

"But it's exciting to create a brand new show, to get given a character to mould and create. I'm playing a police officer but I am also having a relationship in the series. It's great to be able to show both sides of the character. We are all full of contradictions and you want to be able to show them."

Sophie graduated from NIDA in late 1994 and, although one of the youngest of the principal cast of WATER RATS at just 25, she has already chalked up an impressive slate of work. Her television credits have included BORDERTOWN, GP, the English mini-series SOLDIER, SOLDIER and THE VALLEY BETWEEN. She hopes her recent achievements will soon overtake the public perception of her as the young regular in A COUNTRY PRACTICE, with people realising she's come a long way since. "I feel really lucky to have found a profession I love working in," she says, "and WATER RATS seems to have everything going for it."

Sophie Heathcote passed away suddenly in Connecticut at age 33 on January 04, 2006 as the result of an aneurism. She left behind a husband, Chris, and two children, Madeleine and James. At the time of her death, she was battling skin and pancreatic cancer.