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21st of October 2018

Entertainment



Danielle Cormack talks sex, death, politics and why she backs Jacinda Ardern

Each week, Benjamin Law asks public figures to discuss the subjects we're told to keep private by getting them to roll a die. The numbers they land on are the topics they're given.

This week, he talks to Danielle Cormack sex, death, politics and why she's hopeful for New Zealand.  

The 47-year-old Auckland-born actor has starred in TV shows including Rake and Wentworth, winning the Logie for Most Outstanding Actress for the latter in 2015.

Danielle Cormack sasy Kiwi politics have been "thoroughly invigorated with the election of Jacinda Ardern as prime minister."

SUPPLIED

Danielle Cormack sasy Kiwi politics have been "thoroughly invigorated with the election of Jacinda Ardern as prime minister."

Cormack got her big break on iconic 80s soap Gloss and was a regular face around Ferndale on Shortland Street. Cormack is currently starring in Molière's The Misanthrope for Bell Shakespeare at the Sydney Opera House.

READ MORE:* Wentworth: Why Bea had to die* Wentworth's Danielle Cormack on playing Bea and preparing to walk 100 kilometres* Danielle Cormack: Tough act to follow* Shortland Street's 25th anniversary episode will feature 'cataclysmic event'* Q&A with Danielle Cormack

SEX

What's it like to shoot sex scenes?

In my experience, they're incredibly awkward. You're in front of a whole crew with a camera in your face most of the time, and in other areas of your body at other times. [Laughs.] It's an intimate act that's being committed to film in front of a roomful of people.

Does it get easier the more sex scenes you shoot?

I'm used to them now. It becomes a very mechanical, specific series of choreographed moments. Given the current global conversations around what's appropriate and what's not in the workplace, it's a part of screen production that's being re-addressed.

Danielle Cormack has played a barrister, an inmate and a crime scene investigator in the same year.

Darren Tieste

Danielle Cormack has played a barrister, an inmate and a crime scene investigator in the same year.

Once the scene is done, what's it like to watch yourself?

Oh, you just hope they've got your best side, you know? [Laughs.] Recently, I had to do a sex scene in a TV show coming out next year with someone I had never met before. And it was our first scene of the shoot.

That sounds intense!

It was a full-tilt sex scene, but thankfully it was approached with a lot of professionalism and humour, which is always a great antidote to a situation like that.

You've been open about having had relationships with men and women in real life. Is it true you're not comfortable with labels regarding sexuality?

When it comes to matters of the heart, it's not so black and white. We're all so complex and there are so many shades to our desires, whether they be private fantasies or what we choose to express. I'm a fan of being more understanding of where we sit within ourselves and our sexual exploration and orientation.

Danielle Cormack as Alison Raynor in a scene from Shortland Street.

Unknown

Danielle Cormack as Alison Raynor in a scene from Shortland Street.

What do you find sexy in people?

Humour. People who are comfortable in their own skin. And people who are brave.

POLITICS

You're a New Zealand citizen. Describe to an outsider the state of NZ politics at the moment, as you see it.

Recently, I'd say it's been thoroughly invigorated with the election of Jacinda Ardern as prime minister. It's an incredibly timely moment for her to have her child, given the whole conversation around gender, working mothers and where we're placing ourselves in politics and places of leadership.

I know there are nervous people in New Zealand, simply because Ardern is of an age that's not traditionally affiliated with politics. But it's not often you see a female in her late 30s as prime minister! How wonderful.

Danielle Cormack as Bea Smith on Wentworth.

BEN KING PHOTOGRAPHER

Danielle Cormack as Bea Smith on Wentworth.

What are the big issues in NZ politics that resonate with you personally?

There's a gap that needs to be bridged between the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy. There's an incredible drive towards acknowledging Indigenous culture in New Zealand, but I still feel there's a lot of work to bridge that divide as well.

Our prison system is growing in numbers; drug intake is on the rise; there are a lot of families on welfare who haven't got proper housing. For all its paradise and beauty, there are sides to New Zealand that are really struggling.

You've spent a lot of time in Australia. Is there anything about our politics you find peculiar?

Really … it's a bit of a circus here. [Laughs.] It's not a community circus that comes to town and has a few acts. It's like the Cirque du Soleil.

At every political level, you've got such an amazing array of characters. Then again, you've got such a huge clown overseas in Donald Trump that both New Zealand and Australia come off looking reasonably okay.

DEATH

Your character Bea had a gory exit from the TV series Wentworth. What's it like to prepare for such an intense scene?

It was so hot, 40°C, in Melbourne and I had to be covered with all this fake blood. I just lay there and was swamped with flies.

Because there's sugar in the fake blood?

Yes! In some respects, it was an amazing death. But traumatising, too.

Cormack is on Stage in Australia at the moment.

GETTY IMAGES

Cormack is on Stage in Australia at the moment.

How do you make death feel convincing when you haven't actually died?

I've been around people when they've died in real life. There's no shortage of scenes of death around us, whether it be ones we read or see, both real and fictional. There's lots of material to draw from. I've had a lot of death in my life from quite a young age.

What was your first experience with death?

My best friend was killed in a car accident when I was in my late teens. It was so shocking and harrowing.

Another dear friend was killed in a fall on a film. And a few years ago, two friends of mine – my son's godmother and one of my other best friends from school – died within three weeks of each other. Those are just close friends.

It's completely changed my relationship with death. For me, there's an emotional pragmatism around it now. That by no means undermines the sense of loss and grief when someone dies, but I feel I have a greater understanding that it's part of life.

Thunder Run participants Josh Kronfeld, Danielle Cormack, Caroline Buchanan (tan coloured top) and Jay Reeve in Queenstow.

SUPPLIED

Thunder Run participants Josh Kronfeld, Danielle Cormack, Caroline Buchanan (tan coloured top) and Jay Reeve in Queenstow.

How does that emotional pragmatism make you reflect on the idea of your own death?

I don't have a great fear around it, but keep in mind I say this with all of my health. Every time I jump on my motorbike, for example, I think, "I'm stepping into a life-or-death situation." But I still choose to ride.

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