Out of the dark
Erika Heynatz, star of the small screen and the catwalk, has made forays into film...
Erika Heynatz, star of the small screen and the catwalk, has made forays into film before - with the straight-to-video George Of The Jungle 2, the tele-movie Mermaids and the horror flick Voodoo Lounge - but as the fourth lead in the daring, unique Aussie epic Gabriel from first-time director Shane Abbess, she found herself in virgin territory. "My previous roles had all been set in the "˜real world'," she laughs. "So this was a fantastic opportunity to do what I hear actors talking about all the time, but which I don't get to do myself: to play with my character Lilith! It was really liberating and certainly working with the calibre of other actors was pretty amazing for me. I was rubbing shoulders with the best. Shane had this vision of what the film was going to be, but he was really open to creative suggestion, which was a real luxury for me. We were able to have a dialogue going and could have conversations and workshop characters together."
While Gabriel's budget is likely equivalent to what Heynatz is used to working with as host of the reality television program Australia's Next Top Model, she had no hesitation about slumming it for something she believed in. "Just like everywhere else within entertainment - TV, film, whatever - when the clock is ticking, people know that they are haemorrhaging money. The difference [with Gabriel] was that we certainly never had long, luxurious lunches with a private chef or a tailor or anything like that. But it's so worth it when the work is of this high standard. The fact that the film has been picked up worldwide just rewards us and the work we did on it."
Heynatz was only on set some three weeks, and there was quite a bit of the film that she'd only seen in the script. So, for her, the premiere night was exciting and revelational. "When I finally saw a print of it, I thought it was just great," she says, excitedly. "I was seeing it with fresh eyes and it totally surpassed my expectations. I'd never really seen myself on a screen of that size before and my heart was leaping out of my chest when my part was coming up. The whole film is just stunning, they've done an amazing job and I think it's magnificent."
Gabriel is screening in cinemas now. For more on Erika Heynatz, pick up the latest issue of FILMINK Magazine, available in newsagents now.