Danielle Cormack’s Toughest Role Yet
Auckland-born actor Logie-nominated Danielle Cormack, 44, came to the attention of Australian audiences playing a feisty and imperious solicitor in the ABC drama Rake. The character that followed in Underbelly: Razor was no shrinking violet either: notorious real-life Sydney underworld figure Kate Leigh. But it was Wentworth that tipped the balance.
Cormack’s character is a suburban mother, a victim of domestic violence who snaps and is jailed for the attempted murder of her abusive husband. The toxic atmosphere of a women’s prison and the murder of her daughter, orchestrated by one of the other inmates, unite to bring out the character’s latent psychopath.
“I’ve played a lot of strong women, challenging roles, but I’ve only just learnt how to distance myself from them,” she says. “Maybe some part of me, the more optimistic side of myself, thought that I was immune to it. But that role left me particularly jagged.”
Halfway through filming the first series she began visiting the maximum security Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Victoria, where inmates gave her insights into the power struggles and tense dynamics of life behind bars. Some of them introduced her to the particular pain of being an incarcerated mother struggling to maintain contact with her children on the outside. That’s how Cormack came to be involved with Shine for Kids, a charity supporting children with a parent in the criminal justice system.
“There is a logic to me supporting an organisation like that after working for three seasons on a TV show about a women’s prison,” she says.
Cormack was one of the original core cast of soap opera Shortland Street. She is also known for her role as the Amazon Ephiny in Xena: Warrior Princess.
Original article by Megan Lehmann, The Australian, February 7, 2015.