Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Filthy Rich: Lines pulled from script after Shushila Takao refused to do them

Script-writers had to do a rapid rewrite of racy TV hit Filthy Rich after some of its X-rated patter was deemed too offensive to repeat by one of its stars.

The big-money TV2 series - about three illegitimate children who discover they each have a claim to the fortune of one of New Zealand's wealthiest men - is laden with sex and bad language.

But producers agreed to remove swear words and blasphemy from lines delivered by Kiwi actress Shushila Takao due to her religious beliefs and upbringing.

Takao was raised as a Jehovah's Witness by her devout mother and still has strong Christian morals, which she shares with her prim schoolteacher character Ariana.

Words and phrases including "Jesus" and "Oh my God" were pulled from the script after Takao objected. Several swear words also hit the cutting room floor.

"I didn't think those sort of lines would be representative of my character and it was encouraging that my suggestions and ideas were listened to," she told the Herald on Sunday.

"I am not a practicing Christian at the moment but I was brought up in a strict faith by my mum and I still have those strong values and morals.

"When we would read through the script and I thought something wasn't right I would point it out. It was nothing major but I wanted to keep it clean and quite innocent.

"The writers were brilliant about it and when I did eventually deliver an appropriate swear word it it had much more impact because people weren't expecting it."

A production spokesman for Filthy Rich said the script changes were made due to Takao's upbringing and out of respect for the religious background she shares with her character.

"In read-throughs she would automatically take out any swearing - not because she was prudish but because she related to Ariana so well," the spokesman said.

"Shushila told us she was going to do this and it made the character so much more real."

Not all the stars of Filthy Rich were so reserved during filming of the series which received $8.25 million in funding from New Zealand on Air.

Bonnie Soper, who plays hothead temptress Annabelle, revealed she suffered bruises from sex scenes with Joe Tamatoa, played by Alex Tarrant.

"In one scene where I jump Joe I kept having to climb up on a table to do it," she said. "It was only afterwards when I got home and took my jeans off I saw all the bruises on my legs.

"Luckily I had no more scenes to do for the rest of the week or it could have been a bit embarrassing because Annabelle likes to wear pretty short costumes."

- NZ Herald

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