Score girl

By Joanna Hunkin

Anna Hutchison laughs if you suggest she is New Zealand's new "It" girl. As far as she's concerned, she just takes whatever work comes her way.

In fact, she could be New Zealand's first real It girl - with not one, but two, prime time series about to air. More giggles ensue, before she says lightly "It's funny how it all goes at once ... "

Already a household name, after a two-year stint on Shortland Street playing the likeable tomboy Delphi Greenlaw, Hutchison seems to be taking over our television.

First, she debuts as one of the Go Girls on TV2 this Thursday - the only recognisable face in a line-up of unknowns. And soon, she will appear on rival network TV3 in the second series of Underbelly.

Underbelly: The Tale of Two Cities premiered in Australia last week to glowing reviews and huge ratings. With 2.58 million Aussies tuning in for the double episode, it was the highest-rating scripted programme ever to screen in Australia since the introduction of people meters.

Hutchison can play coy all she likes - she is kind of a big deal.

In between all this, she also starred in the New Zealand-made American production Legend of the Seeker, a big-budget series based on the hugely popular books by Terry Goodkind.

And played the Yellow Cheetah Ranger in Power Rangers Jungle Fury, also filmed in New Zealand.

All this, before her 23rd birthday.

Actually, that's something she would like to clear up. Despite having been around a while - first on Shortland Street and later in Orange Roughies and Ride With the Devil - Hutchison is only 23. Her birthday was last Sunday.

"Everyone wants to me to be really old," she exclaims animatedly. "But I'm not. There's a lot of funny stuff on the internet. People need to get their facts right."

Speaking from the set of Underbelly in Australia, the freckle-faced brunette (who turned blond for Go Girls) isn't allowed to say much about the Aussie crime drama, which is still in production.

She's been there since October, having spent the winter filming Go Girls on Auckland's North Shore.

"It's funny, on Go Girls we were shooting in bikinis on Takapuna beach in the freezing cold. Then on this one, I'm wearing fur coats in 40-degree temperatures. I keep thinking, 'Blast! Why couldn't I have had this, then'."

Underbelly, set between Sydney and Melbourne in the late 70s and 80s, is the tale of Robert "Aussie Bob" Trimbole and Terry "Mr Asia" Clarke - otherwise known as New Zealand's most notorious druglord.

Hutchison plays the role of Alison Dine, a kindergarten teacher from Rotorua who became Clarke's mistress and heroin mule.

The character is the polar opposite to her Go Girls role, in which Hutchison plays the alpha-female, fortune-seeking Amy.

"They're really different. I'm very lucky as an actress to be able to do that.

"The writing on each show is quite different and the idea behind each show is quite different. Go Girls is a fun, heartfelt series about the trials and tribulations of three girls and their mate Kev.

"And [Underbelly's] based on true events and is much more serious."

She denies having a favourite series between the two, but later admits she loved making Go Girls.

"It was a lot of fun and we made great friendships."

Even after Go Girls wrapped filming and Hutchison jumped the ditch, the three girls have stayed in touch.

Hutchison is a little sad she won't be able to come home for the series premiere on Thursday to watch it with co-stars Alix Bushnell and Bronwyn Turei but says she will talk to them on the night.

"We'll probably have a little chat during the ad break," she laughs.

"There were a few screenings during filming and we would watch it together, holding each others' hands. It's really exciting the product is going to air and your family and friends, who have been there all along, will get to see why you weren't around for so many weeks."

She's also looking forward to people seeing the outrageous outfits the wardrobe department produced - which were a constant source of amusement and bemusement for the actress.

"Some of the outfits were just so stupid, it was funny. You kind of just throw up your hands and go 'whatever'. One of my outfits - that they must have been having a laugh with - was a pink leather minidress. It's just the most awful thing, that I would never, never wear.

"And one of my outfits was like an ice-skating champion dress. It's just the worst!"

She doesn't discuss her Underbelly wardrobe but press shots reveal there's not much to it.

The first series earned a reputation for its realistic, often graphic, approach to violence and sex - and the second series is no different. In fact, writers Peter Gawler and Greg Haddrick admitted there is more nudity and sex than in the original.

It's fair to say then, we're going to be seeing a lot more of Hutchison in the future.

LOWDOWN
Who: Anna Hutchison
Born: February 8, 1986
What: Plays Amy in Go Girls and Alison Dine in Underbelly: Tale of Two Cities
When: Go Girls premieres Thursday, 8.30pm on TV2; Underbelly starts on TV3 next month
Previous roles: Delphi Greenlaw on Shortland Street (2002-2004); Pony on Ride With the Devil (2007); Anja on Orange Roughies (2007)

- NZ Herald

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