Article from the TV Examiner (8-14 September 2002)

BRIGHT SPARK
From The TV Examiner September 8-14 2002

So who is Marissa Taylor, the tart-tongued teen queen of Always Greener? Is she a voice of disenchanted youth? A fish out of water? A rebel without a cause?

"She's a smart-arse!" laughed Michala Banas - and she ought to know. After all, the young actress plays Marissa in the critically and commercially applauded show, which has just returned for its second series.

So who better than Banas, whose character is rarely short of something to say, to word us up on what's in store for the new season?

Before all that, though, there is something we need to clear up. Yes, Marissa has a lip on her, Banas says, but she's not nasty for the sake of nastiness.

"She needs to keep the facade up. She wants to hide her own vulnerability and test the intelligence of people she meets. She's good at heart, she's not nasty - she's just misunderstood."

And let's face it, folks, chances are you'd make a few snide comments as well if your parents up and moved your entire family to the country in a bid to put the pressures of city life behind them. Especially if, like Marissa, you're far more comfortable with life in the urban fastlane than an idyllic rural retreat.

"Yes, she was a bit peeved, a bit miffed about it all," Banas said. "She had to deal with it in her own way, as they all did, but she had to move back - she just couldn't hack it."

Back in the city for the second season, Marissa's planning to try her hand in the fashion industry "and possibly have a romantic something with someone", according to Banas. Beyond that, however, what lies in store for the characters gets a little hazy.

"We just go episode by episode. We shoot two of them at a time, so I know where I'm heading for the next few episodes but storyline-wise I won't really know what's happening until a few weeks beforehand," Banas said.

"That is good in a way, because it keeps it fresh and it means I'm not pre-empting anything."

This dedication to keeping her performance fresh and exploring her character's inner workings is the sign of a diligent, committed and hard-working performer. Banas has been in the industry literally since before she could work - "I did my first ad at one-and-a-half and my first feature when I was six," she said.

She called Always Greener "my first thing that has been in the public eye. For the last five years since I finished school, I've been in Melbourne, acting, doing guest roles and staying anonymous. I've been hanging around for ages but haven't had my face out there enough for people to know it."

They certainly know it now, however, and the public feedback Banas has received about the show - and her character in particular - has been overwhelmingly positive.

Banas admitted that when the show first went into production, she thought public opinion on the show's off-centre approach could easily go either way.

"After reading the script for the first time, we sort of knew it was offbeat and a little bit quirky. I thought it could either go really well or people just weren't going to like it...or even get it. I think it's that kind of element that Northern Exposure had, that's it's something completely different from everything else," she said.

"As much as everyone loves a cop show and a hospital show, they possibly don't need more of them. And so it was good timing for something a little but different. something along the lines of SeaChange but on a network that had the ability to push it out there a bit more."

Ah, the SeaChange thing. There have been more than a few comparisons drawn between the much loved ABC series and Always Greener, but that hasn't been a thorn in Always Greener's side, says Banas.

"We did - and still do, to a degree - get a lot of comparisons to SeaChange. I think that has a lot to do with John Howard" - the actor, not the PM - "and his involvement with both shows," she said.

"But look, I'm not complaining - SeaChange was a fabulous show. We do get a lot of comparisons but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing."

Very true...and if these new episodes of Always Greener enjoy the same success the show found in its first series, who knows - SeaChange may soon be compared to Always Greener, rather than the other way around.


Thanks to Steph from All Saints Always for this article!