On screen they play a happy little family, excited to soon welcome another child. And in reality, playing a close-knit team isn't too much of a stretch for Shortland Street's Pua Magasiva and Sally Martin, who have been good friends since meeting on the set of Power Rangers when Sally was just a teenager.
They say their true closeness is the secret to their on-screen chemistry. "Pua is your dream castmate," says 29-year-old Sally. "Obviously that friendship helps, but he's also really, really good at what he does."
The two, who play Vinnie and Nicole on the show, are currently navigating a pregnancy on screen, whilst parenting Vinnie's pre-teen son Michael, played by 11-year-old Duane Evans Jr. "Duane is amazing," enthuses Pua (33). "We love him like real parents would love their children. I feel like I have two families!"
Back at home, Pua has a four-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who is beginning to understand what her dad does for a living. "Now she tells people that 'Daddy is an actor,' so she's getting it. Her mum [Pua's wife Kourtney] is really good at explaining it to her so she understands it's not real life."
Although Pua says he and his wife have stopped Jasmine from watching the show lately as Vinnie and Nicole's relationship intensifies, to stop the situation from getting too confusing for their young daughter.
"There was a scene lately where we kissed and I jumped up to distract her from watching it – that's just going too far," Pua tells. "I don't want her to think it's okay to kiss other people in real life! Or that perhaps she even has another mum! She's not quite old enough to understand what it's all about just yet, so we're trying to be careful."
For Sally and Pua, it's odd playing a couple in love, but it's one that they've prepared themselves for. "Even though you're putting it on and pretending to have these feelings, it's still very weird," admits Pua. "You come out of filming going, 'Whoa, I feel a bit confused,' but then that's where having Sally being a friend and such a professional comes in. She makes sure we can snap right back out of it into real life."
Explains Sally, "We had a conversation about it when our characters made the transition from being friends to being in a relationship. The person you're kissing on screen is rarely going to be your real-life love, so it's an unusual relationship, but having a real friendship means you can talk through everything and have complete trust in each other."
Pua agrees trust is key. "That's easy with Sally because she trusts me – we trust each other. I'm just so grateful she's the one I get to act opposite in this."
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