TV

Why Danielle Cormack will always cherish playing Wentworth’s Bea

“Bea is in my bones. I think she’ll stay with me for a long time.”

For Kiwi actress Danielle Cormack, everything changed when she was cast as lawyer Scarlet Meagher in Rake. Within the space of three years, the 46-year-old landed three of the most challenging roles for women on Australian TV: Scarlet; Kate Leigh in Underbelly: Razor; and Bea Smith in Wentworth.

Danielle appears to be drawn to tough female characters. But she says this isn't the case.

"I don't know if they're strong or they're just more complex," she explains. "I like complicated characters. I think it's that they've [the characters] just been drawn really well."

Danielle as Bea Smith in Wentworth.
Danielle as Bea Smith in Wentworth.

Kate Leigh, sly grog queen of 1930s Sydney, is the perfect example.

"She was walking that fine line of danger all the time and yet she was a devout Catholic," Danielle says.

The actress found the story of Kate and her war with notorious brothel madam Tilly Devine (played by fellow Kiwi Chelsie Preston Crayford) "incredibly fascinating".

As for Bea, Danielle says she had an "extraordinary" time portraying the inmate over four seasons.

"I couldn't have asked for a better character," she says. "To start there as vulnerable and as damaged as she was from her domestic life… and then, strangely, find her place in the world within that world. I will never forget that journey.

"Bea's in my bones. I think she'll stay with me for a long time."

Danielle played the fierce Tilly Devine in Underbelly: Razor.
Danielle played the fierce Tilly Devine in Underbelly: Razor.

Fans were left reeling when Bea was killed at the end of season four. Danielle felt the loss too.

"I'm really sad to say goodbye to that character, but it was the right time," she says. "She has left a mark for the other characters to be affected by and that's good drama."She adds: "I get mail every day from people telling me how much they loved Bea and how they miss her. And I go, 'Well, great job. Well done by everyone who helped create that character.'"

After such an incredible run on TV, Danielle will be taking to the stage next year. She will star in the play Hedda for Queensland Theatre, among other productions.

Wentworth season 6 is due to be screened in New Zealand in 2018.