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Symons: Marilyn Fisher was easy, cracking the UK wasn't

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Symons: Marilyn Fisher was easy, cracking the UK wasn't

Australian Associated Press

23 June 2006

SYDNEY, June 23 AAP - Playing one of Australia's most iconic soapie characters, ditzy blonde Marilyn Fisher, was easy for actor Emily Symons.

However, the constant rejection she encountered after moving to London to further her career wasn't.

Symons, who starred on Australian soapie Home and Away for more than a decade, relocated to the UK more than seven years ago.

"I wasn't aware how difficult it would be," said the 36-year-old from Sydney recently.

She was down under to promote the Yorkshire-based series, Emmerdale which premieres in Australia on UKTV in July.

"I was always very lucky with my career in Australia, but it was incredibly hard to get work in the UK.

"Just the sheer volume of actors and they are very proactive in how they get work, whereas here you just let your agent do all the work."

Selling herself in casting calls to win roles was a constant battle for Symons.

"You have to go to every casting and function to promote yourself, Symons said.

"It's tiring and I thought I was never going to make it."

Symons said she was initially frustrated by being typecast because she was Australian.

"They pigeon-hole you and say 'you are Australian what are we going to do with you?'" she said.

"You tell them you can do any role and any accent but they take a while to convince."

Now speaking with a slight English accent, Symons says it took two years to secure the role as Australian barmaid Louise Appleton in the high-rating British series.

"It was really hard," she said.

"There comes a point where you go 'Am I going to really go for this or am I going to go home?' I had to set myself a time limit, a budget and stick to that.

"I don't know how much longer I would have lasted if I hadn't got Emmerdale."

While her initial contract on Emmerdale was only for three months, five years later the bubbly Aussie relishes being part of the soapie.

"I was thrilled to get work and it wasn't even meant to be a long term project, but I managed to spin that out into five years," she laughs.

With no bartending experience, Symons has learnt on the job and says it can be messy work.

The part of Appleton was written specifically for her. However, the writer originally wanted Symons to play a character similar to that of Marilyn.

"I didn't want to (play Marilyn) because I wanted to move away from that," she said.

Symons says being a star in London isn't glamorous and that there is no room for diva-like behaviour on-set.

"There are no stars on Emmerdale, no private dressing rooms or anything like that and that's why we are such a tight-knit group," she said.

"It's a bit like what the Socceroos' coach Guus Hiddink does, we all eat together and nothing is private. I was so nervous on my first day and used to creep in the room and stand near the coffee machine, but they always asked me to join them."

After finishing a 12-hour day on-set Symons says the last thing she wants is to be pounced on by paparazzi like British A-listers, Victoria and David Beckham.

But she has been in the past.

"Once I thought I was being stalked," she said.

"But it was just a photographer sitting outside my house. I never saw the pictures, obviously they didn't get what they were looking for."

For nearly two decades Home and Away fever has swept through the UK and Symons says she is still recognised as Marilyn.

"I have people come up to me in the course of the day asking how Mr Fisher, Lance and Martin are and they were on the show nearly 20 years ago," she smiles.

"Now I have younger kids calling me Louise and the older guys calling me Marilyn."

For now, Symons calls London home and still pinches herself at the luck she has scored overseas.

"In the days of Home and Away I never had any idea of what life would be like beyond that," she said.

"If you had have said 10 years ago I would be working in a British soap I would have said you were crazy."

*Emmerdale premieres on UKTV July 2 at 6.30pm.

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