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Hair apparent - Replace Bec?

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After Bec, Ella aims for the essence

Daily Telegraph

24 August 2005

SOAP fans expecting another sunny blonde to step into Bec Cartwright's role on Home and Away will be in for a surprise when her replacement is seen for the first time on Tuesday.

With the new Mrs Hewitt devoting herself to motherhood, 22-year-old Sydney actor Ella Scott Lynch will take over the Logie winner's character, Hayley.

Producers resisted the urge to cast a lookalike, opting instead for a pale redhead who is a graduate of NIDA.

"It's almost like this is not the same person, but you hope people are going to see an essence of the character and believe it," Scott Lynch said.

Scott Lynch has no desire to pursue a life in the limelight and hopes to use Home and Away as a springboard to roles outside television.

"I don't think I'd ever like to be known as a TV personality, I'd like to be known for the work I do," she said.

Full interview: Seven Days

Hair apparent - Replace Bec?

Seven Days, Daily Telegraph

24 August 2005

"Mum was shocked ... I don't even look like a beach babe"

Meet the redhead who's Home and Away's new Bec Cartwright

Redhead Ella Scott Lynch has a tough act to follow as she steps into the shoes of Home And Away favourite Hayley - but at least she doesn't have to wear a bikini

Just a few months ago, the future was looking rosy for the behind-the-scenes masterminds on Home And Away. Long-time cast member Bec Cartwright - still basking in the glow of her victory on Dancing With The Stars and engagement to Lleyton Hewitt - was dominating storylines as the soap's leading lady.

Not only was her character pregnant, she was in the midst of a love triangle and was about to be diagnosed with a heart condition - a melodrama the show's writers planned to exploit over the months ahead. Then suddenly Australia's favourite bride and groom-to-be announced they were expecting a baby, and Cartwright informed the producers that after seven years on the show, she was turning her back on television to become a full-time mum.

"It was one of our main stories for the year and we wanted it to continue," says Julie McGauran, series producer on Home And Away. "Bec left within a couple of weeks of us knowing so the story had already been written."

Reluctant to write out the character and lose what promised to be a top-rating storyline, it was decided to recast the role of Hayley Lawson.

"Obviously there are a lot of different ways to go - do we go with a Bec look-alike or totally different?" says McGauran. "We made a decision that it simply had to be the best actor because it is an integral story. There's no point just having someone pretty."

Enter 22-year-old Ella Scott Lynch. With pale skin and red hair, the NIDA graduate and theatre buff bears little resemblance to her bubbly blonde predecessor.

"My mum was very shocked - she was like, 'But you don't look like a beach babe!'," Scott Lynch laughs. "She thought it was ridiculous."

Although Scott Lynch was keen to beef up her resume with a television role, she also believed the odds were against her when she first auditioned. "I honestly didn't think I had much of a chance - you get an idea in your head about what they'll be looking for," she admits.

True to their word, the producers were not interested in someone who simply looked the part or could imitate Cartwright's performance.

"Then we wondered should we dye her hair blonde and I thought, 'Why? She's a gorgeous redhead'," McGauran says. "She's so beautiful and is perfect the way she is."

Secure in the knowledge that her red locks could stay, Scott Lynch turned her attention to the character's emotional make-up.

"To make the love triangle work you have to believe she had a very long-term history with these people, as well as her foster mother and best friends," the young actor explains. "It was important to establish that very quickly."

McGauran says: "She took the bull by the horns. She wanted to know everything - literally - that had happened in the last seven years of the character. She just sat there for hours and wrote notes. Instantly you have such confidence that this girl is going to do an amazing job."

Considering the complicated on-screen dynamics Scott Lynch inherited, she certainly had her work cut out for her.

When her Hayley first appears on-screen next Tuesday, the mum-to-be will be torn between two men - one she wrongly believes is the father of her baby, Kim (Chris Hemsworth) and the actual daddy-to-be, Scott (Kip Gamblin). To cap it off, Hayley is battling cardiomyopathy, a serious condition aggravated by her pregnancy. It is, as Scott Lynch observes, pretty "whacky" material. "As an actor it's really fun because you have all these toys to play with - death, birth, tragedy and love," she enthuses.

While she also finds it bizarre to wear a phoney baby bulge, playing a pregnant character does have its advantages. "At least you're not wearing bikinis," Scott Lynch says.

While the differences between Cartwright and her replacement are obvious, Scott Lynch says the pair also share similar traits. For example, McGauran told Scott Lynch that a critical component of Cartwright's appeal was her on-screen warmth.

"And I think she saw that in me too," she says. "That I can convey innocence in what the character is doing, without people seeing it as manipulative or malicious."

As the daughter of divorced parents who both work in film and theatre, Scott Lynch feared some of her NIDA peers might accuse her of "selling out" by signing on to a popular soap.

"My dad is a bit snobby, he'd love me to be doing Shakespeare and working with the Sydney Theatre Company," she says.

But she's quick to point out she has a newfound respect for her Home And Away colleagues.

"When kids haven't had training, they have this beautiful instinctiveness," she says.

"They can pick up any script and make it seem real. When you've had a bit of training you can over intellectualise what you're saying, so I've had to be careful."

* Home and Away, weeknights, Seven, 7pm

Changing faces

You could call it the Bewitched syndrome. Ever since Dick Sargent replaced Dick York as Darrin five years into the popular sitcom's run, audiences have been both polarised and pleasantly surprised by the recasting of major characters.

Over the years, every series from Roseanne to Doctor Who has left viewers scratching their heads over the sudden change in appearance of a familiar face.

Closer to home, the role of Lucy on Neighbours was played by no less than three actors while rival Aussie soap Home And Away has recast well-established characters before. Foster mother extraordinaire Pippa saw Vanessa Downing morph into Debra Lawrence, while more recently, Joel McIlroy replaced Martin Dingle-Wall as Flynn.

"It's very hard for any actor to come in and take over a role that someone else has been doing for such a long time," series producer Julie McGauran acknowledges.

"But the chemistry between Joel McIlroy and Kate Ritchie is one of the best on the show - they look like a real married couple. In that respect, recasting was a huge success."

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