The on-screen father that actor Kirsty Marillier always desired is now hers. He may or may not be the appropriate fit for Summer Bay police officer Rose Delaney, though.
Rose started looking for her father after her boyfriend Mali’s (Kyle Shilling) mother Vicky inquired about the origin of her daughter’s name.
When Rose’s mother won’t answer any of her queries, she employs her sleuthing prowess to look into the past and finds an old university photograph of her mother with a South African lecturer named Samuel Edwards, who she believes to be her father.
Samuel is portrayed by actor Bert LaBonte (Five Bedrooms, The Newsreader), who’s casting was a bit of a fantasy come true for Marillier.
“I want you to play my dad in something,” she continues, “because I saw him on stage in a performance in Melbourne a few years ago and he was so fantastic in it.
That occurred in 2019. Oh, my gosh, I have to work with him on something, and I have to play his daughter now.
Marillier, who was born in South Africa, made her Home And Away debut in the first half of 2022 with Luke Van Os, who plays her half-brother Xander.
They both have the same mother, but separate fathers. Rose is aware of her mixed race, but her mother has kept her paternity a secret.
Marillier, who is herself of mixed racial background, is aware of her character’s need to discover more about her roots.
“Because she was adopted, my grandmother doesn’t exactly know who her biological parents are. We are extremely close, therefore I did consider her a lot when filming. She adds that she personally feels a strong connection to her South African history and that there is something to be said about being of mixed race and the uncertainties that it entails.
“In a way, I’ve been fortunate, but Rose is really cut off from her African ancestry, and I think that this really does set her on a trip. It provided her with access to something she didn’t know she needed, and I believe that can always be extremely upsetting for a person.
She had a strong sense of self, but even though she was raised in a strong, loving family, there was always one thing she didn’t know about herself: who her biological father was.
“That might hurt, in my opinion. It can be incisive, depressing, or it can elicit rage. There are numerous emotions that it may elicit in a person.
Marillier conducted extensive research for the plot, including speaking to people who were estranged from their parents, because she knew that some viewers would identify with Rose’s condition.
She explains, “I did a lot of work on what happens when someone maybe has a complex about a parent that they think might not love them,” adding that she thinks Rose has an abandonment complex. She firmly believes that this man abandoned her and didn’t get in touch with her again.
First making a connection with a parent, according to Marillier, can elicit a wide range of feelings, not all of which are positive.
“A lot of conflicting emotions surface. Actually, it may go in a lot of different directions, she explains.
It could elicit intense fury or intense grief. It might mention both at once. It may also be joyful.
Such gatherings also involve the entire family, and in Rose’s case, both her mother and her brother Xander are against her going in search of her father.
It raises a lot of complexity for the entire family, especially Rose’s mother Yvette, who is frequently addressed but never being on television. The conflict is centred on her emotional reaction to the circumstances, Marillier claims, acknowledging how emotionally taxing the plot has been.
But, as I told the script executive, “I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It has been handled beautifully.
“I believe the plot is significant. There are many mixed-race families in Australia, therefore it’s a reality for a lot of people, so I don’t see why it should be avoided. Family comes in various kinds and sizes, which is the show’s central tenet, therefore I believe (this tale) speaks a lot to the programme.