Actress Sophie Hensser talks Love Child, Australian cinema and memories of Saddle Club

I had the fantastic opportunity to chat with Sophie Hensser who plays Vivian in Nine Network’s Love Child TV Series. With season three wrapped up and released on DVD, we discuss how far the show and Sophie have come.

From Sophie’s days on The Saddle Club to Home & Away and Underbelly, to her life growing up in the arts with her parents. We discuss her love for Australian film and we get comfy and talk about what TV shows Sophie binge watches and her fave movies.

Congratulations on the continuation of such an amazing series with Love Child. I, for one am so glad it’s lasted this long. My wife and I make it a ritual to binge watch it when it finally releases on DVD.

Thank you so much. I am the same, I have to binge watch shows, I can’t do the week to week thing.

You’re doing amazingly well yourself. You’re a shining example of good genetics and proving your as good, if not better than your mum Wendy Strehlow.

I cannot take any credit for her, she is incredible and I give all my thanks to her for raising me and to follow in her footsteps is fantastic. She is an incredible teacher and I work on every one of my auditions with her and she is just my everything.

We all remember Wendy from the TV shows A County Practice and All Saints, of which you also had a prominent role. Most recently we got to see her in a funny role for Soul Mates. I would say Wendy is such a wildly different mother to your on-screen mum Jacqueline McKenzie in Love Child?

Jaqueline was quite taken back to begin with when cast as my mother in Love Child because she has a seven-year-old in real life. I was a tad bit older than hers in Love Child.

Your early life consisted of growing up traveling with your parents on movie and TV sets. Was it a natural push to get into acting yourself or did you feel obligated?

I didn’t feel obligated at all and my parents tried to actually deter me getting into the industry. They obviously understand how difficult it is and the rejection you can face. They were quite insistent that I got a great education and when I was on The Saddle Club, my Mum pulled me out of that and said you’re going to high-school and have a proper education. I did drama in high-school and the second I could get an agent I did. I followed advice and went to university, did a four-year degree just in case I needed something to fall back on. It wasn’t something I always knew I was going to do it was just something I always did. I was always very active in drama and I was always performing. I put on shows and made short-films. It was a natural progression for me.

Coming from such excellent Australian roles, you actually started with Saddle Club all those years ago?

Sophie Hensser - Saddle Club
Sophie Hensser – Saddle Club

I loved Saddle Club! I was devastated when Mum pulled me out of the role. It was an absolute dream come true for a ten-year-old.

How old are you now, Sophie?

I am twenty-seven and to be able to leave school back then, to go and ride horses all day and live out all the Sleepover Club books that I used to love. Bringing all that to life was amazing.

Moving on a few years now, you appeared in the shows All Saints, Home & Away and Underbelly, what do you think the biggest difference is working on a show such as Love Child?

I did another series Tricky Business and even with Underbelly, I had a fairly prominent role but it was only for the one season. With Love Child I have had the honour of coming back for three seasons now. I have never had the opportunity to keep coming back for a series, keep coming back to a character and keep coming back to further the story. That has been the greatest gift because we love these characters and I love the cast. It has been pretty much the same crew and creative department. It really is like family and we get to come back every-time and sit at the same table and discuss how we can top the last time. It’s been the biggest difference for me and a huge learning curve, having a break for a year and coming back and asking myself ‘how do I re-connect with my character and how do I bring her to life’? We know these people so well now that it is like riding a bike and you pick up where you left off.

Will there be a season four of Love Child?

It’s in the works and we are all crossing our fingers and toes. I don’t think this story is done at all and I love Viv (Vivian) and all the characters and I want to have the opportunity to bring them to life again. I think the fans love them as well. We have had such a great response this season and it really resonates with people.

On a different topic all-together, when I got this opportunity to speak with you I had to tell my friend Samantha who was my next door neighbour. Sam is the mother of little ginger haired baby Charlie who was Gracie Gilberts bubby in Seasons one & two! She would travel to Sydney every-day to get her on film with all of you. It is such a small world.

Wow, yes baby Charlie! It is amazingly small, isn’t it? I am in Bali at the moment and I have people passing me and yelling “Love Child, Love Child it’s my favourite show”! Probably because there are so many Aussies over here. But I love that it’s reaching so many people.

The ladies are up to no good again.
The ladies are up to no good again.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I just finished a play called A History of Falling Things by James Graham at the Ensemble Theatre just before I came to Bali. Now I don’t have anything on the cards for the rest of the year so I think I am just going to take some time off and see what happens next. I am open to anything really.

Is there anyone you would love to work with in TV or film in the near future?

I would love to contribute something to the Australian film industry, I haven’t had the chance to do an Australian feature film yet. That would be something I would love to do. We are so rich in talent here and to work with an Australian director and cast and crew would be great, we have so many great stories to tell.

If I had to pick someone I really wanted to work with though, it would have to be Wes Anderson. That is my life-long dream, he is a genius. I love his films so much.

Working for The Iris, I really love to ask everyone I speak to what you’re loving on TV yourself at the moment? Favourite shows?

I was half way through Stranger Things before I left for Bali and the only reason I have not finished it is because I cannot get my Netflix to work over here. That show was brilliant, the wonderful throwback to the eighties and the nostalgia and the kids in it are all amazing. I love movies like E.T. and anything where the kids are the heroes. I am also loving The Night Of. I think it’s so gripping and interesting. The performances are great and it’s so dark. Another great one is The Night Manager and The Affair. As we said before I just love sitting down with a great show and watching it all in a couple of days. It’s kind of sad, being away has really curved my binge watching.

Favourite movies?

One of my all-time favourite movies is The Birdcage. I love any movie that you can continue to go back to and have them feel like an old friend. Every year I watch The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz. But The Birdcage is a family favourite. Recently, I loved Whiplash, Miles Teller and JK Simmons were a revelation in that film. Anything from Wes Anderson of course, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel blew my mind, I watched it about five times.

Do you have time to sink into any video games or smart-phone apps?

No, I don’t really. I used to love video games when I was younger and had everything from Nintendo to Sega. But these days it’s more the social media apps. I love Instagram, Twitter and just using it as a creative outlet for photos and putting together funny snaps.

I am talking with Miranda Tapsell later as well, so I’ll say hi for you.

Miranda Tapsell, Sophie Hensser & Harriet Dyer in Love Child
Miranda Tapsell, Sophie Hensser & Harriet Dyer in Love Child

I actually spoke to her this morning. She is absolutely killing it at the moment, smashing it left right and centre. I am so proud and in awe of her.

Cannot wait to storm through season 3 of Love Child. Thank-you so much for your time.

Love Child seasons 1 through 3 are on DVD now!

Photo Source: Channel Nine