Wentworth’s Pamela Rabe on fans and playing Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson
In last year’s season five finale, Joan Ferguson was buried alive in a coffin in the bush by Will Jackson, played by Robbie Magasiva.
What was going through The Freak’s mind in her final moments?
“There was an extreme anger with herself for not seeing this coming,” Pamela says.
“Joan is proud of being the smartest person in the room. She’s the one who can see all eventualities and be prepared for them.
“She would think she’d trapped herself – that she hadn’t anticipated something and now was going to suffer the consequences.
“Filming that scene was intense. There’s the imagined box you put yourself in, knowing it would be the ultimate nightmare for people, particularly Joan.
“And there’s the real box, which has an open side and is surrounded by 30 members of the crew. It’s a mad kind of chaotic war zone.”
‘I was excited they would consider me!’
People can’t get enough of Pamela Rabe. And not just here, but around the world.
You can put that down to the fascination – and in some cases, obsession – with her Wentworth character, Joan “The Freak” Ferguson.
But not everyone loves The Freak. Canadian-born Pamela, who won the 2018 TV WEEK Logie Award For Most Outstanding Actress, says one of her siblings has stopped watching the show.
“One of my sisters found it too distressing seeing a family member do terrible things,” Pamela, 59, says.
Pamela was born into a large family near Toronto and was raised in Vancouver, The actress trained in her homeland before moving to Australia in her early 20s. What would motivate a young woman to move to the other side of the world?
“Love,” Pamela says. “I met an Australian (theatre director Roger Hodgman) in Canada. He was offered a job back in Australia and asked if I wanted to come, I said, ‘Sure.’
“That was the beginning of this adventure. We have since married, we’re still married.”
Moving to Australia wasn’t a tough decision, she says. It was the 80s, and in the US and Canada there was a fascination for all things Aussie.
“Australian movies were popular,” she says. “And Men At Work were on top of the charts.”
From Canada to Oz – and now to the UK. The rabid love for Pamela’s character Joan will this year take her to a Wentworth fan event in the UK.
“They’re incredibly loyal and protective of Joan there,” Pamela explains. “I couldn’t be spending my time with a nicer group of people.”
Such is the level of fandom in the UK that some excited Wentworth fans yell “Joan!” at Pamela from across the street.
In general, however, she calls the fans “really respectful” – although, she adds, “that may be a version of fear”.