Pamela Rabe | TV Week Magazine 2018

TV WEEK Interview (July 2018)

Wentworth’s Pamela Rabe on fans and playing Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson

Freak in a box | Pamela Rabe takes us through THAT scene

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”.

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Wentworth’s Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson actress Pamela Rabe stars as Jesus’ mother in solo show

AS JOAN “The Freak” Ferguson in hit TV series Wentworth, Pamela Rabe plays Australia’s most-hated villain.

But in her solo show, the Malthouse Theatre’s production of The Testament of Mary, the acclaimed actress takes on the controversial role of the mother of Jesus.

“They’re not that different in the end,” Rabe said.

“As an actor you’re exploring a human being, the humanity of a character and doing your best to bring that story alive for an audience.

“They’re both women. I just play the woman. The challenge is actually for the audiences to flip from one to the other.”

The play is based on award-winning Irish writer Colm Toibin’s novella, which became a Tony Award-nominated Broadway play and is frequently restaged around the word.

Pamela Rabe | John AppleyardThe Testament of Mary examines themes such as women’s roles in history being rewritten to suit dogma and dealing with the aftermath of trauma. It has found a resonance with current issues including “fake news” and religious extremism.

“This is not the depiction of a saint, this is the depiction of a human being, a mother whose son has died,” Rabe said.

“We know so little about her, and the little that is known is only from some very meagre, meagre words in the New Testament in the Bible.”

The in-demand actress, coming to the play directly from performing in Ibsen’s Ghosts in Sydney, said doing a solo show was “lonely” and she was “descending into a world of grieving mothers”.

“What I love about this piece of writing that Colm Toibin has created (is) it’s very interrogative, an imaginative exploration which invites everyone to have their own individual response to the kind of trigger that he presents,” she said. Read More

Pamela Rabe opens up about Wentworth’s tongue scene

‘I know what’s happening is horrific’: ‘The Freak’ actress Pamela Rabe explains how she steeled herself to film THAT gruesome tongue-cutting scene in prison show Wentworth

It was one of the most violent scenes in Australian television history.

Now, Wentworth actress Pamela Rabe, who portrays Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson has spoken about what it really took for her film the Foxtel show’s infamous tongue-cutting scene.

In an interview with KIIS FM’s Kyle & Jackie O Show on Wednesday, the 58-year-old star revealed she had to compartmentalise as she acted.

In the bloody scene, Pamela’s character screeched, ‘You’ve licked your last pussy!’ to ‘Juicy’ Lucy Gambaro before slicing off her tongue with a scalpel.

‘It’s tough isn’t it? I had to kind of separate it, because I know what’s happening is horrific,’ Pamela explained about filming the gruesome footage. Read More

Pamela Rabe | Jailbird Joan

Bea’s parting gift: The Freak’s in the frame

REVENGE is sweet, but it’s not always easy to come by in Wentworth.

Foxtel’s award-winning drama, which is a contemporary reimagining of the iconic 80s series Prisoner, returns for an explosive fifth season on Tuesday.

The season premiere resumes in the days following Bea Smith’s tragic death at the hands of Joan “The Freak” Ferguson, Wentworth’s former Governor who suffered a spectacular fall from grace last season.

Emotional, psychological and professional shock waves pound Wentworth Correctional Centre’s staff and inmates, who set up a memorial for Bea.

Pamela Rabe, who plays Joan, says the reverberations of Bea’s death, for which she has seemingly successfully framed Joan, will be felt throughout the entire season.

“That’s a big change to the culture for the prison of Wentworth and for the storylines that have been dominated by Bea’s trajectory for the past four seasons,” she tells The Guide.

“It helps you realise the world of this drama is a prison where life is precarious and the struggles are monumental, epic; they are life and death. Part of the reality of this narrative is some people are going to disappear.”

In the wake of a stabbing death at her prison, Governor Vera Bennett is under fire from Corrective Services and, with Will on suspension, she is relying more on her deputy Jake, not realising he is Ferguson’s puppet. Read More

Pamela Rabe - Foxtel Magazine April 2017

The Devil You Know

Wentworth Season 5: Pamela Rabe reveals her life as The Freak

PAMELA RABE WALKS into a room on the Wentworth set to talk about the highly-anticipated fifth season of the series, premiering in April on showcase.

While her character Ferguson is renowned for a dagger glare so intense it can leave even a hardened criminal shaking in her shoes, the actress describes herself as “shy”, which is evident as she gazes at the floor or out the window as she ponders then answers questions.

When asked if she can relate to the late Dennis Hopper’s (Blue Velvet) quote on playing characters who plumb the darkest depths of human nature, Rabe says: “People keep asking me, ‘What evil lurks in you to play bad characters?’” Hopper said. His comeback to that was, “There’s no evil in me, I just wear tight underwear”.

Rabe shoots back, “Well, I just wore a tight bun. Keep the bun tight!”

She laughs, but it turns out there’s some truth to what she’s saying.

Pamela Rabe / Joan "The Freak" Ferguson
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