Before her roles in sci-fi and action series such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Altered Carbon, Dichen Lachman had to chart her own path to stardom.
TV WEEK Close Up: Australia first embraced you as Katya Kinski in Neighbours in 2005. Anything a soap character could go through, yours did. Do you have fond memories?
Dichen Lachman: That was the best. I wouldn’t be where I am, most likely, if it weren’t for Neighbours – and you’re right, I did get some really awesome storylines and I’m so blessed and lucky to have had that experience.
How did you get cast?
It really was out of the blue, because they didn’t even have a part for me. I auditioned for Pippa Black’s role of Elle Robinson, which clearly wasn’t going to work out because of my ethnicity [Adelaide-raised Dichen is of Tibetan and German descent].
But Jan Russ [the casting director] had an imagination, and they saw my tape, and I think they were being responsible. They wanted more diversity in the show and they wrote me in.
Like you, stars such as Guy Pearce and Margot Robbie kick-started their careers in Neighbours. Why is the show such a good talent incubator?
There’s no better training than going to work every single day − and also doing that amount of work. In the US, we shoot four to six pages a day. In Neighbours, you’re shooting 25 pages a day. So just the preparation and showing up on time, and you have a green room and everyone spends time together.
Neighbours had a really wonderful community theatre vibe. The older actors were excellent examples to the younger generation in terms of what’s acceptable and what’s not.