Aussie sci-fi film draws acting talent home
THE Aussie sci-fi action film Occupation is a homecoming in more ways than one for Stephany Jacobsen.
The Hong Kong-born actress grew up in Australia but moved to the US in 2007 when she got her big break in Battlestar Galactica: Razor.
She's lived there ever since and enjoyed a varied career with roles in Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles and Melrose Place to Revenge and even guest spots on NCIS and Two and a Half Men.
Occupation is her first Aussie role in more than a decade.
"I did Home and Away when I was very, very young. Then I did Headland, but apart from that I haven't done anything in Australia," she says. "In some ways Occupation felt like my first taste of working in Australia."
The film, which was shot over six weeks on the Gold Coast last year, is also Jacobsen's return to the sci-fi genre.
"When I went over to LA I started off doing sci-fi and my career segued in to other stuff, which I didn't dislike but it just was not the same for me in terms of the depth of the characters I was able to play," she says.
"I was feeling like I wanted to do some sci-fi again and I was also at the point after 10 years that I would like to come home to work for a bit. It was really serendipitous."
Occupation follows a group of Aussies who learn they are some of the only survivors of a worldwide alien invasion. As humanity falls under world-wide occupation, they form a home-grown army to fight back against the vastly superior enemy forces.
"My character Amelia is studying law and she's running a local café with her mother," she says.
"She's a very ordinary girl with probably fairly commonplace aspirations at that point. She's thinking she'll become a lawyer, marry Matt (Dan Ewing), have a couple kids and live happily ever after.
"The aliens invade - and this is where this movie was different to me to the other sci-fi characters I've played - and she has to transition from being this normal, well-adjusted girl to being a warrior and learning how to use guns.
"In Battlestar Galactica I played a major and in The Sarah Connor Chronicles I played a nuclear submarine commander. Both of those characters were ready-made soldiers. They were also both already accustomed to command and power. Amelia has always been a forthright person, but she has to adapt to commands and taking not just charge but responsibility for other lives during the course of this movie."
Occupation stars a diverse cast including New Zealand screen veteran Temuera Morrison, recent Logie winner Jacqueline McKenzie, Home and Away alumni Ewing and Rhiannon Fish and The Family Law's Trystan Go.
"We had a really broad cross section of actors on this movie," Jacobsen says.
"There were some real vets like Tem and Jackie with these relatively new actors like Charles Terrier and Zachary Garred, who completely owned their characters. Yes Dan is the male lead and I am the female lead, but it was very much a group effort.
"Everyone helped each other out. There was a real sense of people trying to lift each other."
The film has already been given the green light for a sequel, which starts shooting in mid-August.
"It exceeded everybody's expectations in so far as international sales go," she says.
"Obviously you make an independent movie and you hope it's going to sell to the States, but then it does and it sold quite comprehensively.
"In terms of budget it looks like it was made for a hell of a lot more money."
Occupation opens in cinemas on Thursday.