Aussie actress goes Old School

21 May, 2014 by Don Groves

Hanna Mangan Lawrence


Hanna Mangan Lawrence is quite accustomed to playing characters who meet grisly ends so the ABC-TV crime comedy drama Old School was a welcome change.

She plays Shannon, the grand-daughter of Bryan Brown's ex-crim Lennie, in the Matchbox Pictures’ production which premieres this Friday night on ABC1.

Not only did she get to work with Brown and Sam Neill as Ted, a retired cop who teams up with Lennie to solve crimes and unravel scams, her character has two suitors: Mark Coles-Smith as Jason, the mechanic son of one of Lennie’s prison mates; and Damian Walshe-Howling.

“It was hilarious,” Hanna tells IF on the line from Los Angeles, where she moved last year. “Bryan and Sam had known each other for years so they had a great chemistry on and off the set.”

Shannon is a law student at Sydney University whose mother has died and father has long gone, and Lennie goes to live with her after being released from prison.

She also enjoyed working with Paul Oliver, who created the show with Steve Wright and directed two episodes, and with directors Gregor Jordan and Peter Templeman.

The London-born actress, who moved to Sydney with her parents when she was one, took two years to complete her HSC at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts while playing a regular role in the ABC series Bed of Roses and a supporting character in Kriv Stenders’ 2009 historical psychological thriller Lucky Country. In Lucky Country she played the daughter of Aden Young’s farmer, where she had her first-on screen death.

She met a grisly end in TV’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand as Seppia, whose throat is slit by Viva Bianca’s Ilithyia. Hanna worked again with Bianca in John V. Soto’s thriller The Reckoning, playing one of two teenage runaways who are pursued by a troubled detective (Jonathan LaPaglia) because they have video footage that identifies a cop killer.

“It took me a while to get my head around the character, ” she says. “She has cancer, is strongly religious and is on a vendetta to find the man who killed her sister. It was fun, and challenging.” The Reckoning opens in Australia in September.

Hanna, who is represented in Australia by Marquee Management and by CAA in the US, won’t reveal whether her character survives in The Reach, an action thriller filmed in New Mexico late last year, which starred Michael Douglas and The Railway Man’s Jeremy Irvine.

She played the girlfriend of Irvine’s guide who is hired by Douglas’ big game hunter for an expedition into the desert where, she says, “it all goes wrong.”

Douglas’ Furthur Films produced the film which was directed by Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Leonetti. When she first checked into her hotel, there was a phone message from Douglas inviting her to drinks and dinner to chat about the film.

Hanna doesn’t seem to have been over-awed in working with the veteran actor/producer, saying, “He’s a guy doing his job, and doing it very well.”