After recovering from a serious illness, Genevieve Morris is in excellent spirits and enjoying playing a supporting role in her mate Rachel Griffiths’ Ride Like a Girl.
It’s the actress’ third gig in her comeback since she was forced to withdraw from Jungle Entertainment’s ABC comedy Sando last year.
Phil Lloyd, who co-created Sando with Charlie Garber, wrote the lead role of the discount furniture queen whose personal life is a mess specifically for Morris and they started discussing the project a couple of years ago.
During the first week of filming she had to pull out after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Sacha Horler stepped in.
After chemotherapy she is in remission and feeling fine. She wore a wig to cover her bald head when she appeared in the third season of SBS’s The Family Law and the second series of True Story With Hamish & Andy for the Nine Network.
On Ride Like a Girl she is relishing the chance to collaborate again with Griffiths, who was a fellow university student at the Rusden Victoria College (now Deakin University) in the early 1990s.
Morris did a Bachelor of Education degree, did not intend to be a teacher but enjoyed the chance to perform and improvise during theatre studies. After graduating she and Rachel hit the road in a touring theatre company based in Geelong. “I always thought Rachel was a bit wacky and out there,” she says.
In 2016 they teamed up in Little Acorns, the Screen Australia-funded online comedy series set in the world of long-suffering childcare workers, written and directed by Trudy Hellier and Maria Theodorakis.
Produced by Richard Keddie and scripted by Elise McCredie and Andrew Knight, Ride Like a Girl stars Teresa Palmer as Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in 2015, with Sam Neill as her father Paddy and her brother and strapper Stevie Payne, who has Down syndrome, as himself.
Morris is playing Joan Sadler, a friend of the Payne family who became her racing manager, whom she describes as a warm person who injects some humour into the story. Jacki Weaver originally was in the frame to play the role but had to pass due to scheduling conflicts.
Despite her extensive credits including That’s Not My Dog!, No Activity, Sisters, MDA, Comedy Inc., Can of Worms, City Homicide and Blue Heelers, she wasn’t confident she would get the role when she sent in her self-test.
“I was not expecting anything to come of it so I was rapt and over the moon when I got the role,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be working in a film like this because it’s a great story; I am pretty wrapped up in that world.”
Being forced to drop out of Sando was “gut-wrenching,” she acknowledges, but she was delighted for Sacha Horler after suggesting her as her successor. Genevieve texted her ‘good work, lady.’
She’s keen to team up again with Jungle Entertainment at some point.