Catherine McClements: Rush

After her very successful role on Water Rats, Catherine McClements returned to the small screen in Channel Ten’s explosive new action series, Rush. She starred as the boss of tactical response Inspector Kerry Vincent for four seasons. TV Flashback caught up with Catherine to discuss some of the similarities between Rush and Water Rats, and we asked Catherine to reflect on her amazing career…

1) How did you become involved with Rush?

Rush was an interesting one because I never thought I’d play another cop after Rachel. I thought 100+ episodes of Rachel would be it! But when I read the script by Christopher Lee I felt I had to audition and see what happens from there.

2) Did your previous experience on Water Rats help you decide to work on another big action series?

Rush was a very different type of action series, for me, compared to Water Rats. As Kerry I didn’t have to do as much as I did for Rachel, mostly in terms of stunts and the amount of screen time.

3) What were your thoughts about Kerry? She certainly arrived on the scene with a bit of attitude and “I do things my way and if you don’t like it you can hit the road”!

I found Kerry to be quite interesting, particularly because she had such a tough exterior but underneath I thought she had a good heart and could be vulnerable too. The toughness seemed like a bit of a cover to me at times. All of that really appealed to me. She arrived with such a rush too, so to speak, that I don’t think anyone really knew what to think of her!

4) Did you find doing less episodes a year made it easier or harder on character development?

Doing less episodes per season does sometimes mean that character development can be a bit limited, but I thought with Rush it was generally written quite well. There were probably times when I did wonder where it was all going with Kerry, particularly with a storyline in season 2 that was a bit out there and perhaps a bit unbelievable! But no I didn’t really find that less episodes meant for less development, not for Kerry anyway.

5) Did you approach Kerry with the same mindset that you approached Rachel with, or did they require different strategies from you?

I suppose I did have a similar approach and mindset to playing Kerry as Rachel, in that obviously they’re both cops and tough (and vulnerable) cops at that! And they did have similarities in their personal lives too: both divorced with a son, albeit Kerry’s son wasn’t from her marriage. So I can see how and why comparisons would be made between the two, but I always thought Rachel was much more likeable, not only to other characters but to viewers as well.

I think Kerry’s background in particular was noticeably different and I tried to draw on that when I could. She was from a real working class family raised in a not so nice suburb of Melbourne. Becoming a cop was her way out of that life. Not much was said on screen about Rachel in terms of her early life but I didn’t get the feeling that she had a difficult upbringing.

6) Who did you enjoy working with on set?

I enjoyed working with everyone on Rush, I really did. I had a lot of scenes with Sam Johnson, who I’d worked with on The Secret Life of Us, so working with him again was very enjoyable. Our characters on Rush had a very different relationship to the one on Secret Life!

7) What was the shooting schedule like on Rush? How did it compare to Water Rats?

The shooting schedule on Rush was very different to Water Rats. With less episodes per season, the overall filming schedule wasn’t as long. It still had some gruelling hours, but for me because Kerry was office or base bound a bit, it wasn’t as full on. We had some night shoots on Rush which made it interesting but also meant there could be quite long days involved. Water Rats had a lot of night shoots!

8) Would you have liked the opportunity to do more stunts and action scenes or did you like Kerry taking a bit more of a back seat?

I liked the balance of being at the police base with Sam’s character Leon, and going out and about. With Kerry there was more time spent at the base, especially in seasons 3 and 4. But I thought in season 1 in particular she was quite active in her time spent out with the rest of the crew. I did enjoy that, getting the opportunity to do some chases on foot or driving scenes, even if I wasn’t necessarily the one driving all the time.

9) Did you have a favourite episode or storyline?

It’s funny, I think my favourite episode of Rush, quite like Water Rats, would probably have to be one in season 3 involving Kerry’s son James. His life was in danger and Kerry decided she would do anything to make sure he was okay. Even if it meant breaking the rules, or someone’s bones! That Kerry would do anything for her son, even if he was the one who was at fault in a way, really appealed to me. Because up to the point we hadn’t really seen much of her as a mother on screen.

10) Do you think Rush ended at the right time or do you think it had more to give?

As with any TV show, sometimes a lot of the main characters naturally come to the end of their story and the storylines in general may start to become repetitive. I think Rush was possibly at that point, but having said that, it probably could have gone one more season.

11) Is there anything you wish you could have explored with Kerry that that you didn’t get to?

I feel it would have been nice to have seen Kerry in a relationship, to see her interact with someone she liked or loved. As long as it was subtle on screen. She never really had anyone special like that on the show, excluding what happened in season 2! Like a lot of TV cops, she was married to her job. But overall I think they delved into Kerry almost as far as they could go, with her son, going from being disliked to liked/respected amongst fellow officers, getting promoted etc.

12) What will you treasure most from your time on Rush?

What I treasure most from being on Rush is getting to know the wonderful cast and crew. It’s fabulous to work on a set where everyone enjoys what they are doing and that was Rush. Also getting to play another complex character in Kerry is definitely something to remember!

13) Do you feel like in television that your character can evolve a bit more than in a movie or theatre?

Oh certainly! Television lets you evolve the character you’re playing much more than theatre or movies, especially in a longer running series. I feel that writers can really start to get creative once they see an actor play the character they’ve written for! I love theatre, and the fact there’s just one script and you really have to get out what you put into the character. And while little changes perhaps can be made over the course of a play’s run, it’s definitely not the same as television.

I think characters like Kerry and Rachel benefited from being created for television so that they could evolve and become more well-rounded as both shows progressed. And that benefited me too, to be able to get new scripts each week and to see where they were going as characters and what I could bring to them as well.

14) Do you think Australian television needs more action series like Water Rats and Rush? Networks seem to shy away due to the costs involved.

It would be great to see more action/drama series that’s for sure. Though since Rush aired, and definitely since Water Rats aired, the television landscape in Australia has changed so much particularly with all the streaming services now available to people. I think networks are quite wary of what is involved in big television series and if those shows don’t get the ratings they’d like then they may not see it as worth it. Which is unfortunate, not only to those working the entertainment industry, but I think viewers as well.

15) What have been the highlights of your career?

Gosh, highlights! As I said previously I really love theatre, so any theatre is really a great thing to me. But in terms of television, obviously I don’t think I can go past Water Rats or Rush. More recently however I was in a show called Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries and being on that has definitely become a highlight! The 1960’s is a fantastic and fun era to be able to recreate and be a part of.

16) What’s next for you?

Like most in this industry, Covid-19 has definitely impacted me. It’s been a difficult time being in Melbourne. I feel for everyone who has been impacted by it across Australia (and the world), not only those in the entertainment industry but so many other industries as well.

Next up is season 2 of Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, when it’s able to get underway. And hopefully some theatre!

Thanks to Catherine for another great interview. Her generosity in these interviews has been absolutely amazing and a highlight for TV Flashback. Catherine also let us know that filming on Ms Fisher season 2 is now underway. We wish the cast and crew the best!

You can buy the Rush the complete series on DVD.

You can see Catherine in some scenes from Rush below: