Joelene Crnogorac: The Man From Snowy River

After the popularity of The Man From Snowy River films, it was almost inevitable a TV series would follow. Finally, in the 90’s, the TV series arrived. The show was popular overseas but since the original story was only well known in Australia, it was was given the alternative title of Snowy River: The McGregor Saga. The youngest member of the McGregor family was Danni, played by Joelene Crnogorac for the first two seasons. TV Flashback caught up with Joelene to find out more about the popular series.

1) How did you become involved with The Man From Snowy River?

I was 14 years old at the time and auditioned for the role. From memory, there were a few auditions / callbacks, and then I got cast.

2) The show was heavily location-based in areas with extreme weather – did that make it a harder shoot?

Ha ha ha yes, we predominantly filmed in Daylesford, Victoria, and it was COLD. I remember the wardrobe department used to give us pocket hand warmers so we could try to thaw out our hands in-between takes. There was also a lot of sitting around small space heaters in-between takes too.

The production had to have “wet weather” contingency plans in place and have a back-up indoors shooting schedule on stand-by.

3) There was lots of horse riding and stunts, how involved were you in all of that?

We all had extensive horse riding lessons before the show started. So we were all competent enough to be able to get on a horse and ride into shot, or ride out of a shot and do any basic horse wrangling. But we also had a regular team of stunt professionals who would tackle the more complicated, dangerous stuff.

4) Do you think the show was respectful to the time period? Do you believe it was authentic?

I think so. We had a brilliant art department team, make up team, and wardrobe team, who researched, paid great attention to detail, and took great care in accurately representing the look and feel of that time period. I’m sure a few liberties were taken here and there, but overall yes, I think authenticity was achieved.

5) What was it like working closely with Andrew Clarke, Wendy Hughes, Brett Climo and Guy Pearce? Did they help you out on set?

Working with all those guys was a joy. They were such a great bunch of actors – hilarious, caring and kind. They always looked out for me and Ben Geurens on set (we were the two youngest cast members).

6) What were the difficult or challenging aspects of playing your character?

Some of the physical aspects and scenarios were challenging – my character getting stuck in a well, learning how to crack a whip, learning how to horse ride and make it look like second nature. Also, some of the period clothing was restrictive, petticoats etc.

7) Did you have a favourite episode or storyline?

Goodness, it was such a long time ago, I can’t entirely remember all the story lines to be honest! Maybe the episode where The Reilly gang took my character Danni, Colin (Brett Climo) and Emily (Sheryl Munks), hostage. Sheryl was one of my absolute favourite people to be on set with. She became like an older sister to me. I remember it was a dramatic episode, so there was a lot of action to sink our teeth into and we had a really fun time working with the awesome guest actors of that episode – Matt Day, Anthony Hayes and the late Daniel Rigney.

6) Did you decide to leave the series or was it the producers call? Would you have liked to have done the last couple of seasons?

It was the producers call. They wanted the character to grow up and mature, with more adult storylines for her, and recast with an older actress. I was really bummed out at the time, but soon after I was cast in Ocean Girl and got to go up to sunny and tropical Port Douglas to film that. So, I wasn’t bummed out for too long!

9) How was The Man From Snowy River different to the other shows you’ve worked on?

The Man From Snowy River was my first and only period piece I’ve worked on. Everything else has been set in the present day. And it was also jam packed with a cast of huge Aussie legends – Guy Pearce, Brett Climo, Andrew Clarke, and the late Wendy Hughes. And also the American actor Josh Lucas, who has gone on to do amazing things. I will always feel fortunate for the opportunity to have worked alongside such a top shelf caliber of actors.

10) Why do you think the show was so popular?

I think one of the main draw cards of the show, was that sense of nostalgia of a time gone by. Everyone was drawn to the yesteryear world – horses, bushrangers, everything was beautiful to look at, the sets, the costumes, the landscape of the Australian outback. And add to that big, juicy, dramatic storylines, and Guy Pearce, Brett Climo and Josh Lucas riding around on horses, and what’s not to love!

11) What will you treasure most from your time working on The Man From Snowy River?

The friendships. I keep in contact with a number of the cast members, but Ben Geurens is one of my best friends still to this day. We met on the show when we were 13 and 14 years old, and we were the only child actors in a cast of grown-ups. Ben and his wife and son, live over here in LA too, and we hang out regularly. I’m so grateful for our lasting friendship.

You can buy the entire series on DVD.

Thanks to Joelene for great insight into an international hit. We have another interview with Joelene coming up in the future so please keep an eye out for that. You can see some of Joelene’s more recent work in her web series All The Way To The Top, we’ll find out some more about that in her next interview.

You can see Joelene in scenes from The Man From Snowy River in the video below: