Tottie Goldsmith joined the second series of Fire as Marilyn “Tex” Perez, taking up the lead female role on the Seven Network series after Georgie Parker left at the end of series one. TV Flashback caught up with Tottie to find out more about the action series…
1) How did you become involved with Fire?
I auditioned and got a call back. They had me audition with one of the confirmed cast and I scored the job.
2) Did you do any research for the role and did the show have a technical advisor on set to help?
The producers sent us to train with a RAAF station in QLD for 2 weeks to put us through the drills, including climbing through cement construction pipes in full gear during the full heat of summer. It was very hot, and I was also challenged with feeling claustrophobic. One of the guys training us helped me work through that, which was great.
They taught us how to tie every kind of knot, and I would practice and practice until it felt like second nature. They also sent us into burning structures and we had to put the fires out… the hoses are SO powerful!
Yes, we did have technical advisors on set and stunt men, so we were well covered.
3) Georgie Parker called the first series a nightmare to work on, it was hot, working with heavy equipment and a long shooting schedule that caused many cast members to get close to breaking point, did you feel the same working on the second series?
I did, we weren’t allowed to have the air-conditioning unit on apart from in-between scenes which never cooled down the set, making it almost intolerable. We continually asked for fans to be put in but that never eventuated.
The food was another issue because they wanted us to look ripped but all the meals were floating in butter. We tried and tried to get this sorted but alas, we didn’t get our way. We had a training rig set up outside and were encouraged to lift weights in between scenes. I’ve never been so ‘built’.
4) Were there any scary incidents on set? Did it ever get too real?
I had a scene where two of us were running from a fire, which was a rig of flames on a large square structure that had wheels and was being pulled by the crew via some kind of dolly system behind us. So it looked like it was chasing us. The cameraman lost both eyebrows and the lashes on the eye that wasn’t behind the lens of the camera. My mascara literally melted and my lashes were singed.
5) Because female firefighters were rare at the time, did you see it as an important role to play?
I see any women who are in power an important role to play, especially when it also brings in physical strength.
6) Fire had a big sexual harassment storyline, looking back now and with the hindsight of the me too movement, how do you think that storyline was handled? Do you think it was an important subject to do in such a traditional male environment?
It is and was an important topic. I thought it was a powerful storyline, but handled in a gratuitous way which didn’t impress me and I felt distracted from the storyline. Which was a shame and diminished its importance.
7) Do you think the show had more to give? Do you think a third series would have worked and would you have taken part if it had happened?
I do think it had a lot more to give but I had rather different views from the producers regarding partial nudity and the amount of sexual overtones. I’m all for both, but when it is done in a purposeful and sensitive way. I felt it was too lent on… So no, I wouldn’t have re-signed.
8) Did you have a favourite episode or storyline?
To be honest, it was 24 years ago and I can‘t remember all of them.
9) What will you treasure most from your time working on Fire, from both a professional and personal perspective?
I treasured being able to play a tough role but with vulnerability underneath and having the time to keep exploring the character.
I think I will treasure the friends I made on that show, especially Fiona McGregor who played a new recruit about 5 months into the show. She has become a lifelong friend.
10) What have you been up to recently?
I went to L.A. in January to study with Ivana Chubbuck, but had to return in March due to COVID. A film I was in called The Taverna was released during this time which was kinda interesting and I am in another Indi film called Rage. it’s a thriller… due to come out this year also. Melbourne is now in stage 3 lockdown so I’m doing online Tap classes, I’ve done a writing course and I’m writing now. I’m in a play next year called The Guys so I’m working on that script, doing online acting classes and lots of house cleaning and zoom catch ups.
You can now buy the complete Fire (series 1 and 2) on DVD.
Thanks to Tottie for an insightful interview into a very challenging role and TV series. You can see Tottie in some scenes from Fire below: