Even though it was over six months ago that Rebecca McEwan decided to leave Shortland Street, emotions ran high when it was finally time for her to say goodbye to the character she has played for the past two years.
“I had six months of mental preparation knowing that I was going to be killed off, but it was still so sad," says the 26-year-old, whose character, unlucky-in-love single mum Tess Hutchinson, was brutally stabbed on her wedding day in last year's cliffhanger and died from her injuries last week.
“I read my final scripts and just bawled my eyes out, feeling all the feels. I couldn't even talk about it to people without tearing up, especially talking about Amelie being an orphan!" Being an on-screen mum to Amelie, played by two-year-old Eleanor Tankard, has been a highlight for Becky.
“It was so fun to get to play with a baby all day and then get to give her back at the end of it!" laughs the New Plymouth-born actress, who also starred in Filthy Rich. “I've worked with Eleanor since she was four weeks old, so I've gotten to form a really cool relationship with her. I'm definitely going to keep in touch."
While she's relished some unusual on-screen moments, such as giving birth on camera and a tricky scene where Tess was drunk while wearing rollerskates, Becky says the strangest thing about her time on the iconic TVNZ 2 soap has been playing opposite her real-life husband, actor Jay Kiriona, who stars as Prince Kimiora.
The talented couple, who tied the knot in 2019, not only played love interests on the show but then exes who had different romantic partners. “It's pretty weird!" admits Becky. “I don't know if I'd be keen to do it again! Not that it was bad in any way it was just hard to differentiate between Tess and Prince and Becky and Jay. It's more difficult to be inside the character's head when you're staring at your husband!"
But the confusing situation did have an upside, she confesses. “The best thing about working together is that we're constantly trying to push each other to be better. Working with Jay was a cool opportunity to grow as actors because we would go home and discuss the things we did that day - what worked and what didn't.
“We're good at taking constructive criticism and using it to make changes, so it was cool being able to have really honest chats and help each other get better?
Now that her time in Ferndale has come to an end, Becky says friends and whānau are curious to know what's next for the successful young pair.
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