AUSXIP Interviews Bonnie Sveen
Chadara - Rebel Amongst Rebels


Interview by MaryD
05 January 2012

I'm delighted to bring you an interview with Australian actress, Bonnie Sveen. Her bubbly personality and humour was quite infectious when I got the chance to meet Bonnie and I'm looking forward to seeing her on Spartacus: Vengeance. Spartacus: Vengeance will premiere on 27 January on the Starz Network in the US and it will seen on Australian screens later this year on the GO! Network. Bonnie's character, Chadara, is a rebel amongst rebels and someone to watch out for. Bonnie will make her first appearance on our screens starting from Episode 2 "A Place In The World". Learn more about this young actress and her character!

Bonnie, where did you grow up, tell us a little about your background?

Country. Southern Tasmania. Paddocks, bush, rivers, bad public transport…

Did you always want to be an actress?

Yes. Since performing in Annie in year 6.

Who is your acting role model and why?

I love Julianne Moore. Her performances are always so alive and present in the moment. Her intelligence shines through in everything she does.

What genres do you enjoy more...Drama, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Period Pieces, Modern Day, Fantasy?

I'm not drawn to any particular genre - I guess I love Crime Drama at the moment - watching a lot of Breaking Bad and The Wire. But I also love anything Woody Allen. And Disney's Beauty and The Beast will always be a favourite.

Most actors are multi-talented...singers, musicians, performers...Do you have any hidden talents?

I sing a lot. Not a very 'hidden' talent though. I'm sure the neighbours wouldn't call it that.

When you first started to pursue acting full time you must have had career expectations (dreams) ... how have those expectations lived up to the reality so far? And how have those expectations changed as your career has grown, then and now?

Besides knowing that I wanted to be an actor, my future has always been a great unknown. After I finished year 12 in Tassie (Tasmania), I auditioned for NIDA and got in. That was a very pleasant surprise, as I knew how few youngin's they let in each year… I try not to expect anything. As an actor, all you can really do is aim high and prepare yourself as best you can for any outcome.

Are there any actors dead or alive that you would love to work with and, If so, why?

Working with one of The Greats - Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino - would teach you a thing or two about your craft! I would love to act with Juliette Binoche - we had a Q&A with her at NIDA and I agreed so much with her acting philosophies. I don't want to paraphrase her words, but she spoke a lot about living and breathing your character's circumstance. I love her impulsive choices.

If you were given a dream project to work on what would it be?

Let's say a film biography of Joni Mitchell, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson with Thomas Dekker playing a young Graham Nash… Make it happen, Mary!

Tim Winton is a great writer of female characters but I'm 10-15 years off playing Georgie from Dirt Music and few years off playing Fantine in Les Mis… I'll get back to you on that that one.

Do you watch Dailies? If do you use them? If not...why?

As a general rule I like to, as it allows you to see the performance from the outside, objectively. I wasn't able to on Sparty and that may have been a good thing, but I observed a couple of reruns on the monitor and that was enough to put what I was doing into context.

What's your favourite TV show that you would love to have a part on?

Breaking Bad. Secret Circle. Silent Witness. Flight of the Conchords - although I might die from excessive laughter.

What can you tell us about your character? Is she a Rebel or a Roman?

Chadara is a rebel among Rebels.

What was the audition process like for Spartacus?

Playing a character like Chadara takes a lot of courage. Due to her colourful nature, it was a very memorable audition process.


What was the audition like to make it memorable and courageous?

I had to deliver my lines to the reader imagining a giant Gladiator having sex with me. Goodbye self-consciousness. [Ed: Yep, that would be memorable]


What was it that attracted you to the role?

Chadara is a non-conformer and an outsider, out of necessity. I sympathised with her.

What surprised you the most about working on Spartacus?

The whole experience was different to anything I could've imagined. For example, the atmosphere of those closed-set sex scenes: the part of me observing the ridiculousness of what I was in just wanted to laugh! 


Spartacus is a huge period piece. How have you found yourself dealing the costuming, hair, and make-up? Once it is all done and you walk on set, do you find it transforming or easier to get into character?

Absolutely. Everything you're given contributes to the mask of your character. Including the dirt and fake tan!

Have you found anything to be rather challenging?

You can't prepare for the idea of getting nude on set. If I could go back, I'd tell myself not to worry about it or even think about it. Once you're there you launch into it as you do in any other circumstance, performing.

Did you have to do any special training for the role?

Ludus Magnes, Gladiator Training. Mainly for the fun factor. There is a boot camp on set, but Chadara's attendance wasn't required.

How much of yourself have you put into the character? Is there anything you've learned/taken from the character?

Ha! I guess you could say if born under a very different set of circumstances - a slave of Ancient Rome with no family or friends to speak of. Chadara is all about taking care of Number One which, to me, is an impossible way to live.

You have been working with some very talented actors, producers and directors on Spartacus, what have you learned from them?

You have to have a very thorough understanding of the Sparty world and language to then be comfortable to play as your character. It's easy to get caught up in the seriousness of the life and death stakes etc - I learnt a lot from watching Nick Tarabay (Ashur) and Jaime Murray (Gaia) from The Prequel.  Katrina Law has been an abundance of support and advice and took me under her wing from day dot.

If you could swap character with anyone one on the show, who would it be and why?

Probably Ganny - he gets up to a lot of shenanigans, thinks and acts independently and beneath all of that strength and bravado, has a good heart. I think.

What would you like the viewers to take away from the show and your character?

Enjoy the Arena and the primal reaction it sparks (barracking (Ed: supporting) from the couch, clasping at pillows, if you're anything like me) but be grateful to be born in the age and society that we're in - where freedom and opportunity allow us to pursue anything we set our minds to.

What's next for Bonnie Sveen?

Good question - Watch this space!