Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jane Harber

Today I'm going to learn about the actress Jane Harber. She plays Zara on Offspring and Cora on A Moody Christmas.  I'm using present tense, because as far as I know Offspring hasn't been officially canceled yet.

Crap. I just Googled. According to this article, the show HAS been canceled.  As I said before, though, it had a really good finale. I think it ended at a good point. But still...I'll miss it.


Back to Jane Harber. In the two shows I've seen her in, her two characters seemed very similar. They had the same type of personality. I think there's good and bad in that. The good is if you like a character, it's nice to see them resurrected into another show. I like Zara, so it was nice to see her kind of reappear in A Moody Christmas.  The bad would be...maybe typecasting? Or maybe I'd wonder whether or not the actor had a wide enough range.

I think the good trumps the bad though. Since I'm so into Doctor Who, there'd be something reassuring about seeing one of the departed actors play a very similar role in another show. Or at least have a similar type of personality. For example, right now I have no interest in seeing David Tennant play a serious detective with an American accent. Just seeing the trailer for the show was a bit dreadful.

It could go the other way, though. If you don't like a character, it might be refreshing when you see the same actor playing someone that's more appealing to you. I can't think of any examples of this offhand. Instead I'm thinking of another example of the other thing. Michael Gambon!  It was awful seeing Dumbeldore as a dying, blah king in The King's Speech. Things like that should be outlawed.

I'm joking, of course. I imagine it would be boring for an actor to always play the same type of character.

And I'm totally neglecting Jane Harber now. Sorry about that.

Let me get back to her. I'm guessing she's played other characters besides Cora and Zara. Are these other characters like Cora and Zara?

I'm trying to figure out how I'd describe Cora/Zara? They're kind of snarky, but in a quiet subtle way. Maybe sarcastic too. Their sense of humor is dry. They're not the type of people who'd go off on long hurtful comedic rants. They're more the type who'd sting with a simple look or a quiet word or two.

Now I'm going to look at Jane Harber's biography page on IMDb.  I'm doubting there's going to be much there. But I could end up being wrong.

No, I'm not wrong. There's not much there. Actually, there's really nothing biographical there.

So I'll just move onto her filmography.

Jane Harber's first screen thing was in 1997.  She was in a TV movie called The Last of The Ryans.

When I consulted Lord Wiki about the movie, he told me it was about Ronald Ryan, the last person to be executed in Australia.  Jane Harber played a character named Lyn Hughan. I Googled her and couldn't easily find anything.

So...I'm going to move onto the next thing.

Or the thing after the next thing. As I've said in other biography posts, I skip over stuff if I can't find much about it, or if it's a one time appearance in a TV show I don't watch.

In the end of 1997 and the beginning of 1998, Harber was in three episodes of a TV show called Raw FM.   Lord Wiki says it was about an independent radio station.

From 1999-2002, Harber appeared in Neighbours as Bianca Nugent.  Strangely, the Perfect Blend website doesn't have much to say about her. I thought that website had something to say about everything—even characters who were on only one episode. Or maybe I'm thinking of the Home and Away (Back to the Bay) site.

When I was Googling to find information about Bianca Nugent, I saw some goodies from Google Images. That led me to this website.  It has a picture of Bianca. It's like seeing Cora/Zara in her childhood days.

Here's Harber's last episode of Neighbours. I'm going to zoom through it and see if I see her.

I flipped through many scenes and didn't see her. So maybe IMDb made a mistake about her being in that episode? Or maybe her part was so small I missed it?

I tried plugging in several other episodes, Harber is supposed to be in, into the YouTube search thingie. I'm not seeing them. I guess I'll move on.

At least I got to see that one photo.

Harber's filmography goes a bit quiet for three years.  Then in 2005, she was in two episodes of the 4th season of The Secret Life of Us. She played someone named Zdenka.

Someone has uploaded one of the episodes onto YouTube. Harber appears right away in the video. I think it's a what-happened-last-episode segment.

And Ben Mendelsohn is in the episode. Maybe he'd be the example I needed in the beginning of this post. So far, I've only seen him play creepy guys and assholes. It would be refreshing to see him portray a character I liked.

I wonder if his character in The Secret Life of Us is decent. He LOOKS like an asshole, but that could just be because that's how I think of Mendelsohn's face now.  It might take some work for me to see that face differently.

There's more of Harber at 5:58 in the video.  She's a little bit Cora/Zara in that scene, but somewhat different. Maybe.

After The Secret Life of Us, there's another three year gap in Harber's filmography. Was she busy with other stuff or not having luck with auditions?

In 2008, Harber played Susie Moloney in ten episodes of Underbelly.

The only Australian Susie Moloney I could find is this woman who works in urban design.

I expected to find someone else, because I thought characters in Underbelly were real people—newsworthy real people. I mean not that urban design isn't newsworthy. But I was picturing a criminal, or a victim of a crime. Or someone connected to crime in some way.

In 2009, Harber starred with Richard Davies in a short film called Oxygen. Later the two actors would play a couple together on Offspring.  Unfortunately, I can't find a video of Oxygen online.

In 2010, Harber began her Offspring years. According to IMDb, she was in all 66 episodes of the show.

Hopefully later I'll find some articles and/or interviews about her time on the show.

While still a star of Offspring, in 2012, Harber did her work on A Moody Christmas.  That lasted for only six episodes; but the show returned as The Moody's in 2008.  I hope to watch that someday.

In 2013, Harber was in three episodes of a TV show called The Elegant Gentleman's Guide to Knife fighting.  According to IMDb, it's a sketch comedy thing.

Patrick Brammall is one of the stars. He's also been with Harber on Offspring and the Moody stuff! I like him a lot.

Recently, Harber was in a TV miniseries about INXS.  She played Michelle Bennett, a girlfriend of Michael Hutchence.

Here's a trailer about the miniseries.

When I hear INXS, I think of The Lost Boys.

That might be Harber in the video at 1:25. But I'm not sure. It's very fast and I can't see her face.

Harber was featured in a Sydney Morning Herald article about underrated talent.  They provide some biographical information.  At the time of the article (2012) she was 27. So now she's probably 29. And she would have been born in 1985, probably.

As a teenager, she went to Wesley College and participated in a theater group called Handspan Theatre.  Lord Wiki says it was a puppetry thing.  With Handspan Theatre, Harber toured South America and Thailand.  That's pretty exciting. She was only 13 at the time.

Here's an interview with Harber.  I'm not sure I understand what Harber is saying here. She compares Australian comedy to not-Australian comedy. She says, I do love a lot of comedy, from overseas, but sometimes you're expected to laugh and I don't think that happens a lot with Australian comedy and that's probably because we're cutting people down all the time.

I think American comedy cuts people down a lot. I haven't watched a lot of British comedy. I think the only thing I've seen is Life's Too Short, and that cut people down a lot too. Unless I'm missing the definition of cutting people down. It's making fun of them. Right?  Does Australia do that more than other shows.

As for being expected to laugh, isn't that the point of comedy?

I think what can be extra awkward is when there's canned laughter. Sometimes I hear the laughing and I'm not laughing along.  It drives home the point that I'm not amused. But there's still an awkwardness even without the canned laughter. Today I watched the first episode of John Saffron's Race Relations. I found it mildly interesting, but at no point did I laugh aloud. I'm not even sure I smiled.  I suppose that's okay, but my feeling is comedy works best when it actually makes you laugh. I'm not saying John Saffron's show wasn't funny. I'm sure it's hilarious to some people, and they fall down laughing hysterically.  But for me, the show wasn't very funny, and therefore I feel it failed to work for me. I'm going to give it a few more tries, though.

Am I wrong though?  Does comedy not need to make you laugh?

Harber says that while the filming of Offspring took place in Melbourne, A Moody Christmas was filmed in Sydney.  I had imagined they were filmed at different times of the year; but Harber  talks about having to travel back and forth. And there was one day where she filmed Offspring in the morning and a scene from A Moody Christmas in the afternoon. Wow! That's intense.

Here's another interview. It's from 2011.

Harber says she wets her pants on set most days—meaning she's often very amused. It would be kind of funny, though, if she was actually being literal.  See, but yeah. I think comedy should make you laugh so hard, you're close to wetting your pants. And if you really wet your pants, that's fine too. I mean because maybe that's better than watching a comedy and just staring at the screen, not even smiling.

The interviewer asks Harber if she's like Zara. She answers, I think I'd like to be a little more like Zara. I love that she can speak her mind. I guess I have more of a filter.  That's interesting because I feel Zara has a filter. She's not one of those chatty girls who blurts out everything in her mind. I think there's a quietness to her. I think she'll sometimes say what's on her mind, but she's more likely to express negative feelings than positive. And I see her as someone who's more likely to share her opinions about other people than reveal things about herself.

There's a fertility website with an interview with Harber. It's called Debunking Ovulation. What's that all about?

I think it's trying to help people become more fertile. Maybe.

Well, I just dug around a bit and am seeing it's brought to us by a woman who practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine. It's an alternative health type thing.  I guess Harber is into that.

Harber is asked what she'd tell her younger self in regards to health. Harber says, That feeling ashamed of your body is a waste of time and incredibly destructive.  I agree with both those sentiments, but I think it's very hard not to feel that way. I hate seeing my body in the mirror because it doesn't match that of my favorite characters I see on television.

I watched a good episode of All Saints about that yesterday. There was a young man on steroids.  The drugs turned him from a darling son to an angry and violent man. They messed with his liver and heart. Eventually, he could die. Why would someone do that?

The guy on the show explained why he was doing it, and it made a lot of sense. First he pointed out that when he first came into the hospital ward, the nurses made comments about his hot bod. Before he took the steroids, he wasn't noticed and spent most of his time at home watching TV. He was a loser.

I actually like that kind of loser. I like geeky guys. But there's still the idea that if you want to be an attractive man, you need to be very muscular.  And if you want to be in the pretty-women club, you have to be very skinny.

I feel it's hard to get over that.

One way to deal with it is to tell ourselves that looks don't matter.  It's what's on the inside that counts.  But I think that's kind of bullshit. Physical beauty is important. If not, why do we have thousands of pictures online of beaches, sunsets, and gorgeous buildings. Why do we have photos of adorable animals? If beauty counts with those things, why wouldn't it count in human beings?

Our personality does matter more than our appearance, but I don't think it helps to lie to ourselves and proclaim that looks don't matter at all.

I think what's more helpful is to widen the definition of physical beauty.  I wish I could look in the mirror when I'm naked and say Oh, cool. Look at that awesome hunchback! rather than oh...crap. Let me try to stand up straighter. No, that's not working. Nothing works. I'm stuck like this.  Shit. Shit. Shit.  I'm so ugly. 

Maybe I need to watch The Hunchback of Notre Damn, and Quasimodo can be my role model. He is actually kind of cute.

I'm not sure how we could widen the definition of physical beauty. I think one place to start, though, is having more variety on TV and film characters. I say this because I watch a lot of television. For a sports or music fan, it's probably helpful to have more variety in athlete and rock star bodies.

I should get back to the interview. Let's see....

Harber likes playing the piano, painting, taking long walks near the water, and sunshine.  Well, these are the things that help her de-stress.

Her favorite snacks are carrots, almonds, and olives.  I like all those things, plus a lot of not-so-healthy things as well.

Now I'm looking at Harber's Twitter page.  Her last Tweet was on September 24. She said, Prep. Miss Martin. Rounders. That's where it's at.  I have no idea what that means. But it's in response to a guy named Andrew Rainbow, who Tweeted, I love that you are famous now. Maybe Andrew Rainbow is someone who knew Harber before the fame thing hit.

Maybe Rainbow and Harber were in school together? And maybe they had a teacher named Miss Martin?

On September 2, there's a Twitter conversation between Harber and a woman named Annie Maynard.  They seem to be missing each other a lot. They're separated by an ocean. Maynard was very impressed with Harber's birthing scene in Offspring.  And it seems Maynard is in something that Harber has been watching. UMB?  I'm guessing that's an abbreviation for something?

I should just look up Annie Maynard. Maybe I'll find the answer.

Ah! Here we go. It's Upper Middle Bogan.  I somehow assumed Maynard was the one overseas and UMB would be an overseas show. But no. It's Australian. So maybe it's Harber that's overseas right now.

Anyway, I think I'm going to end this here and go play some Minecraft. Jack downloaded a Doctor Who mod for me yesterday. Now I get to be chased by Daleks.


  1. I searched for Jane Harber and your blog popped up! Offspring is currently my favorite TV show. I hate it when a show ends, and I think that no other show can top it, like when I finished Packed To The Rafters and thought, OH NO, I've exhausted all the good Australian TV shows. Which brings me to Nina, whose fantasies of the best and worse that can happen in a social situation flash through her mind. It's such a human thing to do. It's crippling at times. Literally, because Nina bumps into things when she's doing it.

    The characters and plotting are perfect. Real people, often really neurotic people and real family love. And Eddie Perfect, is that really his name. Even the theme song, When We Swam, is perfect for the show!

    Why does American TV suck so much. Australians stick a couple buildings in their settings, no glitz, glamour, or special effects, but great stories about people that could be real, people that you would like to know, and then they produce shows that you don't want to end.

    Happy New Year!


  2. Hi Again, Michael!

    That's funny that my blog popped up. I think I'm up there on Google when it comes to Jane Harber. I get a fair amount of traffic from that post.

    I love Offspring too! What season are you on? Did you know the show ended; but now they're bringing it back. It's pretty exciting.

    I too love all of Nina's fantasies...daydreams.

    I'll have to disagree with you about American television. I think we have some great shows. We just caught up with The Mindy Project. Like Offspring, the main character is an ob-gyn. Also, the show is full of very quirky characters. Mindy's much different than Nina—less neurotic and has a huge appetite for both sex and food.

    Past shows we loved are Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. Did you ever watch any of those?

    Also, since you like the Jonathan Shiff shows, have you tried any of the American alternatives? iCarly, Drake and Josh, Victorious, the modernized Electric Company...

    My son also watched a few shows that I didn't watch, but he love/loved—Gravity Falls, Phinneas and Herb, and Wizards of Waverley Place. I think the latter is very much like a Shiff Show.

  3. There are some U.S. shows I've enjoyed--Lie To Me, Psych, Fringe, The United States of Tara (Netflix), but have been disappointed by over-the-air network shows. Two of my favorites, Harry's Law and About A Boy, were cancelled.

    I'm not much into kid shows with the exception of Shiff's mermaid shows (and Reef Doctors), probably because I love the ocean and spent 5 years navigating a boat between shore and an island in the Gulf.

    I just started season 4 of Offspring and plan to try Mindy at some point. I also read that Ten Network ran out of money, but soon, season 6 of Offspring will be produced!

  4. Michael,

    It's very annoying when shows are canceled.

    That's very cool about your boat. Wow!

    I'm not sure if I knew that about the Ten Network running out of money. It sound vaguely familar. I'm glad, though, that Offspring will be returning.

  5. Dina,

    I remember Julie Rafter saying that finishing a good book is like losing a friend! It's like that with a good series, too.

    Here's the scoop from Wikipedia on Offspring:

    "On 3 October 2014, John Edwards confirmed that due to the Network Ten's in-house production company is running out of money, Offspring would not return for a sixth series. On that occasion the network will face cost-cutting measures in Ten's production division."

    "On October 20, 2014, caller Nathan reported on 3AW's Word on the Street segment that with Ten's in-house studio running out of money due to cost-cutting measures at the network, Party Tricks would not return for a second series and that Edwards and Banks were looking at resurrecting the series Offspring."

    On August 30, 2015, The Herald Sun (Victoria) reported that a sixth season of Offspring will be made - returning after a two-year hiatus."

    On September 20 2015, Ten confirmed that Offspring will return for a sixth season in 2016."

    Yeah, the boat was wonderful. I logged 30K miles on daily trips back and forth to North Captiva Island, sometimes in fog, stormy seas and moonlight. I miss it!


  6. Michael,

    Do you think you'll ever go back to boating?

    Thanks for the Offspring information.

    I completely agree about ending a book or series is like losing a friend.

    I've had many sad goodbyes. I think one of the worst is when I struggle to find something to replace it.

  7. Dina,

    Yeah, it really is a struggle to find a new show. I burned out Netflix after a couple of years and switched to Hulu. I don't watch many movies, but prefer TV series.

    I may rent a boat sometime, but the gas for an outboard is expensive (3 miles to the gallon tops!). I do hang around the marina downtown sometimes and enjoy talking to boaters!

    Just watched the episode on Offspring when Nina left her phone on at the therapist's office. The writers are absolutely genius!

    It's almost New Year's. Seems like yesterday when we clocked around to the year 2000!


  8. Please watch some of Ben Mendelsohn's earlier stuff... The Big Steal and The Year My Voice Broke, the latter classic Aussie film. You may see him in another light.. But agree some of his more recent stuff is a bit creepy. BTW Offspring has returned for another season.

  9. FWebby,


    I did finally get to see one of Mendelsohn's early things. It's not one you mentioned, though. It was Spotswood with Anthony Hopkins. Mendelsohn was very sweet in that. I'd love to see his other movies someday. I'll be hoping they show up on Netflix or Hulu.

    How's the new season of Offspring? Is it good?

  10. This was incredibly boring and convoluted. Were you high when you wrote it? Do you look back on it with regret?

    Or..... Are you still HIGH?

    *Pass the blunt*.............