Nicky Whelan: Blonde Ambition For Bello Mag Beauty

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Published in Bello mag #60 July 2014 ‘Go Brazil’ issue.

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What is it about Australia? Despite the fact that it’s less populated than the state of Texas, this country routinely churns out some seriously world-class acting talent. Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce, Naomi Watts, the list goes on and on… Maybe it’s the drinking water? Maybe it’s the open space? Or maybe there’s something to be said about that famously fearless Aussie spirit? Case in point, Melbourne’s own Nicky Whelan.


After getting her start as a TV presenter and sports reporter in her native Oz, it wasn’t long before the effervescent blonde defied the odds, building a successful career as an actress, first down under, and eventually across the bigger pond, here in Hollywood. “It was a weird transition because (acting) is so different from TV presenting, so it definitely took a beat, but deep down, I always wanted to be an actress, so I had to go for it.”

Whelan’s never been afraid of letting go and leaping forward – chock it up to the physical confidence that was instilled in her both as the granddaughter of Australian Rules Football Superstar, Marcus Whelan, and as an accomplished athlete in her own right (she trained from a young age to be a dancer) – but whatever the case, it’s a belief that has only steered her on to greater success…

“When I was 25, I got asked to do ‘Neighbors’ in Australia and I jumped at the chance, even though I had never even taken an acting class, “ she says somewhat guiltily, before explaining, “I was so busy working as a presenter from as soon as I finished school literally right through until ‘Neighbours’ that I had never stopped and done a course in anything else!” Fortunately, the fertile ground that is the iconic Aussie Soap (responsible for introducing the world to Kylie Minogue, Russell Crowe, and The Hemsworth Bros.) provided quite an education: “It was such a great place to be a part of and to learn so quickly on your feet, blind, and around that cast and crew. Everyone really looked out for me, and I will always be grateful to that show.”

Soon however, Hollywood came knocking and Whelan, who’d grown up taking trips to The States, was more than ready to answer. “I’d been asked about a particular project that was happening over here (2009’s ‘Halloween II’, directed by Rob Zombie). It was an opportunity to work with some great actors (Malcolm McDowell, Octavia Spencer) and I knew it would be fun, so I gracefully got out of ‘Neighbours’ and left and moved over here and did that movie.”

Before long, she was booking parts on TV shows like Scrubs and Entourage, and even landed a plumb role in The Farrelly Brothers’ 2011 film, ‘Hall Pass’, but it was her starring turn opposite Milo Ventimiglia on the über-intense Crackle series ‘Chosen’ that truly gave the Aussie stunner a chance to exercise her dramatic muscles, and to bond with a cast and crew as close-knit as her ‘Neighbours’ family: “I love Milo Ventimiglia and Ben Katai (the show’s director for seasons 1 and 2) That was such a cool, intense, rewarding process to be a part of… I’m sad my character got killed off, but we had to make room for ‘Matador’.”

Ah yes, ‘Matador’… the super sexy spy series – airing on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network – on which Whelan plays… well perhaps it’s better to hear her describe it – “an undercover CIA agent – real baddass, kickass, very intelligent. She is full on in every way. I mean, I’ve got to get my sh*t together when I play this woman.“ In fact, her enthusiasm for the entire project is undeniable, matched only be her dedication to it. “I was such a huge fan initially when I read the script because it’s so cool and hardcore and sexy and fast-paced. The storylines are incredible and there’s so much going on. The entire cast and crew are so talented and we’ve been working our asses off. We really love it, and hope people will too!”

One get’s the impression that Whelan doesn’t take anything on unless she’s prepared to fully work her ass off. Whether acting for famously opaque writer/director, Terrance Malick on the set of his upcoming, Christian Bale- Natalie Portman starrer, ‘Knight of Cups’ (“I have no idea what the movie is about or even if I’m gonna make it in, but it was an incredible experience that I will never forget.”), or opposite Nicholas Cage in the big budget adaptation of ‘Left Behind’, the first book in Jerry B. Jenkins Rapture-set series (“There’s a reason why Nick is who he is; he’s got that fairy dust on him”) you better believe she’s all in.

Perhaps that’s what it is that sets Australian actors apart, an uncanny ability to give 100% without being bogged down or trapped by that due-diligence… Or maybe that’s something that characterizes all great actors… Either way, Nicki Whelan once again puts it best: “I always find when you work hard, and have the freedom to experiment and play, you just create more magic.”
photographer JOSH REED






Thank you Nicky for the love!

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