Just weeks before actress Jessica Falkholt took off for a cherished family holiday on the NSW South Coast, she was auditioning for a job, seeking another role in a career already sparking buzz: the NIDA graduate had been in Seven’s Home and Away, had finished shooting a part in Nine’s upcoming series Bite Club, and she plays the title role in the yet-to-be-released film Harmony. “She was a talented actress,” Bite Club producer Sue Seeary Seeary tells WHO. “She was definitely going to go on to much bigger things.”
That much-anticipated journey came to a tragic end on Jan. 17 when, five days after her life support was turned off, Falkholt, 29, died in a Sydney hospital, following the devastating Boxing Day car crash that claimed the lives of her entire family. Falkholt had been returning to Sydney with parents Vivian, 60, and Lars, 69, and sister Annabelle, 21, from Ulladulla, NSW, when their sedan was struck head-on by a vehicle driven by local Craig Whitall, 51.
“What has happened to Jess and her family is horrifying and tragic,” Harmony director Corey Pearson tells WHO. “I feel honoured to have worked with her.”
As did many others, including the “heartbroken” cast and crew of Home and Away. “Such a beautiful and talented soul—taken so soon & so tragically,” said James Stewart. “May you now rest in peace alongside Annabelle, Lars and Vivian.” Stewart’s co-star Pia Miller posted: “Farewell wonderful Jess.” Said actor Russell Crowe: “Such a senseless waste of life.”
It was a life on the cusp of a “stellar career,” said her agent, Lisa Mann. “She was highly regarded for her fine work as an actor,” said Mann. “Her dedication, the degree of thought and preparation she invested in every job, her professionalism and the respect she showed others.”
Loved ones and friends farewelled Falkholt at a Sydney funeral service on Jan. 22.
"Beautiful Jess, you made us proud,” said her uncle Paul Ponticello through tears at the service. “You will always be remembered in our hearts forever. You are a rising star, shine bright above us.”
For more on WHO’s tribute to the actress, pick up a copy of WHO, on sale now.