Tonkin, 34, says that while she has played several mums in her acting career, none of them has been anything like Frankie. She describes the role as a “blessing” and tells WHO that the six-month shoot making the series was an “amazing experience”.
“It’s almost too good to be true when you have such a good experience and then the show turns out as beautiful as this has turned out,” she adds. “I feel so incredibly lucky – it’s a dream.”
Working on such an intense project, unbreakable, family-like bonds were bound to form between the cast, particularly with the young stars Felix Cameron (Eli), and Lee Tiger Halley (Gus). Reunited with her co-stars who played Frankie’s children while promoting the series, Tonkin rues how much they’ve grown since she last saw them.
“They became like my real kids,” she smiles. “I loved them so much, they gave me so much, it was such a great experience with them.”
With the likes of Simon Baker, Travis Fimmel and Bryan Brown also starring in the series, Tonkin was surrounded by a wealth of experience to draw on. “The calibre of actors on this was unbelievable … but we just all had the same intention,” she explains. “We wanted to tell the story right and we also wanted to make sure that it was a great experience. Six months is a long time for people to be away from their families. I’ve been on long jobs before and people really sacrifice a lot to do a show this long. Not only did we want to turn up on set, know our lines, do our jobs well, but we also wanted to create a really fun environment for everyone.”
Tonkin first came to know Dalton’s story when her own mum gave her a copy of the book as a Christmas present in 2019. Reading it and then immersing herself in a character who is imperfect but whose love for her children is pure, changed her view on motherhood and what it means to be “a good mum”.
“When I spoke to Trent at the beginning, he said to me that his real mum … loved her children so much, so that was my objective throughout the show,” she explains. “She didn’t need anything elaborate for her family, she just wanted a level of ordinary.”
With an impressive résumé of film and TV credits behind her, including Babylon with Margot Robbie and perhaps her best known stint in The Vampire Diaries, a level of ordinary isn’t something in Tonkin’s immediate future.
Boy Swallows Universe is streaming now on Netflix