While Susie was fortunate enough to not have to face off against terrifying wildlife in her scenes, for leading man Zac, it was a different story – and he even has the battle scars to prove it.
Along with shooting in brutal environmental conditions and sharing scenes with potentially deadly creatures, the American megastar broke his hand during filming but kept quiet and pushed through until after production wrapped.
“Zac Efron… he had to go through so much. I mean, my God! And he never complained once. He was really amazing,” Susie enthuses about her co-star, who she describes as her “dance partner” in Gold.
“He was very down-to-earth, really great to work with, really friendly and as I said, never complained once. He was really committed to the role. It's funny, I think when people sort of see he's a gorgeous movie star, they often think well, he can't be a good actor or nice person, whatever. But he does have it all.”
The adverse conditions of the Outback also made for a memorable and “spiritual” experience for Susie, who has built up a stellar list of IMDB credits over the years including stand-out roles in Wentworth and Puberty Blues among others.
“It was an amazing experience to be in the middle of nowhere and then some days you had to stop filming because it's like 46 degrees, which means it's like 80 degrees in the ground and there were dust storms… it was a really full-on place to film.”
Not only did the actress have to endure gruelling environmental conditions, she also had to undergo a complete transformation: both physical and vocal.
Revealing she was glued to the make up chair for hours on end to achieve the post-apocalyptic style look of her character, Susie explains: “We decided to change my hair colour and put little dreadlocks in there as well so it looked like I hadn't brushed my hair and hadn’t cleaned my teeth for a long time and just look really, really weathered.”
Add in a sprinkle of a few savage-looking scars and remove the eyebrows, and the end result is the glamorous actress looking completely unrecognisable when compared to her stylish turns on red carpets.
Susie also did extensive research to get the character’s Irish accent downpat, undergoing dialect training, watching Irish TV until she fell asleep and roping in Irish friends to record the dialogue so she could practise.
“I was really nervous about getting a bad review about my accent,” she admits.
“There was an Irish movie that came out with really bad accents and they got really bad reviews. And I'm like, ‘Oh my God, and one of them's Irish and he still got a bad review!’ I wanted it to be believable and I worked really hard so hopefully!”
Despite having firmly established herself in the competitive Australian acting industry and consistently booking work for decades, Susie says there were still moments of doubt lingering when it came to this role – and not just because of the accent.
“It was a really great thing [working on Gold], even though honestly, I was nervous. I was really nervous to do it,” she says.
“You’re working with a big American actor, doing the accents and the character was mercurial in lots of ways so it was more of a challenge. With Wentworth’s Marie Winter, I knew her, I played her for 40 episodes so it just felt like a comfortable coat to put on. But this was different. This really stretched me. I was nervy about it. I really was, but I'm just so glad I did it.”
Gold is now streaming on Stan