"It's visceral": The Bloom cast share what it takes to make Australia's most compelling drama.


Just a note that this article contains mild spoilers for season one of Bloom, which you can watch right now on Stan.

You can tell there’s a little bit of extra magic to a series when it compels one of Australia’s leading actresses to chase down a role on it.

That’s exactly what Jacqueline McKenzie, who is known for her film roles in Palm Beach and The Water Diviner and as a series lead in the Stan Original Series Romper Stomper, did after devouring the Logie Award-winning Stan Original Series Bloom.

“When I saw the first season of Bloom I loved it immediately,” Jacqueline told Mamamia from the Bloom set in Melbourne. “So I rang my agent and said ‘is season two happening? I want to do it’, and he just said ‘oh darling, they haven’t even announced it yet, they haven’t written a script or anything.’

“But I said ‘I just want to do it! You must keep track of this.’ Then every few months I would call him and say, ‘So what’s happening with that Bloom show?’ The path of true love is never smooth.”

Despite the fact that filming of season two of Bloom clashed with Jacqueline’s work on the upcoming James Wan horror film Malignant, a fortunate twist of fate, some lucky schedule changes and dash from the US to Australia ensured that she finally snagged her dream role.

The second season of Stan’s Bloom continues the story of the residents of the small Victorian town of Mullan who discovered an inexplicable “fountain-of-youth”, in the form of mystical berries, that transform the people who consumed them into their younger bodies, following the events of a devastating flood.


Take a look at the trailer for Bloom season two, only on Stan. Post continues.

Now, news of this “miracle” has started to quietly spread, brining newcomers to the town and leaving the original residents of Mullan to struggle with the consequences of their second shot at reliving their youth.


In Bloom season two, Jacqueline plays Anne Carter, a former CEO of a biotech company who arrives in the small town of Mullan with her teenage daughter, Eva (Ingrid Torell), and family friend, 16-year-old Luke (Ed Oxenbould), allegedly for a ‘tree-change’. In reality, she’s really there to harness the power of the youth-giving berries.

“The first season of Bloom was very secretive,” she said. “The idea of this berry in this tiny country town where the secret has not gotten out and we’re not even sure what’s really going on.

“Season two is very much about the secret getting out into the wider community. My character, Anne, is heading up a pharmaceutical company — just think about the money to be made from youth, from the people who are chasing it down. Whether it’s plastic surgery, make-up or diets, the amount of money that is put into chasing youth in the real world. Now imagine if you could extract something that really does just that?


“I don’t play Anne in a villainous way or to be the foil, but she is a big part of the story.

“Overall, I just had such a visceral response to this show.”

Jacqueline McKenzie as Anne Carter in Bloom season two. Source: Stan.

Legendary Australian actor Bryan Brown, who is reprising his role as Ray Reed, the stoic husband of the berry-tasting and youth-seeking Gwen Reed ( Jacki Weaver/Phoebe Tonkin), said he was willing to quite literally take a hit to bring his character back for a second round.


"I wanted to be part of Bloom because it was just so different," he told Mamamia amidst shooting his final scenes for season two. "It was just one of those heightened concepts where it’s a very different way to do a thriller or a drama. I also always thought it was a show that had a high level of risk to it, about whether it would work or not.

"I had an idea of what we were in for before I started reading the season-two script. I’d had a conversation with (creator) Glen Dolman before we started shooting season two about where the hell we could go with this now, because it can’t be repetitive. We needed to make season two very different and really step up. One of the big draw-cards for this season is that we have a lot of new characters.

"I also wanted Ray to be more physical in this second series, which he is. I wanted him to have to deal with things on a more physical level and that happens, with more action sequences. I get to punch and be punched, I get to hit and be hit; I like to play all that on-screen."

For Australia actress Phoebe Tonkin, who cut her teeth in fantasy shows like The Originals and The Vampire Diaries, preparing her role as young Gwen Reed in season two was about reviving the love story that was at the centre of the supernatural drama.

"At the end of season one, Gwen had made the decision that she was not going to cause any more pain and suffering to her husband; then we find out in the second season that she does end up taking another berry," Phoebe told Mamamia while filming Bloom season two in Melbourne.

"This time around for Gwen it’s not so much about regret but wanting to experience this new surge of vitality and youth with the person she loves, and the struggle of wanting him to have the experience with her. It’s much harder than she anticipated.


"This season is about hope and also love, that's the biggest thing for Gwen. I will also say Bryan Brown is a magical man, and I'll be sad when the time comes to stop playing his wife."

Phoebe Tonkin as Gwen Reed and Jackson Heywood as Ray Reed in Bloom season two. Source: Stan.

Jackson Heywood, best known for his portrayal of Brody Morgan in Home and Away, is one of the new additions to the Bloom season two lineup, a fact he used to his advantage while filming,


"As much as Bryan Brown is the icon that he is, he’s a larrikin in real life when you really meet him," he told Mamamia. "The actual character of Ray, that I took from watching the first season a few times, is a very soft man and I wanted to capture that.

"Even though I’m playing a young Ray, not a young Bryan Brown, I still went and watched some of his movies from when he was my age, just to really study his mannerisms. But with the character of Ray, we learn that he’s come from a really rough upbringing; he’s had to be very happy-go-lucky to get through that.

"What I like about this season though, is that the stakes are higher because the berries are more intense and more people know about it. It’s a real look at how humans would behave if they were to find a miracle like this.

“To be honest, it’s been a really intense show to shoot, it’s very emotional. These are life-and-death scenes, high-stakes stuff. There’s a lot more conflict, there are action sequences.

Jackson Heywood as young Ray Reed in Bloom season two. Source: Stan.

"In the scene we were shooting today, I’m holding a real gun, and there is a weight to that, to be holding a real weapon, even though it’s all safe. But these are the scenes that you really want to see.

“I’m a newcomer to the cast and I used that to my advantage. My first scene with Phoebe is basically me coming in just blazing, and saying, ‘Here I am! Who are you?’ So that added to the day because Phoebe had no idea what kind of actor I am or how I would play it, and I used that to kind of mess with her a little bit. And it really worked for our characters."

Other new additions to the Bloom season two lineup include veteran Australian actor Gary Sweet (House Husbands), Christiaan Van Vuuren (from Stan Original Series The Other Guy) and Neighbours star turned Hollywood actress Bella Heathcote.

The brand new season of the Stan Original Series Bloom is now streaming, along with every episode of the award-winning first season, only on Stan.

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