Actress is fit to be a Queen in Biblical epic

Simone Kessell heads to Capetown next month to play the first Queen of Egypt in Biblical epic Of Kings and Prophets.

It’s yet another exotic role for the New Zealand-born actress who is now based in Los Angeles with her husband of 11 years, director Gregor Jordan.

In Roland Joffe’s The Lovers, which has just opened in a limited number of US cinemas, she plays an English governess in colonial India.

She’s just seen The Lovers (formerly known as Singularity), which had a tortuous path to the screen after the production was beset with financial problems.

Her verdict? “It looks magnificent but it’s very hard to follow because whole chunks were cut from the film,” she tells IF on the line from LA.

Most of her scenes were with Josh Hartnett, who has the dual roles of a 21st Century marine archaeologist and an 18th Century British colonialist.

The film was shot in Queensland and in 45 degree heat in a remote region of India, which was a challenge for Kessell who was in full costume.

“Roland was the toughest director I’ve ever worked with,” she said. “He really put us through our paces; it was like going to boot camp. It was an incredible experience; I really gave it everything.”

Of Kings and Prophets is the pilot for the US ABC network, produced by ABC Studios. Kessell will play Anohim, who first marries King Saul (Ray Winstone) and then King David (British newcomer Oliver Rix).

The script is by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (who co-wrote Exodus: Gods and Kings) and the director is Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Hostages, Homeland).

The producers and cast will know on May 12 if the pilot is picked up for a series, which would be shot in Capetown.

Kessell came back to Sydney for a supporting role opposite Michiel Huisman and Teresa Palmer in writer-director Paul Currie’s romantic thriller 2.22.

She played the boss of Huisman’s character, an air traffic controller who finds the same patterns recur in his life each day after he nearly causes a fatal mid-air collision.

“My character has one really strong scene and she teases out the answers to the questions which the audience will be asking,” she said.

Last year she starred in the second series of Wonderland as Sascha, who gets married to notorious womaniser Tom Wilcox (Michael Dorman).

“Sascha is a firecracker who shakes up the whole place,” she said.