ACTRESS Penny Cook steps back out on the big screen this month joining John Howard in a supporting role in the Australian comedy movie The Merger.
The scene is an AFL ground in a town called Bodgy Creek (nee Wagga Wagga). The town's population is dwindling and so are the number of people wanting to play AFL. There's a reluctant coach, an influx of refugees who have moved into a town with tough locals, a bright idea to tap into all this talent to rejuvenate the hapless local club and an unaccepting club president played by John joined by his perky wife played by Penny.
It's a great combination of Aussie characters, backstories and humour which will be unleashed on local movie theatres from the end of August.
Penny, 61, has had a busy life since she shot to fame as the fresh-faced veterinarian Vicky in the iconic 1980s television series A Country Practice; funnily enough, alongside John Howard.
She has raised a daughter, looked after her ageing mother prior to her death and now watches over her step-mother who has Dementia. "There were things I had to say no to because I wanted to be around for her (daughter)," Penny said. "She is now in West Australia at acting school. And I was caring for my mother so that limited my commitment to stuff that I could do."
Fitting her career into that busy family life was a challenge, but Penny has kept her hand in acting with plays and musical theatre productions, working with the corporate sector and some commercial station and ABC television shows.
She has also worked alongside some fascinating characters in her MC roles including former US president Bill Clinton and Prince Charles. "I do love doing conferences because you learn so much about other people's industries, not just your own," Penny said.
On top of all her out-front work, in the background Penny is an Australia Day ambassador, often travelling to country areas. She is also on the board of the young people's theatre company, Monkey Baa. "We are presently touring Josephine Wants to Dance all over Australia," an enthusiastic Penny said. "It's great for not only kids to come and see it, but also for adults and grandparents who love taking their grandchildren."
Once filming finished for the movie Penny went into performing in the Kendall Feaver play, The Almighty Sometimes, which is currently on at Sydney's The Stables theatre.
She says The Merger is a movie made up of a combination of many things.
"It's very silly, but it deals with bigotry and racism and with good wins in the end, with a lot of laughs and tears along the way," Penny said.
The Merger is a finalist for the 2018 CinefestOz Feature Length Film award. It's national premiere is in Wagga Wagga on August 28 before showing in cinemas across Australia.