Prosper’s Rebecca Gibney reveals motivations behind her role as a pastor in U Star church

Rebecca Gibney

Stan drama about ‘flawed family trying to keep the lid on secrets while managing mega church’

If you love drama you’ll be watching Rebecca Gibney in Prosper. Also the impressive casts at work in Boy Swallows Universe and Expats this month. (And if you can afford the streaming subscriptions.)

January 2024 has seen three impressive Australian dramas released on streaming services.

Importance of Aussie drama

Stan, Netflix and Prime all understand how to keep audiences happy and grow subscriptions. Premium Australian drama is key to their business models.

See also: Best streaming services 2024. What’s essential to watch the world’s finest TV

Nine’s streaming platform Stan has long been the leader in commissioning the best Australian drama and in the past few months it has hit a couple of home runs.

Its audience loved Scrublands and now they are consuming Prosper.

In a special TV Gold podcast episode this past week, James Manning and Andrew Mercado welcomed Prosper star Rebecca Gibney to the studio.

Here are some of the highlights from the episode.

Listen to the full 30-minute interview here.

Ewen Leslie and Ming-Zhu Hii in Prosper

Ewen Leslie and Ming-Zhu Hii in Prosper

Why Rececca Gibney said yes to Prosper

“I couldn’t say no. The last time I worked with Richard Roxburgh was in 1997. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with him. I hadn’t read the scripts at that stage. I read one of them, I think, so I wasn’t sure about where the journey was going.

“I just knew we were in safe hands with Matt Cameron and Jason Stephens who created the show. Particularly because they reassured all of us that wasn’t isn’t a show having a go at faith. It’s not about the evil people running a mega empire. It’s a battle flawed family who are trying to keep the lid on secrets while managing this mega church. As they prepare to launch into the US they try and stop things unraveling.”

Is her character Abi bad?

Gibney: “I don’t think Abi is bad. I don’t even think she is icy. As the series goes on you will begin to understand her motivations. She has had to deal with situations that have put her in a really compromising position. It’s also put the church in a compromising position.

It’s incredibly upsetting, particularly when she’s got a husband who was erratic and slightly out of control. We come into this series at a point where this is what she always seems to do. She seems to clean up after him. She’s just getting a bit fed up but fed even though she’s a woman who abides by the rules of the Bible. She deeply believes in her faith. She thinks this is what she has to do. It gets to a point in this series where she can’t do that anymore, and she’s going to have to start making some changes to save not only her family, but the church that they’ve created.”

See also: Stan Original Series Prosper explores the depths of Christianity without ridicule

Similarities between U Star and Waystar?

Rebecca Gibney addressed the point some have made that Prosper has similarities to Succession.

The actor liked the Wystar saga. “I adore Succession. I thought it was a wonderful show. I can see why there would be comparisons. I just I think the Quinn family has got a few more morals than the Roy’s. I’d like to think that!” [Laughs]

Rebecca Gibney

Rebecca Gibney in Stan’s Prosper

Religion: A global Australian export

“Matt Cameron and Jason Stephens have been very open about the fact that when they sat down to create a new show they asked what is it that Australia’s exports on a global scale? What is it that appeals internationally – they kept coming back to the mega church. Australians do mega church incredibly well. It was a fascinating topic for them and and I agree with them. This is in no way having a go at the church or the community of the church. I had to struggle with that when I decided to do the role because I was raised in a Christian family. My mother was Christian. I have a lot of Christian family members and I did have to discuss this with them. I was saying, as far as I know, this is not having a go at faith, it is not having a go at religion.”

Ramifications of making more shorter TV series

Asked about how actors felt about changing TV business models, Rebecca Gibney noted the way things used to work.

“When we were shooting Packed to the Rafters we were shooting 22 episodes at once. Then you might get four months off. That was great because you’d made enough money to survive for the next four to six months.

Peoples’ attention spans are now a lot shorter because there is so much product out there and so much to watch. But you also don’t want to get over-exposed. I’m going to have to go away again for a little while now! Otherwise people will be going, ‘Oh. Not her again’.”

Does Rebecca Gibney look after her brand?

“I am aware of my brand. That doesn’t mean I’m not going play unlikable characters. If I do a series where the character is unlikable, I have to have motivations and I have to understand why she is doing all of these things and there has to be an element of humanity. Because I think even bad evil characters have got to have moments where you go, Oh, I understand that or I can see why I might not like them. I might not like their actions, but I’ve got to understand them otherwise, they’re just one dimensional.”

TV Gold

TV Gold podcast in 2024

• Don’t miss the episode where we review Netflix’s Boy Swallows Universe

Netflix's Boy Swallows Universe claims 5th spot globally and 2nd in Australia - 17 January

• Listen to the episode where we review Stan’s Prosper
• TV Gold where we review Prime’s Expats
• The episode where TV Gold special guest is Rebecca Gibney

Nicole Kidman in Expats

Also use Spotify or Apple podcast. Follow TV Gold for automatic updates.

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