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The Saddle Club star reflects on Chris Hemsworth cameo: 'Blonde God'

The Saddle Club is arguably one of the most iconic Australian children’s shows from the early 2000s, originally starring Lara Jean Marshall, Sophie Bennett and Keenan MacWilliam as best friends Lisa, Stevie and Carole.

21 years on from the show’s premiere, Lara has opened up to Yahoo Lifestyle about her experience on the series, how it changed her life forever, and what it was like working with guest star Chris Hemsworth.

The Saddle Club trio.
Lara Jean Marshall (centre) has opened up about her time on The Saddle Club. Photo: ABC

What was your audition process like?

So I think there were about maybe three or four auditions until I got it. I actually went in riding gear, so I was in the whole clothing, I had the little helmet. I kind of looked the part! And then I got the call that I got Lisa and I remember my mum was downstairs, she just yelled out and she's like, “Do you want this show?” And I was like, “Yeah sure, I want this show!”.

Did you ride horses before playing Lisa on The Saddle Club?

No, I didn't ride before Saddle Club. We did about a month or two months of riding horses before filming, so they trained us up with The Lord of the Rings horse riding people and they were amazing and we got familiar with the horses, and now I can't stop riding. So I still ride, I love it. I've been working as a volunteer with mistreated and abused horses down in the Mornington Peninsula. I want anything to do with horses really.

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What was the first day on set like?

I actually got quite shocked, because it was suddenly like you were an adult working. It was 4am to 7pm, you’d have your shower, read your lines for the next day and you're on again. When I look back I'm like, wow I was so young. And to be reading that many lines and to know them off by heart by the next day, I’m just in disbelief that I could do that.

Were you doing your own stunts on the horses?

We weren't doing as many stunts as the second series, but we were doing some and it was just really scary at times. Like, you’d be trotting on the horse and they’d just be like, “Okay, just fall off the horse onto a mat” and you'd be like, “Okay!”. I was not used to that at all but was willing to give it a try.

Chris Hemsworth on The Saddle Club.
Chris Hemsworth made a guest appearance on an episode of the show. Photos: ABC

What was it like working with Chris Hemsworth?

I just remember we were all just kind of in shock at how good-looking he was. He was just like, this blonde God. It was only a guest star role for one episode, but he came on and he was being a vet and being caring to the horse and I think we all just kind of forgot our lines around him because he was just so gorgeous. And then, of course, we'd all just be kind of drooling and he'd be like, “I'm just getting away from you girls. Like, I need to move away from you”.

Do you remember the lyrics of ‘Hello World’?

I know all the words and I still get people telling me all the time and doing the hand motions that I did and everything. It’s nice to know that people know the words and I have a bit of fun with me about it. I used to work in places and people would just put on the song I'm like, “Yeah yeah, cool cool, thanks!”.

Any behind-the-scenes moments people might not know about?

We’d just be quite naughty doing pranks on each other all the time, like throwing the boys' clothing in the trees, putting sand in their shoes. We’d just do lots of cheeky things, especially Keenan and I. We’d be the cheeky ones and then Sophie would be like, “I don't know if we should do this guys” and we’re like, “Come on, Sophie!”.

Are you still in touch with anyone from the show?

I'm still connected with basically a lot of the people on that. I still talk to Chris Kirby, who played Keenan’s dad on the show, and Keenan and Sophie I talk all the time. We caught up overseas and things like that when I was living in LA and Vancouver. It's like a little family that's never left really.

The Saddle Club trio.
Lara describes the cast as ‘a little family’. Photo: ABC

What was it like saying goodbye to the show?

There was a part of me that was kind of like a little bit heartbroken because a part of me was kind of left there and I wouldn't be seeing the people on a regular basis. Keenan and Sophie were to go back to Toronto and Ontario where they were living at the time, and that was devastating to me because we spent so much time together. Even on the weekends, they’d be at my house, we'd be running around the tennis court and we’d be up to no good. So there was a big part of that friendship gone too.

How did you feel when they cast new actors for season three?

We weren't even really told about it. I just heard that they basically had started filming. We didn't know the girls, we didn’t get told about anything really. Basically, it was like, here are the season three girls because you guys are getting older. So I think there was a big missed opportunity in that because instead of starting with a whole new cast, they really could have kept going with our age group. And then as we're growing up, going to school or making bad decisions or good decisions, that audience could have been growing with us, instead of just completely cutting them off.

And then I know that a lot of fans were annoyed at that because they were like, “Well, we know what Stevie, Carole and Lisa look like and that's not them”, and some fans out there were a bit annoyed about it. But some who didn't know the show who were coming through new were liking that because they didn't know about it.

I wish that we had been told ahead of time and I wish that Ariel [Kaplan] who played Lisa and I could have got together and maybe chatted or something like that. I'm told that she did a really good job as well and they have the singing and everything and that, so it would have been for a whole new audience really.

What are you doing now?

I’m a broadcast journalist, so I do radio. I do the morning bulletins, I do local news, write fit, record it, edit it, interview great stories, and I do a bit of heartfelt ones. It's weird because you did acting your whole life and then you go, oh wow, I’m in this place of, what do I do now? And you try all these different things and then you go, I’m kind of fitting in with telling stories and talking to people, and it's really nice.

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