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Life’s never dull in Ferndale – and these three couldn’t be happier to be back together. Actress Angela Bloomfield and actor Michael Galvin have witnessed each other’s milestones on screen as well as off. They’ve laughed at weddings, cooed at each other’s children and celebrated birthdays year after year. And as the pair, two of the longest-running stars on Shortland Street, continue to strengthen their bond, they welcome back into their fold Kieren Hutchison, who they starred alongside more than a decade ago.
But the difference now is how much the threesome has calmed over the years. As they clink their glasses in a toast, joke, laugh and reminisce, no one else registers on their radar. Like putting on a comfy pair of slippers, the trio has slotted back together nicely. Although Angela remarks the amount they’ve grown up is astonishing.
‘That’s the funny thing about having Kieren back, the two of us have children, wives and husbands’, she explains. ‘We’ve done different things, but similar things like have children, and have reached a common ground. Having young kids, we’ve got so many stages we can talk and relate to, so we’re naturally connected.’
A bone of contention is when Angela and Kieren were last working together, as carefree 20-somethings, they could attend events at the drop of a hat. Now, ‘the young actors get to go out and party and we can’t’, Angela says with a laugh.
But the 37-year-old mother of Max, six, and Maya, four, doesn’t mind her life revolving around family, and neither do her co-stars. In fact, Angela has ensured she can head off early to an afternoon of teacher interviews after New Idea’s exclusive photo shoot.
Michael, who is likened as the Ken Barlow of Shortland Street, confesses noticing a direct correlation between age and how chilled Angela, Kieren and himself have become towards the careers. The veteran isn’t saying they have lost their drive for acting, but are no longer naïve actors starting out in the industry.
‘It’s not like when we were young and work was our life,’ Michael explains. ‘We’ve done that, gone away, come back and are happy to be here.’
Angela agrees, saying, ‘We’re not constantly thinking, “What am I missing out on?” Or, “I want to take on work to prove myself.” I’ve proven.’
Nearly two decades on, Angela and Michael are still extremely close, but only now are they reconnecting with Kieren 15 years after he left his Shortland Street co-stars for America.
Back then, all three performers were carving out their careers and working tirelessly to perfect their craft on the homegrown TV show. Now the threesome, who play Dr Chris Warner (Michael), Rachel McKenna (Angela) and her brother Jonathon (Kieren) joke it’s like a family reunion.
‘It’s unexpected,’ Kieren admits. ‘But it’s very familiar.’
Based in Los Angeles, Kieren pounced at the chance to reprise his role as Rachel’s older brother and spend six months at home with his young family.
His wife of eight years, American actress Nicole Tubiola and their son Quinn, three, had never visited New Zealand until the Shortie opportunity arose.
‘Filming my character turning up out of the blue after 15 years away was something I never thought would happen,’ Kieren explains. ‘It was very weird but also a very cool experience.
Plus, there are still a lot of familiar faces on both sides of the cameras.’
While Michael and Angela have both remained in New Zealand, each has taken breaks from the fast-paced TV show to direct, raise families and, in Angela’s case, hot step it on Dancing with the Stars.
Funnily enough, Kieren – who has starred on Charmed, One Tree Hill, Ghost Whisperer and CSI New York – is often spotted on LA sidewalks by New Zealanders wanting to chat about his Shortland Street character.
Rachel and Jonathon McKenna were introduced to viewers in 1993 as the teenage children of hospital CEO Michael McKenna, played by Paul Gittins.
Jonathon’s character caused quite a stir in the 1990s when he came out as gay and began seeing ambulance driver Jamie Forrest, played by Karl Urban, who went on to star in Xena:  Warrior Princess and Star Trek.
Writers reintroduced Jonathon’s character after he had a car crash in France and needed urgent surgery. Jonathon’s developing friendship with Dr Gabrielle Jacobs, played by Virginie Le Brun, already has tongues wagging because of his changed sexual orientation.
The three friends don’t take their jobs home with them, which means barbecues and social gatherings are always on the cards. Before Angela ducks away, she reminds Kieren and Michael, who is dad to five-year-old daughter Lily,  that they must arrange a play date for their kids soon. NI

By Rebecca Milne I NEW IDEA - pages 24-25 / June 2011

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Kieren Hutchison