The discovery that the Summer Bay favourite has a hidden love child has stunned actress Emily Symons as much as fans, despite the fact that she has played Marilyn Chambers for more than 30 years.
According to Chambers, who admits to crying throughout production of the poignant Home And Away narrative, “It’s the biggest story I’ve ever done.” It was an extremely difficult and uncomfortable environment for Marilyn to be in.
Heather, a strange figure, has completely upended Marilyn’s life (RFDS’ Sofia Nolan).
The young woman has been assimilating into Bay life for a few weeks while also stalking Marilyn in secret. As a result of Marilyn’s erratic behaviour, pals like Roo (Georgie Parker), Leah (Ada Nicodemou), and Irene (Lynne McGranger) have turned against her and questioned her mental stability.
When Marilyn reaches her breaking point, she is unable to conceal the truth any longer and confides in Leah that she believes Heather to be her estranged child from an early extramarital affair.
Marilyn forces Leah to make a commitment not to share her secret with anybody out of desperation.
For those who were aware of the character’s past, the revelation came as a complete surprise.
With her spouse Norman Fisher, Marilyn did have a son named Byron, but the boy passed away from liver cancer.
She used kidnapping and other extreme measures in the years that followed to satiate her maternal needs, but she finally found fulfilment when she and her now-ex-husband John (Shane Withington) adopted troubled teen Jett (Will McDonald).
Symons claims that although being as shocked as the audience to find that Marilyn had been keeping such a significant secret for so long, she was astounded by how the show’s writers were able to seamlessly incorporate the Heather tale into Marilyn’s life.
I initially thought, “Wow, when would it have happened? However, if you look at the timing, it actually makes sense. As the layers are gradually removed, it becomes clear why she felt unable to communicate this information for the entirety of her adult life. In the end, this is a tale of humiliation and concealment.
The actor thinks that many of the drama’s older viewers would recognise and perhaps even relate to Marilyn’s narrative.
She explains that Marilyn’s pregnancy happened some 30 years ago, in a different era when attitudes towards unwed mothers were significantly different, and claims that it is not an unusual story.
“I think if you were vulnerable, had no money and no way to live, and were being coercively controlled by a wealthy powerful man, you would just do what you thought was best for the child – and I think that’s what she did.”
Symons, who is also the sole parent of seven-year-old Henry, notes that attitudes have significantly shifted in the intervening years.
“Everyone would have said, “Oh, well, never mind, let’s all raise the baby together,” if it had happened in 2020.
“You wouldn’t have any trouble telling your family, friends, and circle of supporters that.
So, yes, the times are different.
Although the plot has been tedious, Symons has enjoyed getting to know her on-screen kid.
She is such a treat and an incredible performer. She is really talented and professional.
She is someone to watch, I suppose. She predicts that Nolan, whose first major part was portraying old Home And Away favourite Stephen Peacock’s daughter on The Flying Doctors revival RFDS, will soon become a major movie star.
She is incredible. We became quite close and I believe that by sharing the experience, we both developed PTSD.
Even though Marilyn told Leah everything, her secret is still kept very hidden, and it seems Heather is still working with Marilyn.
Symons describes the young woman’s character as a skilled manipulator, so he is not astonished by how fast Marilyn’s friends were converted to her cause.
“Heather can be completely convincing, you know, sugary, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, and she just pulled a fast one on everyone,” said one witness.
The voyage is “very exciting,” adds Symons, declining to indicate if the mother and daughter have a happy ending. “Every episode something else is revealed, so it’s a really interesting journey.”
“I believe Marilyn wants it so much because, at her core, she loves her, but Heather is severely wounded,”