It’s ironic that Poppy Montgomery, who plays Samantha Spade on the CBS detective skein “Without a Trace,” is better known in the U.S. than in her native Australia.
The 27-year-old left Sydney for Florida almost a decade ago. Arriving in Los Angeles soon after, she was determined to try her luck as an actor.
“I bought this book, ‘How to Make It in Hollywood,’ ” she rcalls. Having read a story in the book about Julia Roberts’ first manager, she tracked him down and begged him to introduce her to some agents. He agreed and soon after Montgomery was guesting on “NYPD Blue” and “Party of Five.”
“Initially I was pretty fearless,” she says.
But the roles kept coming: Garry Marshall’s movie “The Other Sister,” “Life,” Par’s “Dead Man on Campus” and her eventual breakout as the lead in Fireworks’ Marilyn Monroe biopic, “Blonde.”
Oddly enough, “Blonde” lensed in Melbourne in 2000 but despite its critical acclaim and success Stateside, in Oz it was broadcast only on feevee Foxtel, seen in less than 25% of homes.
Montgomery’s roles in Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz’s “Relativity” and Barry Levinson’s copshow “The Beat” similarly never aired Down Under.
So when Kerry Packer’s leading Nine Network launches “Without a Trace” this year, it will mark Montgomery’s homecoming.
“It’ll be cool when it’s on,” says the actress, who started out at Nicole Kidman’s alma mater, the Australian Theatre for Young People.
“I was Guard No. 2 in a production of ‘Twelfth Night’ and I had one line, ‘No sir, no jot.’ I never even knew what it meant,” she laughs.
“I literally did nothing.”