VANESSA Gray returned to her former stomping ground of the Gold Coast for her latest movie role.
The star of Channel 9 crime drama The Strip has traded her long blonde locks for a shorter, darker do in the thriller Bad Karma.
The American and Australian co-production was filmed on the Gold Coast last year and stars American Ray Liotta as former crim Molloy, who is back on the straight and narrow.
Gray plays Molloy's partner Kelly, a jewellery shop owner who is unaware of his dark past.
"When I first got cast and found out I was working with Ray I was pretty nervous," she said.
"I thought 'what am I going to do? What's he going to be like?'
"When I came on set he came up and gave me a bear hug and I was thrown off. We got on really, really well."
Gray, whose television credits also include Rescue Special Ops, All Saints and Dance Academy, said she became good friends from Liotta and learned a lot from him.
"Working with him was something that my acting will never be the same because of it," she said.
"To watch him and then be acting with him, the best way to describe it is playing tennis with a pro. Your game lifts. You learn so much.
"He became a mentor. We talked about acting for hours between takes. He wasn't cagey about anything. He's just a very helpful generous man."
Molloy's secret is soon outed when former accomplice Mack is released from prison and starts blackmailing him.
Aussie actor Dominic Purcell, best known for his starring role in the TV series Prison Break, plays the psychotic baddie who will go to any length to force Molloy into helping him with one final job.
"I'm sure he just had an absolute blast being the baddie and going to town and getting into it," Gray said about Purcell.
The film also stars Andy McPhee (Home and Away, Sons of Anarchy, Blue Heelers) as Molloy's parole officer and Aaron Pedersen (City Homicide, The Circuit) as Molloy's mate Bear.
Bad Karma opens in select cinemas today.
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