A young Olivia Newton-John (Morgan Griffin) ponders her future while working to break into the London music scene.
A young Olivia Newton-John (Morgan Griffin) ponders her future while working to break into the London music scene. Channel 7

Honestly in love with Olivia

WHEN Morgan Griffin found out she'd be playing a young Olivia Newton-John in Seven's biopic on the music icon, it was a case of art imitating life.

As a child, the actor had played a young Delta Goodrem in her Innocent Eyes film clip. It wasn't until she landed the role of the teenage Newton-John in Hopelessly Devoted To You that she found out she'd once again be playing the younger version Goodrem.

"I didn't know Delta was involved until I got the offer," she says.

"We had some cross-over days in preproduction and we had some time together on set. She's so lovely and generous with her time. iI was great working with her again now as an adult."

While Goodrem reportedly sought Newton-John's blessing for the project, the Grease star has not officially endorsed the TV biopic.

"Obviously there's pressure when you're playing someone real because you want to do them justice and give an honest performance," Griffin says.

"I never wanted it to feel like an impersonation. I wanted to capture the essence of her. Her energy is so light and kind.

"The main thing for me is the change of voice. My voice is a lot deeper than hers was when she was younger, so changing my register and making the pitch of my voice higher was the closest thing I could try to change in the performance to be her."

A young Olivia Newton-John (Morgan Griffin) performs on the talent show Sing Sing Sing in the TV mini-series Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You.
A young Olivia Newton-John (Morgan Griffin) performs on the talent show Sing Sing Sing in the TV mini-series Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You. Channel 7

Griffin plays Newton-John between the ages of 16 and 21, charting her win on the Aussie talent show Sing Sing Sing and her life-changing trip to London to record her first single and her first US hit I Honestly Love You.

"I was obsessed with Grease as a kid. I knew all the songs and just loved her and Sandy, so I've always been fascinated by her," she says.

"But it was interesting for me to do a lot of research into the early years of her career. I had no idea how she started out. That was the most fun for me and I think not a lot of people, in my generation at least, know about that starting point for her in the '60s and '70s."

In swinging '60s London, Newton-John and her best friend Pat Carroll tour as a duo in support of The Shadows. Sparks fly between Newton-John and her future fiance, English guitarist and songwriter Bruce Welch (Hugo Johnstone-Burt).

"He took her away from being a young girl into a young woman in what was a big pivotal moment for her," Griffin says. "Obviously she grew out of that relationship, but he was a big catalyst as to why she had those hits early on in the UK."

Morgan Griffin in a scene from Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You.
Morgan Griffin in a scene from Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You. Channel 7

Griffin hopes the two-part mini-series introduces a new generation to Newton-John's work and ever-growing legacy.

"It's a celebration of everything she's gone through," she says.

"Her career is so amazing and we should be proud of it. For a woman, especially back then in the '60s, to have an amazing career in such a male-dominated industry is really inspiring. It's really important to show people today that we need to keep making a change and a move towards equality.

"She's just a champion of so many things...I hope this inspires another level of respect for her."

Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted To You premieres on Sunday at 8.30pm on Channel 7.


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