Jessica Marais’ shock exit from Rafters reboot
Packed To The Rafters favourite Jessica Marais has quietly withdrawn from the TV program's hotly-anticipated reboot, with fears she is again battling mental illness.
The Logie-winning actress joined the drama's cast last week as production of the reunion special, Back To The Rafters began in Sydney, ahead of its streaming launch on Amazon Prime Video later this year.
Only a week ago her TV 'mum' Rebecca Gibney posted a heartwarming picture embracing Marais, tagging the image "reunited."
But in a statement from Marais' representatives at RGM Management, it was confirmed she had left Rafters and would not continue filming, effective immediately.
"Jessica Marais has decided to step away from the new series Back to the Rafters for personal reasons. She thanks everyone involved on the show for their ongoing support and love, especially her 'Rafters' family' and sends them her very best wishes for the production."
Marais has been brave in her fight with anxiety issues, believed to have stemmed from childhood trauma when her beloved father dropped dead from a heart attack in front of his then nine-year-old daughter.
She spoke of the enduring pain over her academic dad Tony's death back in 2011, telling Seven's Sunday Night she "relives it every day."
It was Valentine's Day and university dean Tony Marais had just moved his wife and young brood from South Africa to a new life in Australia.
Six months into the adventure, the devoted dad was returning home from a family picnic, where he'd complained of "tingling sensations" in his arms.
Marais and her younger sister Clara watched in horror as their father collapsed and died from a heart attack.
"He collapsed very suddenly and, yeah, my sister and I were both present," the actor said.
"It's sort of something you relive I think, everyone that has lost someone … you relive it every day. It feels fresh but obviously time does heal a lot of wounds and I'm definitely much better at coping with it now."
The tragedy "marooned" the grieving family left behind in Perth, where Marais said her mother Karen "pulled us through a very hard time".
Nominated for two Logies, including the top Gold gong in 2018, Marais succumbed to her anxiety issues and withdrew from the industry gala to seek treatment.
She shares custody of daughter Scout with her former partner and Home And Away actor, James Stewart.