Poppy Montgomery is returning to crime drama in a new series which she both created and stars in, but viewers tuning in to the lush ABC show may be wondering where Reef Break is filmed. The series itself takes place in Nimitz Bay, a town on the fictional U.S. territory of Reef Island. But Reef Break filmed in Queensland, Australia, Montgomery's native country. She grew up in Sydney before moving to the United States as a teenager to pursue acting. And Queensland has actually provided the backdrop for several major recent projects.
ABC’s Harrow, another crime drama currently in its second season, and the 2018's Aquaman both took advantage of the breathtaking Queensland coastline to shoot there. Netflix's Tidelands and Hulu miniseries Safe Harbour also filmed there, along with the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong movie starring Millie Bobby Brown.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the Redland City Bulletin that 75 percent of Reef Break's film crew would be comprised of Queensland local laborers, adding, "Reef Break will spend approximately $41 million directly in Queensland."
"Never before has there been so much action happening in Queensland’s screen industry," she told the paper. "It’s unprecedented."
In Reef Break, Montgomery plays a pro surfer slash ex-crime syndicate member named Cat Chambers, who, since retiring from a life of crime, has returned home to work as a fixer for the governor of Reef Island. She performs the unsavory and frequently less-than-legal tasks the island government needs done while maintaining an air of solving crimes by the book.
Montgomery freely admits that she created the character of Cat to serve as her "alter-ego," telling ABC News that she does all her own water sports stunts actually on the water, rather than using a green screen. "I wanted to live vicariously through her," Montgomery, who identifies as a "mediocre surfer," explains. "So, all of the things that I always wanted to be, she kind of is."
Montgomery also added elements like a sudsy romantic life — Cat has a rolodex of lovers and finds herself in a love triangle during the course of the first season, while Montgomery is happily married with five children — and embellished her own rebellious spirit by making Cat a wildly successful career criminal.
Montgomery is no stranger to helming crime dramas with a female lead; she played FBI agent Samantha Spade on Without a Trace from 2002 to 2009, and then went on to play Detective Carrie Wells on CBS' Unforgettable. But flipping the script on tropical police procedurals by casting a woman in the leading role was also at the forefront of Montgomery's mind when she was crafting the character of Cat. "I don't think I've ever seen a woman on television, certainly not network television, who surfs, and skateboards, and drives Miami Vice-style boats fast," she said. "I don't know that I can recall any show where I've seen a girl do that."
To be sure, getting a show that stars a mom of five in her late-40s speeding off on jet skis on network TV is a huge deal. You can catch Montgomery doing her thing when Reef Break airs Thursday nights on ABC.