Poppy Montgomery catches a ‘Break’ with her new ABC series

Actress was in on development of romantic adventure ‘Reef Break’

Poppy Montgomery

Even if she hasn’t been seen much lately, Poppy Montgomery hasn’t been out of the television game.

The former “Without a Trace” and “Unforgettable” actress spent three years developing a new show for herself as both the star and an executive producer. Premiering Thursday, June 20, ABC’s “Reef Break” – filmed in Montgomery’s native Australia – casts her as Cat Chambers, a former thief now working for a Pacific island’s governor to fix whatever situation needs fixing. Often complicating her efforts are her ex-husband (Ray Stevenson, “Rome”), who happens to be an FBI agent, and the police detective (Desmond Chiam, “Now Apocalypse”) who’s her current love interest.

“It was almost more busy in its own weird way than the simple, lovely job of showing up to do a TV show once it’s already all put together,” the pleasant Montgomery says of being in on “Reef Break’s” ground floor. “Putting one together is something else, but it’s amazing. It took us a while to get this from idea to screen.”

Montgomery reports that she started to formulate “Reef Break” during her journey with “Unforgettable,” a show that was canceled and “uncanceled” twice: “During one of those ‘canceled’ periods, we went and filmed a sort of ‘sizzle reel’ (or sample) for this show on phones in Hawaii, and that was sort of the beginning of what was ‘Reef Break.’ The setting is now a place we’ve created that is a U.S. territory. It doesn’t really exist, so we can make up our own rules.”

That’s also the case with Cat, who evolved from Montgomery’s thought that “I need to be a criminal, I’ve been a cop for so long in my career! One of the inspirations was ‘Point Break’ and Patrick Swayze’s character; Cat’s sort of a member of a surfing gang who’s a criminal, but she always falls in love with cops. She also drives boats really fast and jet-skis, so it’s sort of everything I’d never done all rolled into one character.”

Birthdate: June 15, 1972

Birthplace: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Current residence: Los Angeles

Marital status: Married to Microsoft executive Shawn Sanford; she has a daughter and a son with him, and a son from a previous relationship

Other television credits include: “Unforgettable,” “A Surrogate’s Nightmare,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love,” “Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story,” “Lying to Be Perfect,” “Without a Trace,” “Raising Waylon,” “Glory Days,” “Going to California,” “Blonde,” “The Beat,” “Relativity,” “NYPD Blue,” “Party of Five,” “Silk Stalkings”

Movie credits include: “Between,” “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” “This Space Between Us,” “Life,” “The Other Sister,” “Dead Man on Campus,” “Devil in a Blue Dress”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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