‘H2O: Just Add Water’ Cast Reflect on Their Auditions

It’s been over a decade since the last episode of H2O: Just Add Water aired. But that hardly stops fans from keeping up with the cast and longing for new episodes. In fact, the Australian show was so incredibly popular that it inspired two spinoff shows: Mako: Island of Secrets and H2O: Mermaid Adventures. The popular show also launched the careers of Phoebe Tonkin, Cariba Heine, and Claire Holt. But just how did the three actors land the roles of Cleo, Rikki, and Emma in H2O: Just Add Water?

H2O: Just Add Water cast Cariba Heine, Phoebe Tonkin, and Claire Holt
Cariba Heine, Phoebe Tonkin, and Claire Holt | Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

For Tonkin and Holt, their acting experiences were very limited before they joined the cast of H2O: Just Add Water. In fact, in an interview with Inspired by Savannah Tonkin revealed that she was pretty new to auditions when she auditioned for Cleo. Fortunately for the actor, her natural charm and nerves were exactly what her character called for. “I had barely been on any auditions before my H20 audition, so I was very giggly and awkward, which turned out perfectly because that’s exactly who Cleo is.”

The ‘H2O: Just Add Water’ cast reflects on their auditions

Tonkin also admits to stretching the truth about how strong of a swimmer she was. “I also told the director, Colin Budds, that I was a good swimmer, which I was far from,” the actor added. “But I jumped straight into training to prepare after I was cast.” While Tonkin wasn’t the strongest swimmer, Holt took after her character, Emma, when it came to her aquatic skills. In fact, she credits her swimming skills as the sole reason she was cast in H2O: Just Add Water.

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“I’d done a few TV commercials and my agent at the time sent me an audition to play a mermaid on a new kids tv show,” Holt wrote on her Instagram page when a fan asked her how she ended up in H2O: Just Add Water. “I had no idea how to act but I loved to swim and was good at holding my breath underwater. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason I booked the job. I was lucky enough to learn everything on set.”

Phoebe Tonkin and Cariba Heine had to have extensive swimming lessons

Heine was a bit more experienced than her H2O: Just Add Water castmates. Prior to booking the role of Rikki, she’d already acted in a short film. “It was a fairly normal casting process, we all read for roles then came back for callbacks and then we eventually went up to Queensland (where we shot H2o) and did more chemistry reads and finally swim tests to see if our Stunt Coordinator, Mitch, would be able to train us up to a level where we could swim with the tails.”

Heine confessed that she, like Tonkin, was not a strong swimmer. But the pair of them worked hard in order to be where they needed to by the time they began shooting H2O: Just Add Water. “I think the funniest casting story looking back would have been Mitch’s reaction to Phoebs and I swimming,” Heine shared. “He said he saw us flailing around in the water and secretly thought ‘there’s no way I’m ever going to be able to get these two to swim believably like mermaids in 8 weeks’. But he did a brilliant job of training us and in the end, we showed him.”

Seasons 1-4 of ‘H2O: Just Add Water’ are currently streaming on YouTube

It’s clear that Tonkin, Heine, and Holt all pulled off the necessary swimming and acting needed to make H2O: Just Add Water a success. If you’re in need of some Mako magic, all three seasons of the show are currently streaming on YouTube.