Just call me madam

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Pay-tv - COLIN VICK­ERY

KESTIE Mo­rassi has been to some dark places lately. First there was her role as tor­mented Bri­tish back­packer Kristie Earl in hor­ror-thriller Wolf Creek, then lawyer Zarah GardeWil­son in Un­der­belly.

Now Mo­rassi is im­mersed in the se­cret world of sex work­ers in Sat­is­fac­tion.

The strik­ing brunette plays emo­tion­ally con­stricted 232 brothel owner Natalie DeLuca. She re­port­edly au­di­tioned for Nat, not one of the sex work­ers, be­cause she was con­cerned how much nu­dity a sex­worker role would re­quire.

‘‘There is a bit of pros­ti­tute in all of us, but to per­form those roles, like the girls do on Sat­is­fac­tion, you need to be comfortable with your body,’’ Mo­rassi has said. ‘‘I am — but not on cam­era.’’ The sec­ond se­ries of Sat­is­fac­tion takes Natalie on a roller­coaster emo­tional jour­ney as she copes with the death of her fa­ther. A power strug­gle with Mel (Madeleine West) and the pres­sures of run­ning 232 force Nat to con­front her fear of in­ti­macy.

‘‘Her fa­ther’s pass­ing brings about a lot of changes,’’ Mo­rassi says.

‘‘Any reg­u­lar per­son would seek so­lace in talk­ing to other peo­ple (about prob­lems) but she has only her­self be­cause she’s re­ally not used to re­lat­ing to peo­ple in an in­ti­mate way.

‘‘A lot of it is about keep­ing busy and be­ing in de­nial about how she’s feel­ing, but even­tu­ally things have to come to a head and there’s a break­down.

‘‘I’ve never played a char­ac­ter who is so goal-ori­ented. She’s one of those peo­ple who would set a daily goal, a weekly goal, a yearly goal and a five-year goal. I read a lot of man­age­ment books, such as One Minute Man­ager, to pre­pare for the role.’’

Mo­rassi vis­ited broth­els be­fore play­ing Natalie and says talk­ing to pros­ti­tutes and madams changed her out­look on the in­dus­try.

‘‘The one thing that struck me the most was the dig­nity the girls had and, in a weird way, the ded­i­ca­tion they had to do­ing a good job,’’ she says.

‘‘It was fas­ci­nat­ing how many of them were car­ers — nurses or moth­ers — out­side the broth­els.

‘‘There were a few where you felt sad for them — there was a Sat­is­fac­tion, MA15+ Show­case, Tues­day, 8.30pm Life in­side a brothel Du­ra­tion: 55 min­utes sad­ness in their eyes — but when I started to talk to them they said they feel like they’re do­ing a com­mu­nity ser­vice. Th­ese girls need to be there, the in­dus­try needs to be there, and it’s a re­ally hard job.’’

It is Natalie’s re­la­tion­ship with Mel’s brother, Sean, played by Dustin Clare, that brings some much-needed joy to her life.

‘‘As things go on, you see cracks in the ve­neer,’’ Mo­rassi says.

‘‘You see a fun side to her. She can be quite witty.’’

PLAY­ING Zarah GardeWil­son in Un­der­belly left an in­deli­ble im­pres­sion on Mo­rassi.

It’s the first time she’s been recog­nised and ap­proached by peo­ple on the street and it makes her un­com­fort­able.

‘‘I’ve never re­ally been recog­nised on the street be­fore but I sup­pose it comes from be­ing on a pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion pro­gram,’’ she says. ‘‘I would rather not get recog­nised. I see that as a down­side to act­ing, per­son­ally.

‘‘Try­ing to re­search her (GardeWil­son) was re­ally dif­fi­cult. She only did one tele­vi­sion in­ter­view (be­fore film­ing started on Un­der­belly), but I didn’t get to see it. I had to go on news­pa­per ar­ti­cles and pho­tos of her so I didn’t have a lot to go on. I pretty much played her as a woman in love.

‘‘I be­lieve the le­gal­i­ties of play­ing a char­ac­ter like that meant Chan­nel 9 were afraid of de­pict­ing her in any kind of way other than a favourable way.’’

Sat­is­fac­tory role:

Kestie Mo­rassi plays brothel owner Natalie DeLuca.

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