Life my way lifts Kar­van

Hor­ror movies and moth­er­hood are a fun mix, writes Erin McWhirter

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News -

AS­MILE creeps across Clau­dia Kar­van’s face as she re­flects on her life as a mother, pro­ducer and ac­tor.

Kar­van en­joys a healthy bal­ance of work and play, but watch­ing chil­dren Au­drey, 7, and Al­bee, 2, de­velop has of­fered un­ex­pected ful­fil­ment.

‘‘They are just won­der­ful,’’ the 36-year-old says of her chil­dren with part­ner Jeremy Sparks.

‘‘It’s a fan­tas­tic re­lief and release, some­times more like an es­cape when you en­ter into a child’s world and push a swing for an hour. Then other times it’s great to get to work and get away from moth­er­hood for a while.’’

Two years ago Kar­van was tired af­ter three suc­cess­ful sea­sons pro­duc­ing, writ­ing and star­ring in Fox­tel’s Love My Way. It was time to step back from pro­duc­ing and fo­cus on act­ing and fam­ily.

The men­tally gru­elling sto­ry­lines of Love My Way helped steer Kar­van in an un­ex­pected di­rec­tion — to­wards big-screen hor­ror.

She has com­pleted film­ing Day­break­ers along­side Ethan Hawke and The Long Week­end with James Caviezel, both films de­signed to have you hid­ing un­der the cov­ers at night. Film­ing hor­ror, Kar­van ex­plains, has added a new di­men­sion to her act­ing.

‘‘I’ve never even au­di­tioned or thought of do­ing hor­ror be­fore,’’ she says.

‘‘I loved it. I can’t give away too much be­cause it will ruin it, but I had some great pros­thet­ics in The Long Week­end and had a cross­bow in Day­break­ers with a lit­tle bit of fight­ing on a desk with a vam­pire. It was new and it was great.’’

Af­ter fend­ing off vam­pires and demons, Kar­van turned back to tele­vi­sion and started delv­ing into the deeply con­fronting world of Ju­lia We­ston in SBS tele­movie Saved.

A story of a com­plex love tri­an­gle which emerges af­ter the SIDS death of We­ston’s first child with hus­band Peter (Andy Rodereda), Saved fol­lows a bro­ken woman who be­comes the ad­vo­cate for a young Ira­nian de­tainee, Amir (Osamah Sami), and de­vel­ops a re­la­tion­ship with him that threat­ens her mar­riage.

Play­ing a tor­tured mother strug­gling to cope with the loss of a child isn’t a new sce­nario for Kar­van. Ask any Love My Way fan to re­call the most chill­ing and heart-wrench­ing sto­ry­line of the se­ries and they will point to episode eight, sea­son one, when Kar­van’s on-screen daugh­ter dropped dead from car­diomy­opa­thy.

The episode is ar­guably the most af­fect­ing in the his­tory of lo­cal tele­vi­sion drama.

Saved, di­rected and writ­ten by AFI award win­ner Tony Ayres ( Home Song Sto­ries), is not de­signed as a po­lit­i­cal piece. It’s about a woman reach­ing out to a to­tal stranger to es­cape the har­row­ing life she’s en­dur­ing.

Kar­van cam­paigned against the Howard gov­ern­ment’s treat­ment of refugees around the time of the Tampa and Chil­dren Over­board in­ci­dents in 2003.

The ac­tor, how­ever, says her in­ter­est in the Saved role doesn’t stem from her com­mit­ment to aid­ing refugees.

Though Kar­van re­lied on re­search notes and a few meet­ings with refugee ad­vo­cates for Saved, she also read a book on the sub­ject that ‘‘was so up­set­ting I couldn’t get through it’’.

‘‘It’s such a de­press­ing time in our his­tory, it kind of makes your stom­ach turn,’’ she says.

Mum’s the word:

Clau­dia Kar­van loves es­cap­ing into the world of her chil­dren . . . just not all the time.

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