Kerry’s testing times
Kerry Armstrong is building on her strengths, writes Darren Devlyn
KERRY Armstrong, renowned for lighting up the screen in a string of film and TV projects including Lantana, SeaChange and Bed of Roses, is a rarity in the acting business.
Unlike most of her contemporaries, who fear that doing or saying the wrong thing could have a detrimental effect on how they are perceived, Armstrong has the self-assurance to speak openly and honestly about life at and away from work.
It’s apparent when you watch her play Louisa Atherton in Bed of Roses that her years of experience are integral to her performance as a deeply complex, resourceful woman.
Which brings us to the subject of Armstrong coming to the realisation that embracing her maturity, rather than railing against it, will ensure her longevity on stage and screen.
‘‘ Every time I sit in the make-up chair my make-up artist checks behind my ears (for signs of a nip and tuck), doesn’t he,’’ Armstrong, 52, says with a laugh.
‘‘ He says the moment he finds some evidence he’ll be putting it out on Twitter. If ever I decide to do that (cosmetic surgery), Rebecca (close friend Rebecca Gibney) and I have agreed that we’ll be wheeled in for it together!
‘‘ The weird thing is that it’s young people who have been put off wrinkles,’’ Armstrong adds. ‘‘ Now, if a person has a face like a plate, a flat surface without a mark on it, then that’s good looking? Seriously, I truly don’t get that.
‘‘ All my role models are now in their 60s to 80s . . . Gena Rowlands, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench. That’s where I’d hope to be heading, great roles for ex- perienced women. I’ll be OK. I know I don’t have a time limit on my ability or technique.’’
That technique has been put to the test in the third season of Bed of Roses, in which a disaster strikes the community of Rainbow’s End. The storyline affected Armstrong deeply because it rekindled memories of the loss of friends, actor Reg Evans and his partner Angela Brunton, in the Black Saturday fires.
Armstrong’s mettle was also tested when she travelled to the US to make the film, Reservations. A producer Aloura Charles, who had seen Armstrong in Lantana, wrote the lead Reservations role — a woman waging a battle with breast cancer— for Armstrong.
‘‘ It was interesting exploring how brave women are in fighting breast cancer,’’ Armstrong says.
‘‘ And also to come across a story where a woman was letting breast cancer beat her and not able to find a way through her despair.
‘‘ I spent time with girls in that predicament (who have cancer), who said they felt intense pressure to be brave when they didn’t feel like they wanted to be on a lot of days’’. Picture: REBECCA MICHAEL
Armstrong has over the years had her ups and downs while working in the US.
After studying at the Herbert Berghof acting studio in New York, she landed key theatre roles and a part in Dynasty.
Then she met Tim Robbins, ditched Dynasty and found creative solace with artist group The Actors’ Gang before returning to Australia.
‘‘ It’s (Reservations) an incredible role I was asked to play and also great to be asked to work in the States again, which hopefully I’ll be able to do more as my boys (Sam, Callum and Jai) get older,’’ Armstrong says. Bed of Roses, ABC1, Saturday, 7.30pm
Back in the USA : Kerry Armstrong has just finished the movie Reservations.