Kerry’s test­ing times

Kerry Arm­strong is build­ing on her strengths, writes Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

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.

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