Front and centrefold
Asher Keddie relishes roles with substance, writes Colin Vickery
ASHER Keddie has stamped herself as one of Australia’s most prodigious acting talents. And she’s done it without fleeing Australia to ‘‘ try her luck’’ in the US.
In the past 12 months Keddie, 36, has had three TV roles that would be the envy of any A-list performer.
Keddie grabbed the lead role of flaky 30-something obstetrician Nina Proudman in the hit series Offspring.
She followed up by playing Blanche d’Alpuget in the critically acclaimed telemovie Hawke, and will enhance her acting status with her take on renowned magazine editor Ita Buttrose in Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.
In the past week Keddie has been honoured with a Gold Logie nomination, a Silver Logie nomination for Most Popular Actress and a Silver Logie nomination for Most Outstanding Actress.
Offspring has picked up a nod for Most Popular Drama Series and Hawke for Most Outstanding Drama Series, Miniseries or Telemovie.
‘‘ It has been crazytown,’’ a delighted Keddie says.
‘‘ My initial reaction (to the Gold Logie nomination) was that it was incredible because, let’s be honest, the characters I have chosen to play over the years haven’t always been easy to like.’’
Keddie is right. Nina can often be downright infuriating as she skittles around innercity Melbourne looking for love and other catastrophes.
The Australian public has always had mixed feelings about d’Alpuget and her relationship with former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Buttrose is widely admired, but some have felt intimidated by her steely determination.
Paper Giants tracks the rise of groundbreaking women’s magazine Cleo in the 1970s.
The drama centres on then 30-year-old Buttrose and her intriguing relationship with 35-year-old Kerry Packer.
The pair battled domineering media giant Sir Frank Packer to create a racy magazine including a male nude centrefold that resonated with liberated Aussie women.
Keddie says she and Buttrose ‘‘ had a few intense meetings’’ about the role.
‘‘ Ita was very much concerned with the facts and that it be a true story, to the point of every single word spoken,’’ Keddie says. ‘‘ I respected that, but I needed to understand how she felt (during those times) in her professional life and personal life.
‘‘ She is a deeply private person and I think it may have been challenging for her as well as me to let herself be portrayed in as open a way as possible, which is what I wanted to do. She’s an incredibly strong character, but she also has her vulnerabilities, and I hope Paper Giants shows that, too.’’
In 2007 60 Minutes founding producer Gerald Stone detailed a love affair between Buttrose and Packer in his book Who Killed Channel Nine?
According to Stone, Packer fell madly in love with Buttrose and even discussed marriage.
Buttrose didn’t comment on the revelations, saying that she wanted the past behind her.
‘‘ We wanted to concentrate on the (professional) partnership,’’ Keddie says. ‘‘ Sir Frank was convinced it (Cleo) was going to fail and he told them repeatedly they were idiots.’’
Keddie has spent the past six months filming the second series of Offspring and promises it will ‘‘ dig deeper’’ into Nina.
‘‘ There are some really interesting relationships that force her to look at how she’s running her life,’’ Keddie says.
And the US is definitely not on the cards.
‘‘ It just wasn’t my path to do that (go to the US),’’ she says. ‘‘ The opportunities are here in Australia. I’m in a very lucky place.’’ Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, ABC1, Sunday, 8.30pm
Pure gold: Asher Keddie and Ita Buttrose.