Front and cen­tre­fold

Asher Ked­die rel­ishes roles with sub­stance, writes Colin Vick­ery

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

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.

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