Smother na­ture

Clau­dia Kar­van found time in her busy sched­ule to play an un­likely char­ac­ter, writes Holly Byrnes

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gaming -

CLAU­DIA Kar­van has just ar­rived from the daily chaos of do­ing the school run and set­tles down with a bowl of baked muesli and a pot of milky tea.

We’re meet­ing over break­fast to chat about her lat­est TV se­ries for the ABC, The Time Of Our Lives, just a week or so af­ter film­ing be­gan on the sec­ond sea­son of Chan­nel 10’s nos­tal­gic hit, Pu­berty Blues.

That sounds like enough on any work­ing mother of two’s plate. But take a seat — this could take a while — there’s more. There’s ‘‘ the lit­tle bit I did on Dark Side, this re­ally ex­cit­ing pro­ject with ( Sam­son & Delilah film di­rec­tor) War­wick Thorn­ton,’’ and ‘‘ a lit­tle bit on The Bet­ter Man, an SBS four-parter, with Anh Do and David Wen­ham’’.

Af­ter that, she did The Bro­ken Shore. ‘‘ That’s go­ing to be great but prob­a­bly won’t come out un­til next year ... ( Lit­tle Fish film­maker) Rowan Woods di­rected it, Ian Col­lie and An­drew Knight wrote it, as an adap­ta­tion of Peter Tem­ple’s novel, down at Port Fairy.’’

Be­tween mouth­fuls, she says: ‘‘ I didn’t know a town like that ex­isted in Aus­tralia, it’s just au­then­ti­cally her­itage.’’

Kar­van bub­bles along warmly about the town, the land­scape, the cast (in­clud­ing her co-star Don Hany — ‘‘ don’t even look at that guy, he’s too hand­some’’) and the happy fam­ily mem­o­ries she has of film­ing it.

‘‘ My kids were on school hol­i­days and my part­ner had time off work, so we had two weeks of horse-rid­ing along the beach and abalone fish­ing, surf­ing ... it was such a beau­ti­ful job, a gift.’’

Kar­van also has two more projects in de­vel­op­ment: a Gina Rine­hart mini-se­ries with the con­tro­ver­sial work­ing ti­tle Mother Mon­ster Mag­nate for Chan­nel 9; and an­other se­ries for the ABC she’s pro­duc­ing with Love My Way col­lab­o­ra­tor Jac­que­line Perske.

Even tak­ing into ac­count the boom time for lo­cal drama pro­duc­tion, Kar­van’s full slate is a tes­ta­ment to her ex­tra­or­di­nary tal­ents, pop­u­lar ap­peal with au­di­ences and a Mi­das touch, es­pe­cially on tele­vi­sion.

Which makes her lat­est role on The Time Of Our Lives, play­ing neu­rotic lawyer-turned­he­li­copter par­ent Caro­line, par- tic­u­larly in­trigu­ing. Why would some­one so nice want to play some­one as un­like­able as this?

Kar­van ad­mits her first reaction to the char­ac­ter, who is so ab­sorbed in mother­ing only child Car­mody she doesn’t no­tice its im­pact on her mar­riage to sports man­ager, Matt (Wil­liam McInnes), was ir­ri­ta­tion.

‘‘ The level of neu­roses, the level of per­fec­tion­ism, the level of self-in­volve­ment, I found, um, un­for­tu­nate,’’ Kar­van says.

‘‘ Then I just be­came so cu­ri­ous about her and why she be­haves the way she does . . . I longed to get into her skin and un­der­stand how she op­er­ated, so I couldn’t re­sist play­ing her.’’

The on­go­ing de­bate about who and what makes a per­fect par­ent will con­nect with the au­di­ence who, a decade ago, were work­ing out their 20-some­thing angst watch­ing

I just be­came so cu­ri­ous about her andwhyshe be­haves the wayshe does

Kar­van on The Se­cret Life Of Us, then set­tling into adult re­la­tion­ships in their 30s with Love My Way.

This search for the best par­ent­ing prac­tise has given Kar­van, mum to Al­bie,6, Au­drey, 12, and step-mother to Hol­i­day, 19, pause for thought about her own style.

‘‘ I’m a mod­ern par­ent in that I al­ways think, re­think and then un­think ev­ery process,’’ she says.

‘‘ Ev­ery­one is sus­cep­ti­ble to that now be­cause we’ve got so much ed­u­ca­tion in the par­ent­ing depart­ment, but then again I’ve got a rea­son­able level of reck­less­ness and freedom and ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity as well.

‘‘ I’m a big be­liever in giv­ing chil­dren freedom. Freedom to make mis­takes, freedom to break their arm . . . I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it’s im­por­tant to learn how to light a fire, get dirty and go to bed with your clothes on. All that stuff is im­por­tant.’’

The ex­tended Tivolli clan at the cen­tre of The Time Of Our Lives re­flects the ‘‘ ter­rific messi­ness’’ of real fam­ily life, Kar­van says, from adop­tion, to di­vorce, to rais­ing happy kids with for­mer part­ners. She laughs at the com­par­i­son be­tween clin­i­cal Caro­line in this and play­ing soul­ful but scatty Frankie on Love My Way.

‘‘ They wouldn’t even talk to each other,’’ Kar­van says. ‘‘ But I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have been able to play Caro­line if I hadn’t been Frankie. It’s nice to ex­er­cise cer­tain mus­cles in your per­son­al­ity. Once you ex­er­cise one, you want to try the po­lar op­po­site.’’ The Time of Our Lives, ABC1, Sun­day, 8.30pm

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