Rachael Taylor is fascinated by Alan Bond’s complex second wife Diana Bliss, writes HOLLY BYRNES
RACHAEL Taylor, like the woman she plays in Nine’s new telemovie House of Bond, is sparkling company, a deep thinker and beautiful.
We may be on set, in a makeshift tent in a Darlinghurst park you wouldn’t normally frequent at night, but Taylor is the kind of woman who commands attention in any room.
Explaining what appealed about the role of Diana Bliss – the second wife and long-time mistress of the late business tycoon Alan Bond – the 32-year-old reveals as much about her character as the one she plays so well.
“I’m interested always in people who have to keep secrets for some reason,” she tells TV Guide.
“It’s an interesting thing to do as a human, to stuff things back down and try to hold things in, and to be able to live in a way, certainly in (Bliss’s) relationship, that was sort of clandestine … that must have been really difficult.”
And yet, in other areas of her life, Taylor says of Bliss: “As a public figure, a theatre producer … she was so open. It’s an interesting dichotomy.”
Bliss, who met Bond in 1979, would earn peer acclaim and global accolades as a theatre producer. But, as Taylor argues, that identity would largely be lost in the headlines surrounding her affair and, later, 1995 marriage to Bond.
They wed in a lavish society ceremony in Sydney, before he was jailed in 1997, serving three years of a seven-year sentence for Australia’s biggest corporate fraud.
His dutiful wife would stand by her man, reasoning: “You can’t only be around for the good times.”
Taylor, who fled her own celebrity coupling in 2010 after taking out an AVO against former partner Matthew Newton, is reluctant to judge Bliss but says: “I don’t think I could have stood by a man like Alan Bond … but I think she really loved him.”
After being the mistress, Taylor says “there was a cost to (Bliss) having to live on the sidelines”, adding: “Sometimes the thing we think we’re staying for is not what it turns out to be.” That price, it seems, was Bliss’ mental health – she suffered devastating depression before her suicide in 2012.
Taylor says there’s a “re-narration of women’s achievements often that I don’t like” – women such as Bliss, whose accomplishments risk appearing as footnotes in their husbands’ stories.
“I think there are a lot of women who struggle with that balance of, ‘How do we support not just our partners, but our kids and our friends, and take enough space up for ourselves?’,” she says.
“That’s something I completely relate to.”
HOUSE OF BOND MONDAY AND TUESDAY, 9PM, NINE