Career

Offspring's Asher Keddie: how motherhood changed me

''It's a big conversation in our home – things like, 'How would that work and how much do I really want to do the gig?'''

We all grieved when the final episode of Offspring aired in 2017. What would we do without the endearing Dr Nina Proudman, played by Asher Keddie, and her chaotic sister Billie (Kat Stewart) around to remind us that our own lives were not so crazy after all.
The TV sisters acquired a cult-like following, and Nina's trademark boho-luxe style became a big drawcard of Offspring, with websites and stories dedicated to 'how to dress like Nina'.
Asher Keddie has since returned to our screens in the psychological thriller The Cry, and as one of Australia's most loved actresses, she is not short of work opportunities.
But the TV WEEK Gold Logie winner reveals she's selective about the roles she takes on now, always ensuring they won't interfere with her most important role - that of being a mother.
When TV WEEK caught up with the actress, the mother of three-year-old Valentino and stepmother to Lucas, nine, said that she consults with her kids and husband Vincent Fantauzzo before committing to any project.
"With every choice [I make], the family and the kids come into play.
"It's a big conversation in our home – things like, 'How would that work and how much do I really want to do the gig?'
"If there's something... that I really want to do, then we make it work.
"I think any working mum or dad would feel the same," she adds. "Because sometimes it [work] does come at the cost of your personal life."
Asher with her husband Vincent Fantauzzo, son Valentino and stepson Lucas.
Speaking about The Cry, in which Asher played Alexandra, a mother locked in a bitter court custody battle with her ex husband, Asher says there were aspects of the four-part series that made it too good a project to refuse.
The miniseries is based on the book by bestselling novelist Helen Fitzgerald and it saw Asher starring alongside a well-respected cast including Ewen Leslie (who played Alistair, her ex husband), Jenna Coleman, and Alex Dimitriades.
The intensity of the storyline, which centred around the unspeakable tragedy of the disappearance of a baby, both intrigued and unsettled Asher.
"Reading it [the script], I was mildly traumatised, I have to say," Asher says. "There were a few days I felt highly uncomfortable about the content, in particular the focus on motherhood."
While heart-wrenching to shoot at times, the actress says the show also forced her to question "the myths" that surround motherhood.
"The myths of motherhood are very well addressed," Asher says. "And these two women in our show are explored on a level I haven't seen before, so I was really gripped by that. I thought, 'Wow, what an honest look at the psychology of becoming a mum.'"
The BBC and ABC co-production was filmed in Melbourne and Scotland, affording Asher the chance to take her whole family along to enjoy the ride.
"We thought, 'What a fantastic adventure for the kids,'" she says. "They're still little, so we thought, 'Let's just do it.'"
Once filming wrapped in Scotland, the family jetted off for a holiday around Europe – and Asher says it was a much-needed way to decompress after filming such a gruelling series.
She reveals that the odd glass of wine was needed at the end of some work days to help her unwind.
"When I worked on Offspring, I would work long back-to-back days and often go home exhausted," she says. "But I would always feel like I could drop it and engage with my family afterwards.
"But with this project, I couldn't drop it as easily as anything else I've done before, because it stays with you."
On the subject of , Asher is all too aware that her on-screen persona, Nina Proudman, remains one of Australia's favourite TV characters. The show last aired in 2017 and the star is touched that Nina is still dear to viewers.
"I feel heartened, by how much people loved Nina and the show," Asher says.
The actress still often gets the inevitable question - is Offspring ever likely to return?
"I'm sure I'll be getting that same question in five years time when I'm nearly 50," she laughs.
At this stage, there are no plans to bring Offspring back, she days. However Asher's mantra is simple: never say never.
As Asher settles into the post-Nina stage of her acting career, her future is full of possibilities.
Asher has commenced production on her next role in an Australian local series The Hunting alongside Richard Roxburgh. The drama centres around two high school teachers that discover their students are sharing explicit photos of their friends and peers online.
However, down the line, Asher says she's also interested in moving into more behind-the-scenes roles.
"I've been lucky," she says. "Up until now, I've just kind of gone where the wind takes me, but I'm starting to change. I will always do acting and will always love it. But it doesn't mean I can't do other things as well."
While the thought of making a shift to producing is daunting, Asher feels confident and believes she's ready for this next phase.
"I've got to the point where I think, 'Why do I have to just do one thing?' I'm really focused on developing things, I feel focused on producing," the actress says.
"I don't know if it's because I'm getting older, or because I'm responsible for other people in my life.
"But I feel compelled to tell stories. So I'm going to surround myself with the people I think will really support me and just go for it."