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EXCLUSIVE: Rachel Griffiths on being older, wiser and home from Hollywood

Aussie-turned Hollywood golden girl tells Woman's Day about her new gig – and it’s on home soil.

By Claire Isaac
For actress and director Rachel Griffiths, coming home to Australia after 10 years in the US meant a chance to regroup, to try new things and also soak up some good old Aussie home life.
"I didn't want to be under a TV contract for five years," she tells Woman's Day of her decision to settle in Melbourne.
"I'd been under contract consistently for 10 years on two shows. As well as that, I realised I've suffered terrible homesickness in all the periods I've been out of this country."
Now 52 – "I look so old, my phone doesn't recognise my face. It's decided I'm no longer Rachel Griffiths!" – Rachel, her artist husband Andrew Taylor and their children Banjo, 17, Adelaide, 15, and Clementine, 11, don't regret a thing after making their return in 2012.
Rachel smiles at just how quintessentially "home" she is.
"I'm living in St Kilda, where 
I lived in my early 20s. I live 50 metres from a share house I used to live in. I go to the same cafe I went to when I was 18!"
While she may have put an end to those tight Hollywood contracts, Rachel has certainly not stopped working. Indeed, our TV screens have seen her star on shows like House Husbands, Barracuda, Paper Giants and Aftertaste in recent years.
And her career continues to go from strength to strength – the second season of her political drama Total Control almost wrapped, and another season of young adult show The Wilds is also mid-filming.
Rachel, pictured on the set of Total Control, is so happy to be home in Oz. (Image: Instagram)
She's diversifying, too. With a successful directorial film debut under her belt – 2019's Ride Like A Girl – she is now executive producing the ABC's Finding The Archibald.
This three-part series takes a look at the world-famous Archibald Prize, the Australian art world's oldest portrait award, 
as it celebrates 100 years.
Oh, and did we mention Rachel also hosts the show?
"I was probably the most nervous about being that person," she laughs, of playing herself on screen.
Rachel is the host of the new ABC show Finding The Archibald. (Image: ABC)
"But I know I can talk to anyone. My mother says I could talk the leg off a table, even as a child. One time my mum couldn't get me from kindergarten and she sent a taxi. The taxi driver dropped me off and he said, 'What do 
you feed that kid, birdseed or something?' Because I'd just gone, 'Blah, blah, blah.'"
With a painter for a spouse and a mother who was an art teacher, Rachel is well-qualified to present a show about such a highbrow topic – though she's quick to point out she wanted to make sure Finding The Archibald is watchable and entertaining, too.
"It's just very accessible," she says.
"There's no point making content if you're not thinking about the audience and how they're viewing it. This show isn't, 'Sit down and eat your vegetables!' This show really should make you feel like you're having a pavlova!"
Spending more time with her family, like mother Anna (right), was a big draw card for moving back to Australia. (Image: Instagram)
Inevitably, talk turns to Rachel's breakthrough role as Rhonda in 1994's Muriel's Weddingone of her most-loved characters.
"Rhonda is my better self," says Rachel fondly.
"Rhonda could talk to anyone. The thing about Rhonda is she just had this resilience – she didn't care what people think."
"There have been times where I've tried to go, 'What would Rhonda say?' about how I've done something or let someone down. Of all my characters, she'd be the one that goes, 'Have a cocktail. You screwed up. Move on. You're only human.'"
With daughter Clementine and son Banjo in 2015. (Image: Getty)
Like most of us, the past 18 months have thrown up a few "what would Rhonda say?" moments, particularly in the midst of the severe Melbourne COVID lockdowns.
But Rachel's Instagram feed seems to show she found solace in the most intimate of spaces.
"I had a very close relationship with my laundry," Rachel giggles, referring to the Stories From My Laundry videos she has posted on Instagram, which featured sock puppets performing her most memorable characters, and lessons in tie-dyeing and washing.
Finding The Archibald premieres Tuesday, 8.30pm, ABC and ABC iview.

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