Just over 10 years since one of Australia’s most famous ads first aired on TV, Kadek Mahardika, the actor who played the hunky Balinese waiter Ketut in the AAMI Insurance ads, reveals to Woman’s Day that he’s ready to make a major return to the spotlight and has his eyes on one of the country’s biggest shows, Home And Away!
“One hundred per cent, I would jump at the opportunity,” says the 39-year-old.
“I think Australia is ready to see Ketut in Summer Bay.” His wife Laura Jack is equally excited.
“Let’s get him on there, Australia! I want to meet Alf Stewart,” she laughs.
Ketut’s bid comes after his former co-star Mandy McElhinney announced her role on the soap, and Kadek already has some plot lines in mind.
“Imagine Ketut reuniting with Rhonda on the beach? I could serve her a beer!? Or we could already have kids, and they could be having surf lessons,” he enthuses.
Kadek, who says he still hasn’t given up his lifelong dream of acting, admits that securing consistent work has been challenging, but in the meantime he wouldn’t be opposed to trying his hand on reality TV.
“Well, I was asked to do Big Brother, but that was canned due to Covid. But I could see myself doing something like the jungle [on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!]. I think people would get a kick out of seeing Ketut eating bugs and jumping out of helicopters,” laughs Kadek.
“Or something to do with cooking!”
“Kadek is really well known in Bali for his cooking,” Laura says, adding he’s been busy making Balinese spices and sauces for his friends, who can’t get enough of his distinct flavours.
The appetite to see Kadek on our screens has not waned either, with his ads still holding firm in popular culture.
Just recently, Kadek says he was watching The Chase when a question about the ad popped up, and when he was in the car with the kids, radio hosts began talking about it.
He’s even still recognised on the streets.
“He was dropping [daughter] Mila off at basketball practice, and straight away all of the dads were like, “Oh my god, It’s Ketut, It’s Ketut,” says Laura
“They were so nervous to talk to him, too.”
While humble Kadek mostly laughs these encounters off, he does admit it’s been nice for his kids, Mila, 10, and Lenny, seven, to experience a taste of the glamorous life that the ads afforded him a decade ago.
“When the ads first came out, Mila was a baby, and so they’re a bit blown away when they see me on TV now,” he says.
“Lenny still gets a bit confused, but for a little while there, when Mila clued into things, she would go to school and say, ‘My dad is famous. You should Google him,'” he laughs.
Laura also recalls the time, not so long ago, when their young nephew saw the ads pop up on YouTube and called them up in a fit of rage because he believed he was really going out with Rhonda.
“He was like, ‘Where’s Uncle Kadek? I need to speak to him – he’s in big trouble, he has another girlfriend!'” she laughs.
While Kadek is eager to return to the spotlight, he and Laura also ensure that they are devoted to helping their children achieve their dreams, and Kadek may not be the only star in the family soon.
“Mila wants to be an NBA superstar and work at Woolworths – so still very down-to-earth,” Laura giggles.
“And Lenny, I think he’s at that age where he’s trying to keep up with Mila, so right now he’s a big LeBron James fan,” she adds.
“We call him Little Lenny Curry because he watches [basketballer] Stephen Curry all the time on YouTube, watching his moves.
He’s been doing the sidesteps and trying to shoot threes. So they’ve certainly been keeping us busy,” she notes.
And in turn, the kids are also helping out their father on social media, with the star keen to build his profile as the Ketut character online.
“I can’t do TikTok or Twitter or anything like that, and Mila’s really good with editing videos so she’s been helping me create,” says Kadek.
“We’re going to start off with some videos on Instagram and see how we go,” Laura adds. “So watch this space – Ketut is back, baby!”