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Rachel Griffiths: We’re moving back to Oz!

Rachel Griffiths: We're moving back to Australia

Her son Banjo misses the beach and catching leatherjackets. So Rachel Griffiths’ plan is to pack up, leave Broadway behind and make a new life in Australia. Sharon Krum meets the superstar mum.

When Rachel Griffiths started her acting career in the Victorian community theatre group Woolly Jumpers, she could only dream of her Broadway debut.

Now, she’s adding that achievement to an impressive list of acting honours that includes countless acclaimed television and film performances, as well as a Golden Globe, an AFI and Oscar and Emmy nominations.

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The role in the Broadway play Other Desert Cities will keep her in New York over Christmas, but in mid-January, Rachel, 42, and husband Andrew Taylor, an artist, will take their three children, Banjo, eight, Adelaide, six, and Clementine, two, back home for a Sydney summer.

“We will base ourselves there, hang out, become Australian again,” she says, smiling. Fans can catch her in her new movie, Burning Man, set on Bondi Beach.

How do you balance your love of acting with motherhood?

I played a mother for five years on television, which was super satisfying. I loved playing a character who juggled, sometimes well, sometimes badly — it was where I was at. It’s hard [to get the balance] on the long-haul TV stuff. I feel a little bit guilty about doing Broadway because it’s so satisfying for me and I’m not getting home to tuck [the children] in. But my husband and I try to balance our work schedules, so when I was off, Andrew was painting [he has a show in New York this month].

Your TV series Brothers & Sisters has finished its run. Do you miss it?

I miss the cast, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t get a text from Sally [Field] or Matthew [Rhys] or Calista [Flockhart] or Gilles [Marini], so we are still incredibly close and will be forever.

In your new film, Burning Man, you play a sometime lover of a man who is struggling to raise his son after the death of his wife. What was that like?

It’s every parent’s fear, becoming ill and leaving their children behind. The idea of a mother in her prime leaving a family [as in the film] is something you can’t even conceive.

How do you prepare them for that?

I almost died having Clementine. I had a spontaneous uterine rupture and, for three days, I was extremely touch and go. So my husband stared down the long corridor of that for three days. We almost lost her [Clementine], too.

How did you and Andrew recover emotionally from that experience?

That kind of changed me and it changed us. It really did give us that sense that what we have is so fragile, don’t sweat the small stuff and appreciate the family, each other. We have hardly had a bicker since.

The family is moving back to Sydney. Are the kids excited? Do they feel American?

Banjo totally sees himself as Australian. He’ll say he misses the beach and catching leatherjackets, he misses his cousins. I think Addie does [feel Australian], too. Maybe she is more on the fence. They are excited to be going back and know it’s close.

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Do you enjoy the red carpet walk?

I don’t know any actor who does. It’s an assault, those flashbulbs, you’re hoping you’re not sweating. What I do as an actor is inhabit people and hopefully express quite delicate human states, and that doesn’t have a lot to do with red carpet. But I’ve always enjoyed being pregnant on the red carpet because you have a free pass!

Read more of this story in the December issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Subscribe to 12 issues of The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine for only $64.95 and go into the draw to win 1 of 10 fabulous Hawaiian holiday packages, valued at over $12,000 each.

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