Asher Keddie Exclusive: "The moment everything changed"

The actress reveals how motherhood affected her on and off-screen in new series The Cry

By Luke Dennehy
There's something to be said about longevity in show business. In a famously fickle industry, few people manage to achieve it. Some talent burn out too quickly, while others become just another flash in the pan.
As one of Australia's most beloved actresses, Asher Keddie is afforded endless work opportunities.
But nowadays the TV WEEK Gold Logie winner reveals she's picky about the roles she takes on, always ensuring they won't interfere with her most important role: being a mother.
Asher Keddie and her husband Vincent Fantauzzo at the 2018 TV WEEK Logie Awards.
Asher is set to make her small-screen return in upcoming four-part psychological thriller The Cry.
When TV WEEK caught up with the actress on-set, the mother of three-year-old Valentino and stepmother to Lucas, nine, explained how 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," the 44-year-old tells TV WEEK.
"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 like this [The Cry] that I really want to do, then we make it work."
Asher says the dilemma isn't unique.
"I think any working mum or dad would feel the same," she says. "Because sometimes it [work] does come at the cost of your personal life."
Asher with her husband Vincent Fantauzzo, and their children Valentino and Lucas (Image: Instagram).
There were aspects of The Cry that made it a project too good to refuse.
For starters, the miniseries is based on the book by bestselling novelist Helen Fitzgerald. It also sees Asher starring alongside a respected ensemble cast that includes Ewen Leslie, Jenna Coleman, and Alex Dimitriades.
The intensity of the storyline was another key factor. Asher plays Alexandra, a mother locked in a bitter court custody battle with her ex, Alistair, played by Ewen.
During the course of their ugly dispute over their daughter Chloe (Markella Kavenagh), an unspeakable tragedy occurs.
The brutal turn of events makes for high-stakes drama. However, for a real-life mother of young children, the book and scripts made for uncomfortable reading.
"Reading it, 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."
Asher plays Alexandra in The Cry (Image: ABC).
The show's key themes surrounding parenting and motherhood hit close to home for Asher.
"It's not easy, but it's truthful in a way that you kind of can't ignore, and you can't stop questioning," she explains.
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.'"
Without giving too much away, the series addresses this idea of having your suitability as a mother scrutinised. The extreme reactions by the leading ladies gave Asher pause for thought.
"The show makes you think about things like, 'How would you deal with it? How would you behave and what lengths would you go to?'" she says.
Asher with her on-screen daughter Markella Kavenagh, who plays Chloe (Image: ABC).
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.
Asher adds that she also required the odd glass of wine at the end of some work days to help her decompress and 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.
"The story is poignant, it's timely and it's intriguing. It's really just a thinking person's script."
Asher calls The Cry "poignant" (Image: ABC).
Speaking of Offspring, 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 August 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.
As a result, the actress is prepared for the inevitable question about whether Offspring is likely to ever 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. However Asher's mantra is simple: never say never.
Fans adored Offspring couple Nina and Patrick.
As Asher settles into the post-Nina stage of her acting career, her future is bright, with all-new possibilities.
For starters, Asher has already commenced production on her next role in local series The Hunting alongside Richard Roxburgh. The upcoming 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."
Asher proudly clutches her Gold Logie in 2011.
While the thought of making a shift to producing and show creation is daunting, Asher fells 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."
The Cry airs Sunday, 8:40pm, ABC.

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