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EXCLUSIVE: Asher Keddie on her "challenging" Nine Perfect Strangers gig and what it was like working with Nicole Kidman

''I had been hoping at some point in my career that I would be able to work with her!''

By Scott Ellis
In the middle of one of Australia's continuing lockdowns, as a result of the COVID pandemic, Asher Keddie is still managing to see the silver living.
With her two children Luca, 12 and Valentina, seven "buzzing around watching YouTube videos and being really loud", as work has ground to a temporary halt and even the distraction of travel off the books while borders are closed, Asher is happily enjoying the time at home after shooting the Amazon Prime drama Nine Perfect Strangers.
"We're having a good morning here," Asher, 47 tells TV WEEK from her Melbourne home.
"(Lockdown) has its challenges, but really we spend so much time together anyway, we (she and portrait artist husband Vincent Fantauzzo) don't have office jobs, so it doesn't feel that different. It's just psychologically, it does affect you because your freedom is just is not there.
On Nine Perfect Strangers, Asher plays Heather, a mum trying to hold her family together after a tragedy that could easily tear them apart. (Image) Amazon Prime
"I think that's the thing we find most challenging, but we're coming out of it strongly and positively. And we just try and do that for the kids first and foremost, to make sure that we help them to be resilient, instead of kind of getting down on ourselves about it."
It's a trait she shares with her Nine Perfect Strangers character Heather, a mum trying to hold her family together after a tragedy that could easily tear them apart.
She and her husband Naploleon (Michael Shannon) are barely communicating, their daughter Zoe (Grace Van Patten) is drifting away as her 21st birthday nears and the only hope is a wellness retreat run by the mysterious Masha (Nicole Kidman).
Masha promises to rebuild Heather and her family and make them stronger, so despite the prospect of that renovation requiring a complete demolition to get started, Heather jumps at the chance.
On the drama series, Asher and her on-screen husband Naploleon (Michael Shannon) have a tumultuous marriage. (Image) Amazon Prime
Family, both actor and character agree, is everything.
"Heather certainly has a lot going on, as does the whole family," Asher says.
"They very tragically lost their son, Zoe's twin brother three years previously and they've come to the Wellness Retreat to I think reconnect with each other.
"They are really just reaching to live better."
Living better through trying times is a theme Asher has explored before, most effectively through what is arguably her best-known role as Nina Proudman in the long-running drama Offspring. Asher won the TV WEEK Gold Logie in 2013 for her performance.
Asher is married to Archibald Prize-winning portrait artist Vincent Fantauzzo. (Image: Instagram)
Over a roller-coaster seven seasons, Nina found and lost love and family before ultimately realising she was the only one who could control her own happiness. It was often a tough journey for the character, the actor and even viewers, but Asher admits she has never been afraid to take on those tough roles.
"I've never been one to shy away from the more complicated emotions of a character," she says.
"That's what I like doing. I like exploring things that I don't quite understand and I don't quite grasp, otherwise it's not fun for me and it's not challenging.
"This was challenging."
It was also, she happily admits, a chance to seize an opportunity she'd been waiting for, to work with Nicole Kidman.
Asher and Vincent share two children; Luca, 12 and Valentina, seven. (Image) Instagram
"I had been hoping at some point in my career that I would be able to work with her!" Asher says. "I think the world of her. I think she's brilliant, her work ethic is incredible, she's funny, generous and she's a really great leader on set. It was a very enjoyable experience."
And finding a way through the hard journey Heather has to make to find her life again? That's something that resonates even more as Asher, like most of the world, looks for hope and a better way of living.
"I think we're all universally thinking about that, especially at the moment," Asher says.
"I think the series is really timely in what it explores. It's timely and confronting, but that's good. Drama is great when it's like that!"

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