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EXCLUSIVE: Julia Stiles talks motherhood and why she might not return to acting

She’s taking some much-needed time off for her newborn.

By Amber Giles

Congratulations are in order - actress Julia Stiles and husband Preston J Cook have welcomed their first child!

Julia, 36, announced the arrival of her newborn, named Strummer Newcomb Cook, in a gorgeous Instagram post today.

"Strummer Newcomb Cook, born October 20, 2017. Thanks and ever thanks to the extraordinary doctors, nurses and staff at Mount Sinai for helping bring this utter joy into our lives. Hello, World!," she wrote.

Julia spoke to TV WEEK just before the arrival of little Strummer to talk about her latest role on SBS drama Riviera and hinted she might give up acting with the arrival of her new baby!

Tell us why you put up your hand for the role of Georgina in Riviera.
“Largely because I really enjoyed [creator and writer] Neil Jordan’s movies. When I asked him what the premise for the show was, he said, “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.” I thought that was an interesting concept to explore. Also, the show felt very unique. The setting of the French Riviera is very thematic and romantic, but underneath it you have this corruption and deceit. And there’s the story of a woman who’s dealing with grief and tragedy, and discovering that everything about her marriage was a fraud.”

Do you feel that more and more shows are casting women as the lead?
“I think there are more shows with female leads – but I think they’re usually created by those [same] women. I can think of a lot of comedies and maybe a few dramas. But usually the driving force behind it has been the actress who created it.”

How would you describe Georgina’s relationship with husband Constantine [Anthony LaPaglia]? We see him die early in the first episode – and then everything she knew about their life unravels.
“Well, most of what we see of their relationship is through her memories. Memory is a very tricky thing, because your memories of a situation can change. We do see her having memories of being with him in ways that are very lovely and romantic and exciting. And then, as she learns more about the deceit in their marriage, her memory crumbles and becomes something else. She knows she should have been more suspicious of him.”

Julia on set in *Riviera*
Julia on set in Riviera

How does Georgina deal with those emotions of love and feeling betrayed?
“She avoids those emotions. She’s so focused on his death – and also staying out of jail – that she avoids her emotions for a long time. Then, the thing she discovers or learns, which is a hard lesson, is that it can be both those things. She can feel like she was used and she can feel like she was an easy mark, but then she can also still love him. It’s heartbreaking and kind of strange to love someone who also wasn’t treating you well.”

What was it like working with Anthony LaPaglia? Had you crossed paths before?
“We’d almost done a play together. I think we were going to do A View From The Bridge, the Arthur Miller play, a long time ago. We hadn’t seen each other in forever. I love working with him! We kept wanting him to come back. We kept making excuses to give him flashbacks in the show because he was so great.”

Julia with husband, Preston
Julia with husband, Preston

Your catalogue of work ranges from hit romcom 10 Things I Hate About You to TV series Dexter and The Bourne Identity movies. What checklist do you go through before accepting a role?
“In my early days, like most actors, you just want to get hired! You want to be taken seriously. As I’ve got older and grown in my career, I have more of a sense of the business side of this industry. Not that anyone can predict what will be successful, but I think I take into consideration a lot more factors.”

Julia with the late Heath Ledger in *10 Things I Hate About You*
Julia with the late Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You

In the acting world, there’s no maternity leave program – you have to make it up yourself. Have you thought about how long you might stay out of the spotlight?
“It is making it up as you go along – that’s very true. I feel so lucky I’ve been able to take time to just be pregnant – although that wasn’t by choice either! Once you start showing, it’s much harder to get work. When the baby comes, I feel lucky that I have a choice to have that time [with my child] before I go back to work.”

You might not even want to go back…
“That’s definitely possible. I’ve heard from some mums that they were excited to go back to work, but then felt the complete opposite. I don’t think I’ll be that way. I feel like being a new mum is a challenge in and of itself, and it might be hard for me to navigate and just take care of my kid.”

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