Susie Porter joins cast selfie after cast selfie, smiling and mugging for the camera with her friends in Wentworth. The prison drama has taken out its second TV WEEK Logie Award for Most Outstanding Drama in a row, and Susie, who plays top dog Marie, celebrates with hugs, laughter and contentment.
"I just think it's such a brilliant show to be a part of," an elated Susie tells TV WEEK. "We realise it's a show that's well loved around the world, and it's sold all around the world, and we get fans from all over the place."
Yet for all the photos and champagne toasts, Susie confesses she'll soon be calling it a night.
"For prison birds, we're all grannies," she says with a laugh. "I think a lot of us are going home early. I reckon Robbie Magasiva will stay up late, and Bernie [Bernard Curry], The ladies, we've got to get our beauty sleep, you know!"
But there's no rest for the wicked, nor the wickedly good, and Susie is wickedly good at her craft.
Her performance as the Muse in Stan's psychological thriller The Second landed her a TV WEEK Logie Award nomination for Most Outstanding Supporting Actress, and her continuing portrayal of Marie Winter on Wentworth keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.
"To be honest, she's not the most likeable character," Susie concedes of Marie, a conniving crime boss who came into Wentworth in season six on an assault charge.Since being sentenced to a 15-year term, Marie's risen to top dog in the yard, poisoning Ruby (Rarriwuy Hick) for killing her son, carrying on an affair with acting Governor Will Jackson (Robbie Magasiva), and being the prime suspect in the death of Kaz Proctor (Tammy MacIntosh). But her hold on power is as tenuous as her hold on her own temper.
"You're not quite sure if Marie's telling the truth or not, but she does actually have genuine feelings," Susie explains. "Because, chop and change, a lot of people don't think I do, but I do. I'm full-rounded. And I'm a total survivor. My childhood was violent, and so that informs my character. That's how I am."
And in an acclaimed 23-year career that has included a Logie-winning lead role as nurse Helen Tremain in the 2006 miniseries RAN, plus recent parts in projects as varied as Hounds Of Love, Ladies In Black and Seven Types Of Ambiguity, Susie holds Marie in the highest regard.
"She's the most complex character I've ever played," Susie, 48, declares. "I've played a lot of lovely characters – warm, lovely ones and also some hard-a**e characters – but I've loved every minute of playing someone like Marie, who has so many things going on."
Away from sets, the actress from Newcastle, NSW, enjoys spending time with her husband of nine years, therapist Chris Mordue.
"We renovated our apartment, and we've travelled," she says. "We've done London and been in America. And also, you just need to take a little step back sometimes, just mend the nets a bit.
"It's OK to have a little down time," she adds, even if it's forced down time. "I'm really happy to do nothing!"
When she is ready for work, she's as happy out of teal tracksuits as in them. "I'm always interested in something that challenges me and something I haven't played before," Susie says. "I think that's kind of what it's about, stuff that..."
At this, she trails off in thought, then smiles. "I would love to play a nun," Susie admitted, "because I'm quite fierce in this [in Wentworth as Marie]. I'd love to play very feminine, just completely opposite. Anything that completely stretches me as an actor."
To that end, Susie is reading novels with an eye towards adapting one as a producer, and keeping her eye on more Wentworth scripts.
"I feel so grateful," she reiterates. "Really, I just hope it continues in that vein for seasons eight and nine!"
The Wentworth season finale airs Tuesday July 30 at 8.30pm (AEST) on FOX Showcase.