Diving back into acting work as the star of Australia’s first Netflix original series, the supernatural crime drama Tidelands, has taken Elsa Pataky’s connection to her second homeland to a new level.
“To be in your own country and doing what you like to do and just not having to move … I feel that I’m Australian already. You can adopt me,” she said, adding, “Spain might be angry about it!”
A star in her native Spain and in Hollywood – thanks to her role as Elena Naves in mega franchise Fast and Furious – she’s best known here for her role as the wife of Chris Hemsworth.
That could change with Tidelands, but it has given Pataky more than recognition. Being back on a set was “great,” she said at a Sydney event for the show on Tuesday.
“I’ve been a mum for a long time and having that part of just doing what I love and I’m passionate about, it gives you back that creativity.”
When she married superstar Hemsworth, 35, in 2010, Pataky, 42, pressed pause on her professional life to support his career and raise their kids, daughter India, 6, and twin sons Sasha and Tristan, 4.
“It’s hard, because you always feel guilty as a mum. It’s this thing of juggling, but I think you need it. You need to just do something for yourself and something that you really love to do,” she said.
“But it’s been complicated, because I really enjoy being with my kids.”
With the eight-part series Tidelands filmed in locations around Queensland and within driving distance from where the Hemsworth family is building a mega-mansion outside Byron Bay, NSW, “I didn’t have to move everybody to go to work,” she told The New Daily.
“I could just work and almost go back and pick up my kids from school, which was great. It’s such an amazing opportunity. I’m happy and hopefully we can keep shooting and I can be still here.”
A bonus of her commute to the set? “I had those two hours that we were driving – because I don’t have much time with the kids to study my lines – so it was perfect.
“I was like, ‘Yes! I have two hours. Nothing bothers me, running my lines.’ Perfect combination.”
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For the rest of the cast further from home (including New Zealand actor Mattias Inwood and Brazilian star Marco Pigossi), Pataky “was like our mama,” said her Sydney-based co-star Charlotte Best (Home & Away and Puberty Blues).
“She looked after us all. She’d take us to Byron and show us around … She’s like my idol. Comes to work, does her job and then she goes home and does her mum job.
“How the heck do you do that? She’s an incredible woman.”
Co-star Madeleine Madden concurs: “She’s actually cooler than you even think. Just a beautiful human being, inside and out.”
The close-knit cast first bonded during a boot camp that featured aquatic training before shooting the series about a mysterious coastal town partly populated by half-human, half-sirens.
“You actually have to be fit for the pool training that we did,” says Pataky, whose own Netflix binge-list features Ozark and The Sinner.
With the women shooting as many physical scenes as the men in the matriarchal society set up within the show, “It’s good to be fit and to feel that power in your body,” adds Pataky. “It just gives you another energy to play with.”
Shooting in locations like North Stradbroke Island, “Being in the ocean with the sunset … it was like a dream to be able to go to work and you’re in a place like that.
“Dolphins in the background … That was incredible.”
With her first Australian project under her belt, does she feel like a fully-fledged Aussie?
“Well, I live here now, so this is the best-case scenario,” Pataky told The New Daily.
Tidelands premieres on Netflix on December 14, netflix.com/tidelands