Entertainment TV ‘I couldn’t shake this’: Asher Keddie tells why making drama The Cry was so personal

‘I couldn’t shake this’: Asher Keddie tells why making drama The Cry was so personal

Asher Keddie The Cry
Asher Keddie (in The Cry) says the ABC drama looks at "the myths of motherhood." Photo: ABC
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For seven rollercoaster seasons, Gold Logie nominee Asher Keddie played family drama-prone obstetrician Nina Proudman, delivering a wealth of babies at the fictional St Francis Hospital on Ten’s Offspring.

When last seen on screens, Nina was pregnant with her second baby and immersed in the delights of family, which makes her latest role in four-part miniseries The Cry all the more startling.

Instead of bringing newborns into joyous life, Keddie’s role in the harrowing psychological drama – an ABC and BBC co-production adapted from the novel by Australian author Helen Fitzgerald – sees her at the centre of a drama that hinges on a baby who has inexplicably gone missing.

“I read the book and I didn’t sleep for three nights I was so disturbed by it, but you get really compelled by the story,” the star tells The New Daily.

Keddie, 44, is on the phone after a month-long summer break in Western Australia and Bali with her artist husband Vincent Fantauzzo, 42, and sons Valentino, 3, and 9-year-old Luca from his previous marriage.

The couple married on Turtle Island in Fiji in 2014. On their fourth wedding anniversary last April, Keddie posted to social media a rare photo tribute to Fantauzzo.

“Thank you for giving me these beautiful boys, and all your hot blooded Irish Italian goodness,” she wrote. “Family forever.”

She also paid tribute to her husband on his birthday in September:

View this post on Instagram

Happy Birthday love of my life. You are the best. ❤️❤️

A post shared by Asher Keddie (@asherkeddieofficial) on

That love of her little clan made Keddie’s role in The Cry more personal than usual.

The aftermath of the baby’s disappearance places both young mother Joanna (Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman) and Keddie’s Alexandra, the alcoholic ex of Joanna’s manipulative partner Alistair (Top of the Lake’s Ewen Leslie) under suspicion.

The fictional disappearance had a physical and emotional effect on Keddie. She recalls getting the chills and running home to hug her boys during filming, which was divided between Melbourne and Glasgow, Scotland, where the story is partially set.

“I’m quite good at just dropping the work when I come home, but I couldn’t shake this, because who could?” she says.

“It really looks in detail at the myths of motherhood, and the sometimes persecution of a mother in those early days with a newborn, which can be an entirely vulnerable, extremely challenging time for any parent.”

While she says Fantauzzo is a very hands-on father who cooks most nights while she keeps the house in order, and describes the arrival of Valentino in March 2015 as joyous, Keddie nonetheless recalls the crazy pressures of early motherhood.

“There’s a lot of isolation, absolutely, I’m not going to lie about that,” she says.

“That’s an extremely challenging first year, particularly the first six months because you really are in a bubble.

“You’re just trying to be your best, strongest self for this little being, but you’re falling short in all other areas, desperately trying to stay on top of things and be wonderful for everybody else too,” she says.

“But at the same time it’s impossible because you’re so vulnerable, so it’s quite an internal battle.”

Keddie took off most of last year post-Offspring’s second finale in 2017 to plan for future projects from a producing perspective. Now she’s pumped for the year ahead, refreshed by her recent holiday.

“We’d never really had a proper big break like that, and we knew this year was going to be much busier,” Keddie says.

Her production work has ramped up considerably with a yet-to-be-revealed book adaptation. Fantauzzo is focused on the opening of a new Art Series hotel in his name in Brisbane.

While she’s on the phone describing how hard he worked curating the hotel, he’s listening in. “Vincent is laughing at me,” she says.

“He says we both have [worked on it]. That was a lot of really different work, so I insisted that he took me on a lavish holiday. So we did do that and it was lovely, the quintessential summer.”

Keddie will also appear in 2019 in the Aussie remake of Icelandic movie Rams by Last Cab to Darwin director Jeremy Sims, as well as juggling her own projects.

As for arguably her most famous character Nina, Keddie may not be totally done with her yet.

Coincidentally, The Cry director Glendyn Ivin worked on Offspring, and Keddie says she had “a couple of moments” with Ivin “where I thought, ‘Oh, he’s going to think that’s too Nina’.

“Sometimes I can’t help the whacky coming out, and there was definitely no room for whacky on The Cry, so I had to be mindful of that.”

Will we ever see Nina again? “We’re all onto exploring different dramas now, but at the time we finished the seventh series I was so mindful of not shutting it down completely,” she says.

“I felt like it would be unfair of me, just because I played the central role, to make that choice for everybody else. So we just collectively decided that we we’d never say never.”

The Cry premieres February 3 at 8.30pm on ABC-TV, with all four episodes available to binge on ABC iView immediately.

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