Asher Keddie with Kat Stewart from the tv show Offspring Source: The Sunday Telegraph
Debbie Schipp, The Sunday Telegraph, reports
Less than 24 hours after being nominated for a slew of Logie Awards this year, actor Asher Keddie is perched among cast and crew in a makeshift lunch area on location in Melbourne.
Clad in off-duty attire of faded slim jeans, low boots and T-shirt, Asher Keddie is casual and calm, ready to resume her role of neurotic Nina Proudman on hit drama Offspring for the day.
She modestly accepts congratulations for three personal Logie nominations - Gold and Silver for the most popular personality and actress categories, and another for most outstanding actress - voted by her industry peers.
Offspring's nomination for both most popular and most outstanding drama, and castmate Eddie Perfect's nomination for most popular actor, are the icing on the cake.
She wears not a trace of make-up, and shows not a trace of the "bolshie-ness" she confesses surfaces occasionally when she's working.
If she's cheering her nominations recognising a body of work that last year saw Offspring ratings soar and Keddie critically acclaimed for her portrayal of media maven Ita Buttrose in Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, it's happening largely on the inside.
"We are all so excited that we are popular and outstanding," she says with a satisfied chuckle.
Keddie may be striving for unruffled, but not so those around her.
Offspring set-up director Kate Dennis blazes in, sees Keddie and launches:
"We did it. Four nominations - four!" Dennis whoops, folding Keddie into a hug.
Keddie gives a low, burbling laugh.
"That's enough Logies talk from you," she says. But the intrusion has liberated Keddie.
"I used to think it was the industry peer-voted stuff that was most important, but having won most popular actress last year (the Silver Logie, she was also nominated for gold in 2011), I think I've changed my mind.
"I was thrilled to accept that. It was a great show of faith from our audience to embrace a show that is not always easy to digest.
"I assume that's why I was celebrated then, so I'm quite keen on the popular awards now."
This year, Logies voters have even more of Keddie to celebrate - her turn as Buttrose in Paper Giants won her a legion of new fans.
She's honoured to be in the company of this year's fellow Gold nominees - reigning Gold Logie holder and Today co-host Karl Stefanovic, funnymen Hamish Blake and Adam Hills, The Project's Carrie Bickmore and former Home and Away actor Jodi Gordon.
"I've never been quite sure what the Gold Logie means - and I'm not being facetious about that," Keddie says. "I hope it means people have been enjoying my work in the projects that I have been committed to in the past two years.
"I love Hamish Blake, I love Adam Hills - all the nominees have extraordinary talent to offer. And if I'm in that mix, I feel pretty special."
At 37, Keddie is one of Australia's most lauded and recognisable actors.
With a third season of Offspring hitting our screens on April 18, just days after the Logies ceremony, audiences will welcome her back as Nina Proudman. But it's Keddie's chameleon quality to absorb herself in any role that has earned her the accolades.
When she adopted the lisp, mannerisms and walk of Buttrose for Paper Giants, she stunned even Buttrose, who recalls hearing Keddie's Ita speak and thinking, "gosh, I know that voice".
Keddie's magic was spotted early by powerful producer John Edwards, who cast her in her "breakthrough" role of neurotic new mum Julia in Love My Way. The pair's projects have included The Secret Life of Us, Offspring and Paper Giants.
Edwards describes her as "thorough, meticulous" and "the hardest-working actor, in terms of preparation, that I've ever worked with".
Off camera, Keddie is intensely private. She cherishes her weekend and between-shoot escapes to the property she shares with musician and actor husband Jay Bowen and her horses in country Victoria. It gives her the mind space she needs.
"There's no balance when we're shooting. I dive in, tear it apart. Then I can go and re-find myself," she says.
"As soon as I get home I'm straight out to the horses. They don't allow you to think about anything else, because they pick it up and react to it."
That sometimes means consciously leaving her characters at the paddock gate. "If I take Nina to the paddock, she has to keep her neuroses in check. She's anxious and that works against any relationship with a horse," she says. "I took Ita to the paddock, though. She was fine."
Keddie is "mildly nervous" about topping her big 2011.
"I want to keep disappearing into other characters," she says.
"I don't want to make too much of a fuss about everything at the moment because it's so important I be able to have a choice about what kind of roles I take on in the future. That means being able to disappear."
Keddie warns Offspring fans "don't get too excited and comfortable with Nina" early in the upcoming third season. "She's shifted, she's digging her heels in to try and grow up and evolve in a relationship that she very much wants, but challenges her to breaking point," she says.
With Offspring wrapped, and the Logies a week away, Keddie is ready for a break.
There are roles in the offing, but first she wants "to see some Europe and see some New York and swim, sleep, eat and read on a beach.
"I'm craving a little more life experience, and to get out of my bubble," she says.
A gap year for Nina of sorts?
"A gap couple of months. I just want to go and live a bit," she says.
"I tend to get consumed by roles. But I don't know how to do it any other way."
Channel Nine will screen the 54th Annual TV Week Logies on April 15 at 7.30pm. Offspring airs on Channel Ten on April 18 at 8.30pm