The Aussie Queen of comedy and star of Kath and Kim talks about her latest film, losing weight and what it’s like to fire a shotgun
You star in Aboriginal musical comedy Bran Nue Dae. Was there a feeling that Australia needs a film like this?
Well, I think the thing is, it’s a great showcase for Aboriginal humour. And what is probably under appreciated is the degree to which Aboriginal humour has affected Australian Caucasian humour.
It’s a very empowering film – it acknowledges the suffering the Aboriginal people have had to endure, but it doesn’t come from a victim place.
I think it’s like the Aboriginal version of The Producers, which was like a Jewish comedic response to the Holocaust.
You play Roadhouse Betty in the film, and you get to shoot this enormous gun. What was it?
It was a .303. It was bloody huge and deafening, let me tell you!
Did you have shooting lessons?
I had my own rifle when I was a kid – a .22. I used to go hunting with my father so I know my way around a gun, but I can’t say I’ve shot a gun in years – not in anger anyway.
How old were you when you discovered you were funny?
When I was a teenager, and I always had a knack for mimicry – I think that’s part of having had an English accent until the age of five [she was born in Liverpool]. When you relocate you have to learn a new accent and that trains your ear … I can remember being given a hard time, not by the kids, but one of the bloody teachers – Mrs Elms, thank you very much!
How much fun was it to play Sharon Strzelecki in Kath & Kim?
Oh, I love Sharon, she’s so indomitable. I first came up with the idea of Sharon because I was playing baseball at the time, and just that whole ethos of team sport with the captain and coaches – this whole volunteer spirit of people who get paid nothing … And people say to me, ‘how is Sharon going to go now that you’ve lost weight?’ and for me Sharon was never about the weight, Sharon was always about the netball!
You’ve done some great characters over the years. Who is your favourite?
Sharon is right up there but I also love: “I said ‘Love,’ I said, ‘Pet’, please, please, please … I will go you with a knife’,” Lyn Postlethwaite, a sketch I did with Jane Turner. She was just mean as mean could be and would sit there with a cigarette, with all of the ash dropping off it. I always get gay boys at nightclubs coming up and quoting it verbatim. It’s a camp classic in the vein of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
Do you think your weight loss will affect your approach to performance?
Dunno, we’ll have to see. There might be some slight nuances. [On Kath & Kim] my weight went up and down like crazy in that series … But I don’t think funniness is stored in your fat cells.
Are you a gym bunny or a jogger?
I go to the gym, I love going for walks, swimming, badminton, ping pong – yeah, I’m loving the pong!
WORDS: ALISON GRINTER
» Bran Nue Dae at the London Australian Film Festival at the Barbican, Silk St, EC2Y 8DS (020 7638 8891) on Mar 25 at 8.45pm. See tntmagazine.com/events for a special reader offer