Tell us about Cloudstreet. What’s special about it?
“I’m in it! It’s an Australian mini-series based on a book by Tim Winton, about two families united by tragedy – I play the matriarch of one of the families, Oriel Lamb, who’s a strong, capable woman. It’s about normal people and how we interact and survive together and try to make something of our lives. It doesn’t matter what we’ve got or been given, if we suffer tragedy we find the best way we can to deal with that. A lot of it is painful, but I think people will take great joy from it too, and be uplifted by it.”
What was it like working with the children?
“Oh, the little one who plays my youngest! They called him ‘Rowdy’ because he never said a word. In Australia, everybody has to have a nickname. Mine was ‘Scary Fox.’”
It sounds very different from Midsomer Murders…
“Yes, but I wanted to do Midsomer because the script is nuts, completely hysterical. I knew I’d go to work and have fun. I play Betty, who’s married into an aristocratic family where the estate is crumbling and in disrepair and losing money. She comes in as able and hard-working and is turning it around, but then the murders start happening. It wasn’t written for a New Zealander, but that’s where I’m from so the director wanted me to play it as a New Zealander.”
What’s left to do in your career?
“The lucky thing for me is that new things come up all the time. I think I’m a better actor now than I was, though I saw Shallow Grave recently and I was amazed by how good it was! I was worried it would date, but it hasn’t. The script was so sparse and tight and me and Chris [Eccleston] and Ewan [McGregor] were having such a good time. We were really good together.”
Now you’re in your 40s, are there still good roles out there for you?
‘I’m not having a problem getting roles at the moment, but my choices are defined by my main job as a mother, that’s job number one! All my career choices are based upon whether I can fit it in with my kids. I’m based in the UK and I took the kids to Australia to film Cloudstreet, but they’re 10 and six now and it’s going to get harder to do.”
And you’re going to be in a film next year, Mister Pip?
“Yes, I play Hugh Laurie’s ex-wife. But I don’t get any scenes with him; he’s dead by the time I’m on!”
*Cloudstreet starts on Saturday, January 7 on Sky Atlantic. Kerry’s Midsomer Murders episode is on Wednesday, January 18 on ITV1.