Actress Kat Stewart’s star is rising in no small way thanks to TV comedy Offspring, which follows the lives of a Melbourne family. We meet her ahead of its fifth season.
There was a jittery period in July-August 2013 when it seemed like an essential feature of the Melbourne landscape would be disappearing forever. The producers of the addictive, award-winning Australian comedy drama Offspring about a 30-something obstetrician and her chaotic family life, were warning in no uncertain terms that someone very close to main character Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie) was about to die.
Would it be younger brother and taco entrepreneur Jimmy (Richard Davies)? Nina’s boyfriend and the father of her baby, Patrick (Matthew Le Nevez)? Not – gasp – Nina’s awkward, giddy, blunt, utterly endearing older sister Billie, played to screwball perfection by Kat Stewart? No spoilers here.
But, we can reveal that Stewart’s character survives to play a big part in Offspring’s fifth season, launching this month. ‘We pick up six months later, which is good given that Billie was such a mess at the end of season four,’ says Stewart. ‘She had ruined the business and her marriage. So now she’s living with Nina, co-parenting a baby girl, so she has more purpose and is in a better place. Her career is hotting up, and she wants to win her ex Mick [Eddie Perfect] back, so she is focused.’
Much of the charm of Offspring is down to the chemistry between the two sisters: one blonde, successful and an over-thinker; the other brunette, bumbling and prone to speaking her mind. (‘Have her killed,’ Billie advises her sister against a romantic rival in series four: ‘Break her legs’.)
‘We knew we wanted to have a character who was a blurter, not the most tactful person in the world,’ says co-producer and co-creator Imogen Banks. ‘Kat is able to do that in a way you can identify with. She’s able to get inside difficult people and somehow make the character very likeable. ‘She’s one of those actors that gets better and better with every role,’ Banks says. ‘I don’t think we’ve seen nearly half of her capabilities.’
Certainly there’s few TV shows that seek to capture the mood of a city as Offspring does Melbourne, a town Stewart says she’s ‘totally besotted with’.
‘I’ve lived in Melbourne since I was 14. Growing up in the country we would come up on the weekend and it would be so exciting. We’d go to Victoria Market. My brothers were at boarding school here so we would see them and go for pizza. And we’d go to the movies – I remember seeing Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I’m keen to work all over the place, but Melbourne is home.’ Season four, Dhs11 per episode, is available at itunes.apple.com.