‘Everyone is Always Playing a Role’: Q&A with Noni Hazlehurst on A Place to Call Home, Australia, and Acting

If you’ve linked to this page from the story at the Huffington Post, click here to find where the Q&A left off.

Noni Hazlehurst as Elizabeth Bligh in A Place to Call Home. Photo: Acorn TV.
Noni Hazlehurst as Elizabeth Bligh in A Place to Call Home. Photo: Acorn TV.

I’m not keeping track, of course, but I have to tell you, this Q&A is among my favorites so far. After chatting with Noni Hazlehurst for forty-five minutes a couple of months ago (I waited to post this interview until APTCH Season 2 was about to air on my local PBS station), I found myself wondering: how has this outspoken, opinionated, charismatic, compelling, interesting, engaging, fabulous and funny woman stayed off my radar for so long? Especially considering her status in Australia as something of a legend. Nonetheless, fear not, Noni Hazlehurst is here now, and we had a fantastic chat, for which I’m so grateful!

If you haven’t already watched the Australian 1950s post-war drama in which Noni stars, A Place to Come Home (APTCH), the time to start is now. The Wall Street Journal recently included APTCH in its list of “The Best Television of 2015“–a very short list and a well-deserved honor!

To find out more about the story of APTCH and its on-again-off-again, canceled-then-revived history on Australian and now U.S. TV, check out my interview with Marta Dusseldorp, another of the show’s stars (and another fabulous person), who plays Sarah Adams.

APTCH is showing on some PBS stations in the U.S.; if you’re in Seattle, like me, watch the Season 1 marathon on KCTS 9 on Saturday, December 26, starting at 10:30 a.m.; then KCTS will start airing Season 2 on January 7 at 8 p.m.

Now, a warning. There’s always a challenge in doing interviews: I don’t want to do the interview without having done my research; at the same time, I know not all readers will come to the article with all the same information that I had. Noni (pronounced KNOW-knee, if you’re wondering) and I don’t get into too many spoilers below, but we do discuss her character’s state of being and state of mind up to the end of Season 2, which does include allusions to what happened through the series so far. If that’s more spoilers than you like, hasten thee quickly to get caught up before reading on! You can get the DVDs from Amazon (Season 1, Season 2) or stream online at Acorn TV.

Noni and I talked over the phone, which wasn’t without its mishaps. The 8000 miles between Seattle and Sydney created a lag of a few seconds. This led to some awkward overlap, which I’ve tried to clean up.

Noni was an absolute delight to talk to. Now, on to the Q&A!


The cast of A Place to Call Home. Photo: Acorn TV.
The cast of A Place to Call Home. Photo: Acorn TV.


Pam Stucky: How did you come to be a part of A Place to Call Home? How did you get connected with the show?

Noni Hazlehurst: It was a pretty conventional casting process. I did a screen test and was the first one to be cast. I screen tested with a couple of potential Sarahs [Sarah Adams, the other female lead, played by Marta Dusseldorp], and my vote was for Marta, and luckily they agreed and she won that role. I guess the difference was that normally I wouldn’t screen test for a series in Australia because I’ve sort of done enough that people know what I do. But I liked the script so much that I was happy to do it. So, you know, there’s always an exception.

PS: Did they contact you, or had you heard about the script and expressed your interest? How did you find out about it?

NH: I was invited to screen test.

PS: The character you portray, Elizabeth [Bligh], I don’t want to call her a “villain,” really, but she’s complex, obviously. I’m a writer myself, and I always think that when you’re writing a “villain,” you have to think of everyone as the protagonist of their own story. You can’t write someone as an evil person. And I’m imagining that as a performer you have to get your head into your character’s mind as well, so you’re not really playing a villain, either. I’m wondering if you agree with that, and how do you think Elizabeth Bligh sees herself?

NH: I totally agree with that. No one is all one thing. And we are far too judgmental in our lives, of ourselves and others. I get very frustrated when people say, “Elizabeth is such a bitch.” I mean, from Elizabeth’s point of view, she married at seventeen to a man who turned out to be gay, who was also a wealthy landowner in the district, you know, and we’re talking just post-Victorian times. She made a pact with the guy, you know, she honored her marriage, she honored his status, she honored him as a husband, and they had a loving relationship, albeit a very distant one.

But she’s very much a victim of her time, in that … I have English parentage, so I understand that the English are masters at putting up a front. Particularly in those days, you know. They never spoke about anything personal. It was very much several layers of onions to protect whatever person they might have been. In fact, there was very little credence given to any idea of an “inner person.” It was all about how you appeared in the world. And so her whole life has been dedicated to appearing in the world, her small world, albeit a small world, appearing in the world as someone in the upper echelon of that world. Someone who’s an upholder of values and standards, and who is to be seen as a model of behavior. She’s the queen of her own little domain, and so she will do anything to protect that. She’s a very protective lioness of her cubs. In that small environment, it’s become too inward-looking, as in any kind of upper crust aristocratic class, you know, they’re very inward-looking. They don’t let people in easily, if at all.

So, I totally understand why she behaves the way she does, but the interesting thing is that by the end of Season 2, she’s lost her place. You know, her family don’t want her there, the consequences of her actions, albeit with good intentions, have been devastating for her beloved son. And so she’s at a point where she has to completely redefine herself. And I thank the writers that at least they’ve given her the intelligence to understand that she has to change, and not hold fast to this person she thought she was, because that person is irrelevant, in a sense. So it’s quite an interesting journey to play.

PS: You’ve filmed Season 3 already, or you’re in the middle of Season 3?

NH: The third series is currently airing. We start shooting Season 4 in mid-February.

PS: So you clearly know what’s happened between the end of Season 2 and the end of Season 3; you know Elizabeth’s story arc. I’m curious what your own hopes for her are, obviously you already know what happens, but what do you hope for her?

NH: Oh, absolutely. Well, what I would hope for her is that she’s able to embrace the times. You know, it’s a really interesting period in Australia because we were shifting from our traditional view of England being “home,” and because of the advent of television and movies and so on, reaching greater and greater heights coming from Hollywood. Our culture started to turn towards America, and rock ‘n’ roll, and all those things that drove the older generations crazy, and felt that the end of the world was coming. Given her daughter, who’s very avant garde, and given the fact that she has no alternative but to look around her and see, now, what is her place in the world going to be, I hope that she can grow and evolve in a way that’s positive. And I know that she wants to be of service. She’s very much of that kind of environmental upbringing, that you had several roles to play in the community. So she needs to find her place.


Where it all began: Season 1, episode 1. Brett Climo (George Bligh), Marta Dusseldorp (Sarah Adams), and Noni (Elizabeth Bligh). Photo: Acorn TV.
Where it all began: Season 1, episode 1. Brett Climo (George Bligh), Marta Dusseldorp (Sarah Adams), and Noni (Elizabeth Bligh). Photo: Acorn TV.

PS: She’s such a complex character, which I think is fascinating, and you’ve played her with great nuance.

NH: Thank you.

PS: And she clearly has that deep, caring love for Jack, and at the same time the very strong, you know, I’ve read that you were saying the story of A Place to Call Home is about bigotry and intolerance, and she sort of personifies that in some ways. Is that difficult to balance that portrayal?

NH: No. Because I don’t judge … she only had the information that was available to her according to the times and her upbringing, and she’s had a very protected life. You know, we had a “White Australia policy” in the fifties. And our recently deposed, and deservedly so, Prime Minister, has been stalking the world stage talking about “we can’t change Europe by letting in brown people,” effectively is what he’s saying. There are deeply, deeply racist undercurrents in Australia, as in the United States, as in pretty much everywhere in the white western world.

So I understand. And we deliberately try to show how bigoted people were, hopefully as a talking point, that people can say, “Oh, well, we’ve come a long way, baby … or not.” You know, same with the role of women, same with the role of the indigenous people, which is a theme that will emerge later in the series. And obviously the homosexual theme, that’s so strong and has caused a lot of people to go, “Wow, I didn’t realize so recently that it was so bad.” You know, we don’t learn our history anymore. So if you do it through a vicarious medium like television, you have a responsibility to be accurate. So I don’t worry about representing someone like that because I want to be true to who the people were then, to make it interesting.

PS: I always believe that we all think we’re doing the best that we can with what we have, so you have to come from that place.

NH: Hopefully, hopefully that’s what we’re thinking.

If you’re joining this post linked from the Huffington Post article, start here!

(Sorry about that! I hate breaking up posts but it was too long for HP.)

PS: This relates to what you’ve been talking about already, but you said in another interview that Elizabeth Bligh is a metaphor for Australia at the time. Not being from Australia I thought that was a really fascinating statement, and I’m wondering if you can tell me more about what that means?

NH: I was born in 1953, and my parents came out from England as migrants in 1950, because England was so decimated by the war. My parents were very conservative. I remember strongly the secrets that people held, and I remember as a very small child, maybe about eight, thinking, “I wonder if the people who see us at church on a Sunday, what they would think if they saw us on a Saturday?” Because we were very different. You know? We behaved differently. So I started to understand the layers, that everyone is always playing a role. We’re all acting all the time. So then you start looking at what is authentic. So in Australia, you know, it was all about front. It was all about the mask. It was all about keeping people down, keeping them stupid, and it’s only fallen apart now because of technology, really, where things can no longer be kept secret.

My mother had some incredible family secrets that she never told me. I found out from my brother, things about the family, that she was too ashamed to talk about. And they were things that you wouldn’t even, you’d just go, “oh dear, that’s sad,” now. But to my mother, they were the source of unending shame and pain. She didn’t share her pain, just as returning soldiers didn’t share their pain. They didn’t see it as a right, or even an issue. It was just, you know, post-traumatic stress.

The shift in the focus away from outward service to inward service has started since the 50s, particularly in Australia, since we are an island, you know, we see ourselves as being different. We’ve always looked to other civilizations for our lead, particularly the British civilizations. We still are subjects of the Queen, for God’s sake. So that royalty, that love of the mother country, was so strong. And the Queen was seen as the role model of perfect behavior, particularly for a woman, to do nothing, say nothing, and just be a figurehead. So that’s what you could aspire to, if you were a woman. Other than that, you were just going to be a wife. And the men had it all. The men had it all their own way.

It’s a really interesting time to look at how feminism might have stemmed from there. You know, that push to put women back in the home in the 50s, with all the appliances that we were sold, to get us out of the work force, to leave the jobs for the men back from the war. There was huge cultural shift in Australia at that time. And that’s why I think the 50s are so interesting, because the gaps between what happened in the early 50s and what was coming in the 60s are enormous. The shifts, cultural and societal shifts, are incredible.


Noni as Elizabeth Bligh, queen of her small realm. Photo: Acorn TV.
Noni as Elizabeth Bligh, queen of her small realm. Photo: Acorn TV.

PS: You were saying this was fairly recent in Australia. How recent would “recent” be in these shifts of mindset? Do you think there’s still an undercurrent, as you were saying, of a lot of this?

NH: It’s a much wider playing field now. As in America, we have the ultra far-right conservatives in the government, so they’re the ones who want to still cling desperately to that status quo of, “there is no climate change,” “technology and social media are just electronic graffiti,” you know. And “anyone who complains about the environment is an activist.” We still have that kind of, “we’re the ruling class and we know how things should be.” That’s old money. That’s what controls the world, still. But they can’t stop people getting together now. That’s a wonderful thing, that we can have People Power. And in those days, you could not have People Power unless you went out on the streets.

PS: You’ve said that Elizabeth has played a role for so long, she doesn’t know who she is. Do you think she deceives even herself, or is she self-aware? Does she know who she is behind the masks?

NH: Oh, no, I don’t think she has a clue who she is. I don’t think she has a clue. I mean, self analysis was not done in the 50s. I’m constantly pulling those things out of scripts, you know. The underwriters often write things like the character saying things like, “I have an issue,” or “we’re going to deal with this issue.” But you know, they didn’t have issues, and they didn’t deal with issues. You know, you just didn’t. Psychiatry and psychology were only starting to be accepted into even the mainstream thinking in the 60s. So, you know, it was still pretty way out to try an analyze yourself.

PS: If you, Noni Hazlehurst, were to give Elizabeth Bligh advice, what would you tell her?

NH: I’d tell her to travel. I mean, she has traveled, she’s been to England several times, I’d imagine, I know she starts the series coming back from England, Series [Season] 1. Yeah, I’d tell her to broaden her horizons. She’s lived in this tiny little country town, you know, that’s two hours from Sydney, and been Queen of the May, and, yeah, she needs to get out and meet more people. Otherwise she’s going to be very lonely. If there was such a thing as depression in the 50s, then she would be at risk of going down. You know, a lot of people never realize that their behavior has alienated people, they just keep on keeping on, and they do end up very lonely.

PS: She definitely seems to be so alone at the end of Season 2. In some ways, it seems it’s a little like the “empty nest syndrome.”

NH: Completely. Completely the empty nest syndrome. And not only the empty nest syndrome, but also, by all her best intentions, her children aren’t happy, they’re involved in tragedies and disappointments, and it’s all been for nothing, it seems.

PS: Her actions are definitely based on good intentions, and I think that to have everything fall apart, based on your good intentions, would feel, “Well, now what? Now who am I? Where do I go from here?”

NH: It’s very humbling. My children are 27 and 21, and the youngest one only left home recently, and you know, so, yes, how do I redefine myself when I’m not an “active mother” anymore?

PS: Speaking of redefining, in season three, what can we expect of Elizabeth?

NH: What can I tell you? She’s searching, she’s definitely searching, but of course circumstances arise beyond her control, as they do in all our lives, some to do with the family, some not, that mean that she is still partially involved in what’s happening at home. She forges a stronger bond with her daughter, which is well overdue, long overdue. And she tries to widen her horizons, and she does get put into some situations that are not comfortable for her. You do see an evolution of sorts. You certainly see a more humbled version of Elizabeth. She’s, to use an Australian expression, “had the stuffing knocked out of her.”


Brett Climo (George Bligh), Marta Dusseldorp (Sarah Adams), and Noni (Elizabeth Bligh). Photo: Acorn TV.
Brett Climo (George Bligh), Marta Dusseldorp (Sarah Adams), and Noni (Elizabeth Bligh). Photo: Acorn TV.

PS: We get a lot of British shows in the U.S., but we do not get a lot of Australian shows. I’m wondering why you think A Place to Call Home managed to make the leap? What do you think it was about this show that was an international draw?

NH: I think the budget. I think one of the problems with our movies and our television is that we’re such a small country that it’s really difficult to get returns on investment in the local market, particularly commercial free-to-air television, which has dominated the scene until quite recently. They want to spend the money on sport, they want to spend the money on news, but they’re getting a diminishing share of advertising revenue, and so their budgets for drama have never been all that healthy.

I think the fact that we’ve been able to attract a fantastic cinematographer, who stayed with the series and wants to stay with the series, a fantastic art department who have been with us the whole way, an amazing hair and makeup team and wardrobe team, they’re all at the top of their game. And so we’ve been able to achieve the standard that we’ve all been capable of, but so many of our people go overseas and prove that. But finally we have a product that we can be proud of because the money has been put on the screen. We can’t compete if we don’t do that.

PS: This question adds to that one. To quote you back to yourself again, you said in another interview, “You look at a rundown of the (Australian) production slate and invariably it’s apocalyptic, road movie, depressing, coming of age, just as the slate of television is cop, cop, cop, hospital, hospital, hospital.” If you were in charge of Australian film and TV and were deciding what changes to make, what kind of advice would you give to the industry?

NH: Well, I certainly think, as is the push in Hollywood and in England as well and everywhere, for more female representation. I think we should get away from calling anything that deals with women a “chick flick,” would be a good start. I certainly think we need to reflect life more as it is actually experienced by people. I think we still predominantly show a white middle class representation of who we are, which is far from the truth now, as it is in the States. But we have even fewer different races represented on our screens than you do. I just think we need to grow up, you know.

I just feel embarrassed sometimes when I do a comparison of what we have here as local entertainment with the best from overseas. It’s naïve to think that we can appeal with the kind of homesy, folksy sentimental kind of show that’s not much more sophisticated than The Waltons in some instances. The world’s moved on, you know, and I really think we have to move along with it, and either do these historical things that are of interest to people all over the world, but also, try and create some oases. I think one of the reasons our show is successful is because the world is so complex, and we do seem to be hurtling toward hell in a hand basket. I think people are enjoying a reminder of when things were simpler and quieter, and people were more respectful in general. You know, it’s a little oasis. So I think there’s something to be said there.

But certainly, more female representation, less male protagonists, would be a good start.

PS: I completely agree on that. Okay, in an interview [see video, above] about Larry Moss’s Masterclass, you said something that really resonated with me: “Most of the time most of us are disengaged and unconnected, and we have a front up, of our ego… There is harm to be done in masking yourself and not being able to be open.” Which goes back to what we were saying about Elizabeth. Tell me more about that idea, and how you have worked to overcome that, and how do we go about reversing that?

NH: I think it goes back to what I was saying before about we’re all acting all the time. I find acting easy; I find being hard. You talk about mindfulness, being in the moment, being present and all those things; that’s what we’re trying to achieve. I think one of the things that was most salutary for me in my life was hosting a very small children’s program–a program for very small children–called Play School [the second-longest-running children’s show in the world], which I hosted for twenty-four years, while I was doing my adult acting as well. And if you can convince a three-year-old that you’re present on television, with a thirty-two page script which you’ve rehearsed five times, there’s no autocue [teleprompter], that you’re trying to appeal to a pre-school child, if you succeed at that, you will hold their attention for half an hour. If you don’t succeed, if you’re acting that you’re feeling happy or acting that you’re feeling pretty or whatever, a three-year-old child will just switch off. They’re not interested in people who aren’t present. They know how to be. Whereas an adult will sit and watch you because they’ve paid money or because they can’t be bothered getting up.

Little children taught me so much about communication. Doing that show, you use the camera as if it were one child. So you’re not going, “Hi, kids!” You’re actually going, “Hello,” and the child responds. They answer you back as if you’re there with them. So what Larry did for me, Larry changed my life. I started teaching after I did this Masterclass with Larry, and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done as an actor. He removed nerves from me for all time because he said, “The audience doesn’t come to see you. They come to see themselves.” And I just found that so, so profound for me, because all of a sudden, oh my God, it’s not about me! It’s not about people judging me. It’s about me telling a story. And so all I have to do is tell the story faithfully and truthfully, to the best of my ability, and find stories that are worth telling, that I think contribute something.

I get adrenalized, sure, before a performance. I just toured a one-woman play around Victoria and Tasmania, but yeah, I get adrenalized, but I don’t get nervous because all I have to do is tell the story. So that separation of ego, you know, people think actors are full of ego and fragile and all the rest of it. The good actors don’t come from a place of ego. They come from a place of humanity. And they’re not delicate. They have to be very tough, because they have to be vulnerable. You can’t pretend you’re a powerful being in the world, because no one is special. I tell my kids all the time, you’re not special. You’re unique, but you’re not special. Because, well, if you’re special, someone else isn’t, so how does that work?

So from an acting point of view, I have all those attributes that any person in the world has, inside me, somewhere. My job is to bring the to the fore, and say, under what circumstances could I behave like this? And then I create the circumstances that give me the behavior, in my mind, and I can justify the behavior, no matter what it is. You know, if I was asked to be a murderer, if someone was to threaten my kids, I’d murder them. So I can understand the strength of feeling required. We all have those things, but we just choose the certain attributes that we think are the best ones to portray ourselves with in our daily lives or in whatever circumstances require.

PS: Yes, I’ve had those conversations with people who say, “I can’t imagine ever doing these things!” and I say, yes, but what if they threatened your child? And they get it, they always, say, “Oh, well, yes, of course!”

NH: And what if you’d been brought up by people who were amoral, and you would be the product of your upbringing, and your education. Some people never get to realize that if you have a different choice, that you can actually make different choices. Some people never question the way they behave. Or their conditioning.

PS: Going back to something you said today, and which you also said in another interview, that you don’t care what you’re doing so long as it’s a story worth telling. What is a story worth telling? What makes a story worth telling?

NH: Well, I guess my criterion has always been, would I pay money to see this? Would I give this two hours of my attention? If I would, then I’m happy to think about doing it. To me, a story worth telling is something that resonates for me as something that needs to be told, whether it’s a story of the consequences of bad attitudes, or whether it’s something that helps break down stereotypes and myths, particularly about women….

[At this point, the sound on our call went out. We were reconnected and somewhat successfully recalled where we were when the call dropped.]

NH: Yeah. I guess it’s, what is the reason for any artistic endeavor? It’s to express how you feel about something. To try to say to people, “Is this the way you want to be? Do you feel like this? Am I alone here?” Something that resonates with the human heart, I think, is what I’m after, whether it’s in a negative way or a positive way. I think, as a woman, I’ve been told all my life that I’m just too emotional, or I’m feeling too much, and I look around, and I see the results of rationality and logic, and I don’t think there’s all that much to write home about.

So I’m very keen to pursue things that make people feel, and that move them, and perhaps cause them to reevaluate some of the attitudes that are causing pain in their lives. They’re the kind of projects that interest me. I’m not interested in sci-fi, I’m not interested in apocalyptic movies at all. The world is bad enough without going to see 3D versions of these. I want human stories that resonate for me and make me feel like it was something worth experiencing. Something that enriches me.


Noni as Elizabeth Bligh in deep conversation with son George (Brett Climo). Photo: Acorn TV.
Noni as Elizabeth Bligh in deep conversation with son George (Brett Climo). Photo: Acorn TV.


PS: You have a lot of interest in a lot of projects in the future, directing and radio and so on. One thing you said is that “I would love to see more negotiation and tolerance. It would be nice to foster these ideas on radio or television, promoting a kinder, more tolerant society which appreciates the arts, mixing in good news and a celebration of inner beauty.” That’s a big order. How do you think each of us as individuals can better approach kindness and tolerance, especially when faced with ideas that conflict with our own values, and with social media where people get their umbrage up? What are some small steps we can take?

NH: It’s huge, isn’t it? I mean, it’s a source of constant despair to me that people are so unkind, and so lacking in empathy. We have a political party in power here, as I said, that has talked about caring about people as being impossible, it’s “unfunded empathy.” “We can’t afford unfunded empathy.” Which is nonsense. It’s just nonsense. And, you know, these are people who espouse Christian values, which makes it even more repugnant.

I don’t ascribe to what on this end of the world is the conservative philosophy that if you haven’t made it you just haven’t tried hard enough. There are many, many, many, many people who will never make it, and it’s not because they’re stupid or failures or slow. Look, I think kindness and empathy, all you can do is live it. You know? All you can do is give people the benefit of the doubt, and try and correct terrible attitudes when you come across them. I just feel people are not called out on this stuff often enough. And it’s pretty pointless doing it on Twitter and Facebook sometimes because you’re just preaching to the converted, you know, you’re just all agreeing with each other.

I certainly think you need to in a metaphoric sense have a kind of purple cloak of kindness around yourself every time you walk out the door, to protect yourself from other influences that are malevolent. And that’s not paranoiac, that’s just saying the way most of us are living in cities is not the way we’re meant to live. In a survey recently, from the States, I think, they said to people, “How would you prefer to spend the last years of your life? In a high-rise apartment, in a suburban house, or in a rural cottage with a picket fence in the country?” And guess what most people wanted? You know, they wanted a simpler, calmer, more close-to-nature life. That’s our dream. That’s what we long for as human beings. And you cannot live that life if you’re unkind and you lack empathy.

I guess it’s just remaining true to our ideals and trying to stay with like-minded people for our own survival. Ultimately, I’m optimistic that there will be enough of us to overcome these guys.

PS: I hope so. I hope you’re right.

NH: Me too.

PS: Okay, I’m going to let you go soon, but last questions: For your personal self, how do you define success and happiness? I’m very interested in people’s visions of what happiness means.

NH: To me happiness is something that, it’s like a butterfly that kind of flicks past me now and again, and I get to spend some time with it, and it’s fantastic. And the chance for it to be there is there at any moment. It’s not a permanent state that I aspire to, because that’s Utopia, and it doesn’t exist. But it’s something that comes and goes, and it’s appreciated all the more because of that. Success, probably similarly. I’m very excited right now because I have a very small role in Truth, the James Vanderbilt movie that just came out with Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett. My little scene is getting some attention, which is really lovely.

PS: Congratulations!

NH: Thank you, I’m thrilled. You know, I was worried it was going to be cut, because it wasn’t really essential to the movie! I was living in fear of that one. But you know, to me, that’s very exciting, that a scene is singled out in the States as being worthy of attention. So to me, that’s success. I’m really happy about that. But I suppose for me, I think, probably the year that [A Place to Call Home was] canceled, I had about five months out of work, that’s the longest I’ve been out of work since 1973, so I’m very, very fortunate.

You know, also, that I had parents in Vaudeville and I’m a third generation performer, so my parents prepared me. I had to be able to sing and dance, to do accents, to do comedy, you know, they taught me all that stuff when I was a little child. And that the industry didn’t owe me a living. I was very fortunate there. So I feel successful. And although there are a lot of things that really frustrate me about being a female, and about being a 62-year-old female, and about being an actor, and about living surrounded by rednecks sometimes, I still think I’m incredibly fortunate to have my talents developed and recognized and valued by some people. That’s success for me, and that’s enough. But of course, if I got offered something else, I’d be very happy to do it! (laughs)

PS: Well, I’m delighted that this show has come to the U.S., because I didn’t know about you before, and I’m just so pleased to know about you now. Is there anything else that you’d like the world to know about A Place to Call Home, about you specifically, anything else you want to talk about? Anything we haven’t covered?

NH: I think I’m really pleased that this little country is punching above its weight, you know, in so many areas, but particularly in the arts. It’s just wonderful to get feedback from our American fans. It’s delightful to know that what you’re doing resonates, and I think that’s probably true in any kind of artform. If you’re true, if you tell a story as faithfully as you can, it will resonate. If you stay true to your culture and you don’t bring in an American to pretend, to be a person in the cast just to get the production happening, you know, you stay true to who you are, it will resonate. But personally, just getting back to the kindness thing, you know, my aim is to have a “Good News Network.”

PS: I love that.

NH: I would just love to have a network that was devoted to making people feel okay. And bring them the good news. People all over the world are doing amazing things that are just wonderful, and we never get to hear about them. We’re presenting such a skewed view of what human beings are like when what we call “news” is actually just “bad news.”

PS: I could not agree more.

NH: I think there’s a reason why so many people, particularly young people, are suffering from increased anxiety and depression and suicide, because they feel utterly overwhelmed by all the bad news.

PS: And it’s thrust at you constantly. It’s not just that there’s bad news, but that you see it all day long on social media.

NH: It’s ubiquitous, yeah.

And with that question answered, I checked with Noni about Twitter and Facebook and where else to find her, and the fabulous conversation was over. Noni Hazlehurst, where have you been all my life? I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of her in the future.

You can find Noni on Twitter (she does not post a lot).

As for Facebook, Noni mentioned the A Place to Call Home North America Fans page, run by Susan Cohen. The show also has an Official APTCH page.


Noni in A Place to Call Home. Photo: Acorn TV.
Noni in A Place to Call Home. Photo: Acorn TV.

Also published at my Huffington Post blog.

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One Comment

  1. I looked up noni and was delighted to find this interview. I think Elizabeth is great in pch. I haven’t seen the story from the first but now that I found it on Acorn I will. I like the Australian shows I have seen on TV. Noni should come to USA to meet her fans. I thank her for her work and for her life!