Susie Porter has a pretty enviable CV with such shows as RAN: Remote Area Nurse, My Place, Love My Way, The Jesters, East of Everything, Silent Witness, Wildside, Sisters of War and East West 101.
If nothing else, she sure has an eye for quality.
But on the eve of the third and final season of East West 101, she shares some candid thoughts with TV Tonight.
“I’m just always surprised that people would ever know me, because I kind of always feel that everything I do no-one really watches anyway,” she says.
“None of my movies have made massive money at the box office. If they had I reckon I might be elsewhere –or be on a higher wage, because that’s all it really is. It’s just your bankability in terms of numbers.”
Indeed, financial security still eludes her and while she acknowledges a good script is paramount, there is frustration in her voice.
“I’d like to make a shitload of money!” she laughs.
“I’d love to make some money and be in a TV show where there isn’t ‘Oh no we have to buy your costume from Lowe’s because we couldn’t afford (something better)’. I want to be in a production where money is not the issue.
“And it’s not something where they have to shoot 28 episodes in 2 weeks just because we Aussies can dig down and get it done. I don’t want to do that anymore.”
Porter, who has both AFI and Logie Awards to her credit, likes what she sees coming out of US cable productions.
“Film stars are doing TV because it’s more accessible, people watch it, and the writing is very good,” she says.
“Imagine being in a Mad Men, how fabulous would that be? And I really want to catch up with Boardwalk Empire. It looks amazing.
“The great thing would be to have a brilliant American director say, ‘Would you like to come and do this thing?’ I would probably say ‘Yes.'”
Porter insists money isn’t the driving force in her work choices, but admits she is tired of money being a dirty word.
“I wouldn’t be happy just to do rubbish and be on the front of every magazine. That’s probably not where I would want to go,” she says.
“I suppose I am in a pretty privileged position which I’m very grateful for. There are certain things that if they are ‘scriptually bad’ I just wouldn’t put my name to.
“But you can sign up and do a job and it turns out to be rubbish, which is beyond your control as well.
“The script is the big thing, and what kind of character it is.”
She hasn’t ruled out the possibility of turning her hand to producing, but the time required to explore other ventures is only possible when a big-paying job affords actors the time to decline short-term work.
“I’d be interested in that but I also want to be an actor, not solely producing things. Claudia Karvan’s been really smart, so I respect her and the fact that she’s got an idea, gone to a producer and said ‘Let’s get some writers together and create,'” she says.
“If you get a big money job you can do those other things.”
In August she will appear in a Belvoir Street Theatre production of The Summer of the 17th Doll. This week she premieres on screen as Pat Wright in SBS’ acclaimed crime drama East West 101. She is full of praise for the series.
“The writing is really good and the actors are great. (Director) Peter Andrikidis, you trust him,” she says.
“A lot of actors wanted to be part of it. So we’re all really proud of it. It won awards in New York and it’s up for awards in Monte Carlo. It’s pretty cool.”
Joining her again are Don Hany, Aaron Fa’aoso, Daniela Farinacci, Renee Lim plus Matt Nable, Tammy McIntosh and Aaron Jeffery.
What interested Porter most about the role was to play a character with status, which contrasts to many roles of vulnerability.
“It’s what it’s like for a female in a position of power, what it costs her and what she’s not willing to say to get there,” she says.
“My job is to embody that person and give my all to it. Blood, sweat and tears.”
East West 101 returns 8:30pm Wednesday on SBS ONE.
Disclaimer: David Knox blogs Eurovision for SBS.