You may know Noni Hazlehurst as one of our countries much-loved stage and TV actresses. But the Australian treasure has taken on a new challenge by lending her voice to the fictional podcast Winding Road.
Hazlehurst, 67, who has been a fierce advocate for the arts and entertainment industry’s survival, admitted that COVID-19 left fewer opportunities on the table.
“It was my first paid job offer since March,” Hazlehurst tells 9Honey Celebrity in an interview.
Despite the offers being few and far between for entertainers in Australia, Hazlehurst was thrilled to be involved in the compelling murder mystery series that follows the disappearance of musician William Hamilton.
“I just want to tell good stories,” she says. And so she did.
Hazlehurst plays William’s half-sister Rachel, alongside a star-studded cast that includes Dacre Montgomery, Yael Stone, David Berry, Anna McGahan and Bernard Fanning.
The podcast was a different creative direction for Hazlehurst who is best known for her role as Elizabeth Bligh in the 1950s-set Australian melodrama A Place to Call Home.
But it was her career-making part as a Play School presenter between 1978 to 2001 that officially put Hazelhurst on the map.
She still considers her time on the children’s program as one of the proudest moments in her career.
“I’m very, very, very proud of because it really taught me how to communicate,” she recalls. “If you can keep the interest of a three or four-year-old child for half an hour and get them to interact with the screen, adults are a breeze after that. Because little children demand that you’re present. That you’re in the moment. That you’re not acting. I have a theory that acting is quite easy, it’s being that’s hard. Either on stage or on film.
“It’s actually being fresh and alive at that moment. That’s the hard thing.”
Before COVID-19 reared its ugly head, Hazlehurst was about to take her one-woman play Mother to Broadway.
“It was written for me by Daniel Keene, a wonderful Australian writer, which I’ve been doing on and off for about the last four or five years in various places throughout the country,” she says. “And I’m hoping to take it to Broadway. There’s a producer over there that wants it and we’re just waiting for everything to open up. I’m not holding my breath about America, but we’ll see.”
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Aside from the obvious setbacks the arts industry has suffered, Hazlehurst has been reminded of what’s important in life.
“You have to be real. You’re not putting on the uniform of the office and going into the office and playing a role,” she says. “You’re sitting there in your tracky dacks and your slippers or whatever, and you just have to say, ‘Oh sorry, that was the dog.’ It shows us in a much more real light. So I think I felt that, even though I knew that before, but I think it’s become more obvious to more people that they’re OK just as they are.
“You’re enough. It’s a lesson that everybody needs to have. And I think that this has brought us back to what really we are. It’s made us redefine ourselves. I think that’s always a useful thing. We realised that we’re on the treadmills and that we don’t necessarily have to be on that treadmill.”
The Aussie TV veteran hopes that as the world recovers from the economic suffering, Australians continue to support the arts.
“The basic premise of the arts is that they connect people,” she says. “You realise that you’re not alone. As human beings, we share more similarities than differences. That’s what the arts are for.”
Winding Road is currently available on Audible.
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