Noni Hazelhurst is one of Australia’s most renowned actresses, but one of the biggest regrets of her long career is that she’s never had a chance to work this side of the Tasman.
The 60-year-old Australian has been a fixture on Kiwi screens for nearly 40 years, appearing in City Homicide and the lifestyle show Better Homes and Gardens, and films such as Little Fish and Candy.
This week, she’s back on the box in the new TV One period drama A Place to Call Home, but the Melbourne-born actress says she is tempted to call New Zealand home, after the Australian election.
“I’ve worked with quite a few New Zealand actors over the years, and now there’s a change of government here, I may well be moving over,” she jokes.
“I’ve been to New Zealand, and it’s the most beautiful place. I’ve sailed around the North Island and skied in Queenstown and it’s glorious.”
Noni plays scheming matriarch Elizabeth Bligh in the new drama – but in real life, the actress is quite happy her sons are no longer tied to her apron strings. Best known for her 33-year gig on Play School, the actress says she’s not naturally maternal, and hates being known as Australia’s “Mother of the Nation”.
“What a horrible thought,” jokes Noni. “I’ve got two boys, they’re 25 and 19. They’ve pretty much launched into the world now – and it’s bliss! You have to cut the umbilical cord psychologically,” she says.
Deemed by critics as “Down Under Abbey”, A Place to Call Home, centres around a wealthy family in a small town.
Noni’s character causes trouble for newcomer Sarah (Marta Dusseldorp), who stumbles upon a family secret that could cause controversy.
Noni also claims that she based the character on her own agoraphobic mother, who was “ruled by fear”.
A Place To Call Home is on TV One, Sunday, 9pm