9 Jul 2018

Westside's Antonia Prebble

From Afternoons, 1:38 pm on 9 July 2018

Antonia Prebble of Outrageous Fortune says she's loving being back in New Zealand for a longer stint and doing some writing again, as season four of prequel Westside starts airing. 

Prebble plays the West family matriarch, Rita, and tells Afternoons' Jesse Mulligan the show has grown over time. 

Antonia Prebble as Rita West in Westside

Antonia Prebble as Rita West in Westside Photo: http://westsidetv.co.nz

"It's great when we do give shows a chance to really bed in and find out what they are," she says. 

"Outrageous really only hit its straps in terms of ratings and popularity from about season three, and that was about the same with Westside.

The same is true of her character. 

"When we started the first season I really had no idea who she was, and in the first couple of episodes it was a real challenge ... mainly because in Outrageous Fortune she was talked about in a very specific way but predominantly by Cheryl.

"So I had a clear idea of who Rita was based on how she was talked about, then when we started rehearsing Westside the writers said to me 'OK so, everything you think you know about Rita, just forget about that'.

They'd realised in the writing of Westside that actually Rita wasn't how Cheryl described her, she just didn't like her.

"I feel like the first season was trying to find who she was, the second season was pushing that in a few different directions, the third season was feeling slightly more comfortable, and the fourth season I felt a lot more comfortable, so it was a relief and a joy to get to that point.

Before starting on season four, she worked on a show called Sisters in Australia which was largely staffed by women - producer, directors, actors.

"It was a very different environment on set as a result. Not even better than normally but just different and it was really nice to recognise that difference.

She says there are not enough jobs in New Zealand to keep screen actors in work full time.

"The reality is that you just can't really sustain 12 months of work in a year in New Zealand, there just aren't enough roles for that.

"We don't make enough content to be able to just keep being in everything.

She had also been looking further afield, going to the US during the pilots season.

"I tend to kind of look at Australia and New Zealand as kind of the same entity and then America is the next big step if I wanted to broaden my horizons.

"I'm not sure if I'll go next year or not, I don't feel quite as hungry for it over there, and I think now that I have had that experience that actually in itself is really valuable.

"More than ever I'm really appreciating being in New Zealand - I've now been in New Zealand from October until now and it's the longest I've been in one place for five years.

She's also enjoyed the opportunity to write more as well as acting. 

"I used to do it a lot when I was younger and all through my teens I did a lot, and then when I started actually thinking about what I wanted to do for a job I completely stopped it,

"But since we finished Westside I have been developing a couple of new TV show ideas with some people.