The award-winning actor has been juggling many hats of late, including starring in the SBS drama The Hunting, working on the Cate Blanchett-led ABC drama Stateless, collating the artwork for her husband Vincent Fantauzzo’s namesake hotel, being named official Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) and Georg Jensen campaign ambassador and, of course, being a mother.
“I feel in a really positive place, but I’m not saying I’ve got it all worked out,” says Keddie carefully, making sure she doesn’t come across as glib. “I don’t think I ever will, but I do feel very positive—and quite overwhelmed in a good way—about where things are headed professionally for me, and that’s to do with choices that weren’t always easy to make in the past couple of years, but that I’m really glad I did.”
“Look, this is going to sound absolutely like a ridiculous movie scene but there’s no point in playing it down. It was one of those very special moments in life where we walked towards each other and both felt exactly the same thing, and that was, ‘Oh right, I’m going to be with this person [forever],’ before any words were even spoken,”
Keddie, who shares son Valentino, four, and stepson Luca, nine, with acclaimed artist Fantauzzo, says those difficult choices have given her the freedom to explore creative roles she might not have chosen in the past. “I have the confidence to do it now, which definitely comes from becoming a mother, and I also feel like I’m in a position where I’m in a partnership with Vincent and we’ve worked really hard to get to a place where we’re partnering in a really positive way. We’re allowing each other the freedom to explore creative projects.”
Keddie recalls a time when it wasn’t always this way. “Sometimes in the past when stress has hit me, or I’ve been confronted by difficult choices, I perhaps haven’t had the courage to deal with things as well as I do now, and I do think that has a lot to do with a really supportive partnership.”
It’s a five-year marriage the genetically blessed couple clearly prioritises, to ensure it continues to work efficiently—a necessity, taking into consideration that Fantauzzo is highly dyslexic. “We juggle really well now and know what each other’s strengths are, what our weaknesses are, and what we both struggle with, and we don’t feel threatened by that anymore.”
The couple consciously chooses to focus on what comes naturally to both of them, and for Keddie that’s being organised. She willingly ensures everything happens on time and in the right location for the family every day. “That’s just something he [Fantauzzo] simply cannot grasp. So I do all that and he does plenty of other stuff, like being incredibly hands-on with the children— he’s an amazing father—and has all the time in the world for them. He cooks us beautiful food every night—he’s very Italian in that way.”
Still to this day the couple fondly recall their first haphazard meeting one morning in 2012 at Fantauzzo’s Melbourne art studio, when he was late and Keddie was about to leave but didn’t. Fate stepped in and when their eyes locked there was an instant connection neither was prepared for. “I saw this incredibly gorgeous but chaotic man come outside the building looking all around him frantically—I hadn’t ever met him before but I recognised him from photos—and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s him!’” Keddie takes a moment and knows what she is about to state is out of the ordinary but nonetheless fact. “Look, this is going to sound absolutely like a ridiculous movie scene but there’s no point in playing it down. It was one of those very special moments in life where we walked towards each other and both felt exactly the same thing, and that was, ‘Oh right, I’m going to be with this person [forever],’ before any words were even spoken,” she explains.
Not knowing what that meant at the time has slowly revealed itself to be “knowing without a doubt” that they were meant to be together and raising their boys. The complexities of motherhood are top of mind for Keddie, given the subject matter of The Hunting, which centres on a group of teenagers who get mixed up in sending explicit photos that fall into the wrong hands. “We are incredibly conscious—and to an extent concerned too— about the way we are raising [our boys] right now, as opposed to waiting until their teen years when they are going to navigate this kind of territory,” she says.
Keddie stars alongside fellow Australian actor and parent Richard Roxburgh in the four-part miniseries, which addresses strong themes of misogyny, privacy, exploration, exploitation and toxic masculinity, and alludes to feeling the weight of responsibility in bringing
up boys with “strength of character”. “I think it [the series] explores really important themes for us as parents at the moment and also for teenagers to be able to relate to as well,” says Keddie. “It’s a fantastic show in that sense, as it covers such a large demographic.”
"I guess that’s why I’m an actress—I’m curious about human behaviour"
Learning on the job, the actor admits she finds the content “quite frightening”. “It was one of the reasons I chose this role, because I am pretty consumed by my role as a parent and the choices that I’m making [now] to help my boys develop into thoughtful, confident, respectful gentlemen. It was very appealing to me on that level, because my character receives a really brutal wake-up call about the son that she’s been raising—or not had much of a hand in raising—when an inciting event happens in their lives as a result of his behaviour.”
Another drawcard to sign-on was that the role presented a character who she was yet to play on screen. “I found the material very interesting and very, very current for me, and I wanted to explore the reasons why a mother, in particular, doesn’t feel she has the voice to shape her son’s life,” she explains.
Recalling an idyllic childhood with younger sister Bronte, the awkward teenage years presented Keddie with some common but also personal challenges. “I was very outgoing as a young child and then I became quite self-conscious around the age of 13—although around my friends and family I was quite the extrovert! I think socially I didn’t know a lot. I look back now and think my confidence and self-esteem were probably quite low. I don’t know why that was, whether it was purely teenage years or whether there was a deeper reason there.” Surprisingly, Keddie divulges that she didn’t grow in confidence until age 30. “So it took a while,” she laughs. “I was a late developer in that way.”
Now, as a role model to many, keeping things honest and real does matter. “I don’t like inauthenticity. It’s always made me feel uncomfortable if someone is being disingenuous or presenting themselves in a way they’re not. Even as a little girl I found that uncomfortable but [it made me] curious and I guess that’s why I’m an actress—I’m curious about human behaviour.”
With more than 45,500 followers on Instagram, but admitting she was “pretty late to the party”, Keddie loves being able to reveal just enough of herself to satisfy curiosity. “I know I might be quite a private person [but] I think I’ve probably loosened up a bit since I became a mother, because there are different things that are more important now. I have many foibles—like everybody—but I don’t feel the need to talk about a lot of them and talk openly about my personal life all of the time, although I’ve been fairly loose today, I think! I’m not normally!”
For now, the social media platform works in her favour, providing the opportunity to raise awareness for causes close to her heart, such as being named campaign ambassador for the Georg Jensen collaboration with the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) on the “exquisite” Mercy Heart pendant. “I wasn’t aware of just how frightening not only the statistics are with this cancer but the fact that there is no early screening test,” says Keddie. “What keeps coming back to me is that one women dies every eight hours. It’s so vital that there’s an early detection test.”
Surmising this high achiever doesn’t cut corners or look for the easy route, I ask about the recent opening of her husband’s eponymous $100 million Brisbane boutique hotel as part of the Art Series Hotels (taking design inspiration from each contemporary namesake artist), which formed a striking backdrop for our InStyle fashion shoot. “I felt so proud of Vincent and what he had achieved [as an artist],” she says. “It was kind of by default that we curated the hotel together [Keddie assumed the title of creative director] but it became obviously necessary when we had to compile a document of his life’s work. Of course, he hadn’t documented anything in 25 years and didn’t know where any painting was around the world, what size it was, what it was called or who he had sold it to. So the only person this could have fallen onto was me, and we did that for hours and hours, months and months on end at home around the kitchen table.”
As well as learning to navigate her way around a spreadsheet, she held tight to her original vision of wanting the hotel to feel like an art gallery, to show-off her husband’s unique photorealistic style of painting, as well as a series of 100 photographs from the gifted artist. “I think [Vincent and I] found 210 [of his] artworks around the world and we repeated very few of them throughout the hotel; so almost every space in the hotel—including 166 rooms—is unique,” she explains. “I could have made it so much easier for us, and of course I didn’t, but it was worth it. But, you know, we don’t do things by halves.”
The Hunting screens on SBS from August 1 at 8.30pm. For more stories like this, pick up the August issue of InStyle Australia, available July 18th.