The icing on the cake appeared when her aspiring actress daughter was also offered the chance to make her screen debut.
“It was really lovely having everyone on set and we had an absolute blast,” Otto says.
The rollicking crime caper stars Otto as Sara, a mum in Sydney’s eastern suburbs who appears to have the picture-perfect Instagram life, but it’s all falling apart behind the scenes. When she discovers that one of her neighbours has a $16 million diamond necklace, stealing it appears to solve all of her problems. But can Sara trust those who help her pull off the heist, or will it just add to her list of growing woes?
What attracted you to the role?
I read the script in Sydney while we were in lockdown and there was so much to love about it. The whole project seemed so fresh and fun at a time when life felt pretty dismal. It’s a female-driven series and I loved all the female characters and how they related to one another. It’s also very diverse and gives a wonderful window into Filipino culture here in Australia.
Do you think it’s important that we tell more diverse stories in Australia?
Absolutely! This country has a wealth of different cultures and amazing people who’ve come from all over the world to live here, and it’s fascinating to show these worlds on the screen. I really believe that if we want people to watch the TV shows and movies we’re making, then they need to reflect the people that live here and shouldn’t just be some kind of outdated version of a white Australia.
Do you think women will relate to Sara?
She’s sort of rare in that she’s a wealthy eastern suburbs princess who was handed an inheritance. But she’s juggling a lot of balls and showing off a highly curated life that isn’t real. I think we can all relate to trying to keep up appearances and juggling too many things while feeling unsuccessful at it.
You’ve been living with your family in the US for several years. How are you finding being back in Oz again?
We’re living near the beach, which is a real treat for us, as we’re nowhere near the water in LA. We used to fly back for a visit once or twice a year, so it’s been really nice to have extended time with our family and friends.
Is this looking like it might be a permanent move Down Under for you?
We came back in March last year when the pandemic hit, so we still have a house and our pets – who are being well looked after – in the States. It’s hard to make long-term plans right now as we don’t really know what will happen, but we’re grateful to be here. The situation with COVID-19 is just so much better in Oz than the rest of the world.
You’ve played some big roles in popular shows like the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and films including The Lord of the Rings trilogy. What attracts you to a character?
I’m attracted to complicated characters and to playing roles that are very different from the last one I portrayed. So coming out of a dark, highly stylised gothic series like Sabrina, it was perfect to take on a really fun and sunny project like The Unusual Suspects.
What is coming up next for you?
I’ve started filming a new series for the ABC in Melbourne called Fires [based on the horrific Black Summer 2019-20 bushfire season], which is due to be released later this year.
(The Unusual Suspects premiers Thu., Jun. 3, 8.30pm on SBS; and streaming on SBS on Demand)
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