Kat Stewart knows a thing or two about working with an ensemble cast, but when it comes to her Five Bedrooms cohort, there’s just something very “special”.
Now in its fourth season (which premiered on Sunday, May 14 on Paramount+), the other four core players have also returned once again and for Stewart, who plays former lawyer Liz, having such a close-knit cast involves “a lot of luck”.
“I think there’s some some things you can’t predict,” Stewart said in an interview with Mediaweek after the launch of the first three episodes. “I think there’s a bit of luck involved, but I think the fact that it’s an ensemble — and even though some of us might have started off being better known than the others — it was always a level playing field ensemble. Very egalitarian.”
According to the Offspring star, “there’s no pecking order” when it comes to how the cast — which includes Stephen Peacocke, Doris Younane, Katie Robertson and Roy Joseph — all interact.
“We’re all equals,” she said. “I think that set us up and we celebrate each other and we back each other up…They are just decent people, good people and we just get along.”
At its core, the show is a fine example of a show that celebrates the fact that “different people can sort stuff out”.
“It’s just a really great positive show that, for all the foibles and the drama and the conflict that inevitably happen… it’s an inclusive show that’s about getting along despite obstacles and so that spirit is very much embedded in the series and we’re just really happy making it.”
The guest cast is an “embarrassment of riches”
While the main five — and now the addition of sixth housemate Johnny Carr — are exceptional in their own right, Stewart says that they have an “embarrassment of riches” when it comes to the guest and supporting cast.
This year Rodger Corser, Hugh Sheridan, Kate Jenkinson, Maude Davey and Kumud Merani star, with the latter serving once again as Harry’s (Joseph) mum, Manju. While Merani wasn’t in season three, she is back — and this time with a vengeance — with Stewart praising her performance and overall persona.
“It’s a delight to have her back and she’s front and centre this series,” Stewart said while adding that Manju is just “so mean” to Liz.
“Liz just gets a whiff of approval or anything from her and she’s just all over her desperately seeking her approval.”
Stewart’s Liz has evolved over the past three seasons
For Stewart’s Liz, the character has seen an evolution in which Stewart herself didn’t see coming.
“I genuinely never know what’s going to happen to me each season,” she admitted, while adding that creators Michael Lucas and Christine Bartlett “get a kick out of pushing all the characters into unexpected directions.”
“The fact that this incredibly successful, adversarial, glamorous, lawyer has been dropped into a share house and dealt with communal food poisoning, questioned her sexuality, lost her career, worked at a nursing home, these are things that I would never have imagined and it’s just delicious, just coping with it and seeing how she copes with it. It’s great fun.”
Following on from the popular first season, we saw Liz “deconstructing” the facade of someone who was incredibly successful and now, we were finally able to see the real her.
“We kind of learned as season one progressed, that a lot of that armour was just to conceal the fact that her life was complete sh**-show,” she said, saying that now “[we could see] what was going on underneath and what happens to her when she takes away the rules, and takes away the trappings of success.”
“Who is she really? And what kind of life does she really want to lead? And what kind of decisions is she going to make if she takes away the pressure of her status anxiety that we see so much of in the first season. So, it’s been a real interesting journey.”
When asked if she saw any of herself in Liz, Stewart called it an “interesting question”.
“I think there are elements of me in every character I play,” she said. “I think that’s kind of the thing. You’ve got to find what’s truthful to you, and then it’s a part of you and you sort of amplify it or explore it more for the character. So certainly, there’s part of me in Liz…. But she’s, she’s quite tough and quite flawed.”
Stream Five Bedrooms on Paramount+ from May 14.