This is a rule of thumb for young actors. Or even old ones. Never, ever get attached to a script. “You can’t invest too much in a role in case you don’t get it,” says Natalie Abbott. “Because if you miss, then you get the sad ones.”
For better or worse, however, Abbott ignored her own advice – and that of everyone else – when she read the draft screenplay of Aftertaste. “I was like, hooked. And I thought: Oh no. Now I really care about this show. And if I don’t get that role, I’ll be so upset.
Luckily for everyone, Abbott landed the role of Diana West in the local comedy villain that became a smash hit last year. Erik Thomson is Easton West, the arrogant asshole of a celebrity chef who returns in disgrace to his hometown in the Adelaide Hills. Diana is his niece, a genius pastry chef whose desserts inspired by female genitalia are causing a stir.
It’s a wonderful parody of both food pornography and our obsession with chefs, food and cooking as entertainment. It’s a family drama. It’s the story of a middle-aged man steeped in toxic masculinity, trying to find his place in the 21st century. And a lot of it is about Diana’s journey, from youthful exuberance to deep self-doubt and on the other side to self-confidence.
“I love Diana,” Abbott says. “She’s such a beautiful person. She’s such a firecracker. She has so much passion for her art, her baking. And it’s really the one in the family that’s a little bit more self-aware.
And Abbott says that as an actor you’re always trying to find the points of connection between your own nature and the character you’re playing, there are definitely areas where she and Diana diverge.
“I’m a little drunk, but I’m not as inventive as Diana.” (The character’s swear words are hilarious and ingenious.) “I tend to stick to the standards, to the classics.” The two young women share a passion for their art and their profession and a desire to give their all. “But I think Diana is a little more confident. She is much more confident than me at her age. She was only 19 in the first season, 20 now. And at the end of the first season, she just left for London. I think that’s really cheeky – and something I definitely wouldn’t do.
Diana also relishes a fight. “I’m just the opposite,” says Abbott. “Just the word ‘confrontation’ makes me shiver. So having the opportunity to play is really exhilarating. She doesn’t hold back.