Australian actress Rachel Griffiths danced to ABBA for Muriel's Wedding back in 1994 for a breakout role. She followed that with an Oscar nominated performance in Hilary and Jackie and a hilarious turn on My Best Friend's Wedding, her American film debut. On television she created two unforgettable parts as Brenda Chenowith on HBO's Six Feet Under and as Sarah Walker Laurent on ABC's Brothers & Sisters.
In the process she has earned a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and three Australian Film Institute Awards in addition to four Emmy Award nominations.
She made a Broadway debut for Other Desert Cities before her latest project. Camp is a dramatic comedy series following the adventures of campers and counselors at the Little Otter Family Camp. Griffiths plays the director of the camp Mackenzie Granger.
Windy City Times called up Griffiths to discuss life away at Camp.
Windy City Times: Hi, Rachel. I'm a big fan of your work starting with Muriel's Wedding.
Rachel Griffiths: Ah, well good morning. How are you?
WCT: Great. It has been wonderful to see gay characters in several television shows you have been involved in.
Rachel Griffiths: Oh, yeah; I did Six Feet Under back in 2000. We made that pilot and were really kind of groundbreaking I think about normalizing the gay family member.
Then moving on to Brothers & Sisters. I think we had the first gay wedding on network television.
Now we're in a kind of a light-hearted growing American camp tradition and there we have the full gay family.
WCT: The face of television has changed a lot during your career.
Rachel Griffiths: It has. More than anything I can't imagine NBC would have been kind of tossing that idea around casually.
I'm really proud to be part of the change in attitude towards gay families and gay marriage, also the representation of gay families and gay relationships in a very kind of normalized way.
I know Raffi and Todd still have a guest role in these early episodes but they should certainly become more significant. Some of the issues that children of gay parents particularly and the marriage thing debate is still out there and some people are trying to say that it's not an ideal situation for children to be raised in.
To be following the child of that situation and her being such a beautiful girl and her being a good voice of how it feels sometimes to be the subject of any prejudice, I just think it's a real. It's a really interesting progression through the last 13 years and for what GLAAD has done in representations of those issues in the media.
WCT: You have a lot of gay fans in Chicago, just to let you know.
Rachel Griffiths: Thank you so much.
WCT: What is it like filming on location in Australia?
Rachel Griffiths: I love being outside. It's my favorite place to be. I'm a real water girl so it was a stunning place to shoot. It's got to be one of the most beautiful locations in the world.
WCT: This seems like a return to comedy for you.
Rachel Griffiths: It was kind of terrifying for sure but also a real pleasure. It was a return to Muriel's Wedding having this dramedy tone. It was definitely kind of lighter with hilarious moments.
I was the biggest Ally McBeal fan. I'd learn a lot from Calista. She would definitely take the drama when it was there but really she has quite a unique way of keeping it light and fluffy when that's really all that's called for.
WCT: What was the best thing about going to camp as a kid yourself?
Rachel Griffiths: We don't so much have the big camp tradition in Australia. One thing is that our summers are only half the length of yours. So we're not trying to keep our kids occupied for three months.
The second thing is that most Australians get four weeks annual leave and they take it at that time. Then they roll it into the Christmas New Year so they end up with, sometimes five weeks. I know it's really bad, isn't it? It's probably why we're way down on the list of the world's most productive countries.
So I went to my first family camp actually as a family. I went to Camp Montecito up in the Sequoia National Park with the kids. We had actually a wonderful time and met these gorgeous kids because it was up in San Francisco that's all our gay families or Indian families.
There were some Hollywood families who were kind of going rustic and trying to get their kids away from the devices at which is very much with camping. And I really got it, you know. They keep you running off all day and did these great things and we hung by the lake and drank Chardonnay and read novels.
Then it all came together at night. It was a very nostalgic camp and had that 1950s feel. When they were explaining the pitch for the show, I was like, "Don't worry. I know. You don't have to explain."
Catch Camp Wednesdays on NBC.