COVID-19 traps Grey’s Anatomy star in Australia
A holiday to Australia for Kate Walsh has turned into a five-month stay thanks to coronavirus.
The Grey's Anatomy star is so happy Down Under, she is in no rush to return to New York.
"I feel super lucky," she tells Hibernation. "I didn't really want to go back to New York in the middle of a pandemic when it was pretty gnarly to say the least. I couldn't go home initially and now that I can, I don't really fancy going back. When I have my own mother saying don't come home, my 86-year-old mum … we are in a very challenging time."
Walsh, 52, has set up a second home in Perth, where she has been working feverishly on plans to bring Hollywood productions to Australia with the industry crippled in the US as COVID-19 continues out of control there.
"I want to work here. That has been my passion project," she says. "The whole world is looking to Australia with how amazingly well - even with the surge in Victoria - how Australia in general has handled the pandemic has been remarkable and inspiring. It is literally changing the world economy and particularly my business is shut down in America and so it is a real opportunity."
Walsh cited Nicole Kidman bringing Hulu series Nine Perfect Strangers to Australia, with a big name cast including Melissa McCarthy, as an example of Hollywood working here during the coronavirus crisis.
"What Nicole Kidman is doing, people are coming and quarantining to make their movies and TV shows here," she says.
Sydney, the Gold Coast and Melbourne already have the facilities to host big movie and television productions. Walsh is working to set up similar studios in Western Australia and she is putting her money where her mouth is, so to speak, by meeting with state and federal politicians.
"They all want stages built here so we can bring in some of the international productions," she explains. "It has been exciting and I think there has been a lot of forward momentum. It is just going to take an effort between federal, state and local governments and then private investment. It is really exciting … a new industry that will create tonnes of jobs whether there is a pandemic or not. It is so the right time."
The specific show Walsh is hoping to bring to Australia is "a streamer".
"I have a show in development by the same people that did Ozark," she says. "Fingers crossed. I can't say too much but let's say it has some nefarious activities in port cities."
Walsh was refreshingly down to earth as she spoke to Hibernation via Zoom, with the handle 'Kathleen Walsh' popping up on the screen.
"That is my official name," she laughs. "That is for creditors and for my mum when she is mad. Kathleen sounds like she is from human resources and she runs a tight ship."
Travel is one of Walsh's greatest passions, which is why she is in Australia with hopes to visit Ningaloo as well as the Great Barrier Reef.
"That all got thwarted when the lockdown happened, so here I am," she says.
Walsh is a big star internationally thanks to more than two decades in the business.
It has been 15 years since she first played Dr Addison Montgomery on Grey's Anatomy, a show she says "feels like a lifetime ago and yet it changed everything in my life".
She has appeared in more than 30 films, her next being Honest Thief alongside Liam Neeson and Australian Jai Courtney. In addition to Grey's Anatomy, her small screen credits include Grey's spin-off Private Practice, as well as Bad Judge, King of the Hill, Full Circle, Fargo and 13 Reasons Why.
"When I was 21 I was waiting tables and when I was still waiting tables at 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 … it wasn't until I was 28 that I was finally able to go, 'See ya'," she says. "And then I still had to come back for a few shifts.
"I am very fortunate and particularly where I've gotten to do shows where people love them. When you are lucky enough to thread that needle and be on something that is critically-acclaimed and audiences like it, they don't always go hand-in-hand, I feel very fortunate."
Walsh plays The Handler in The Umbrella Academy, with the second season released last week. The Umbrella Academy also stars Ellen Page, David Castaneda and Tom Hopper.
"We really delve into the Umbrella Academy, all of their different lives as they scatter and go their separate ways and have these relationships in different times," she explains. "They are very complex, so it is still action-packed so they have their powers and they are just as fallible and weird."
Some have likened the series' style to a Wes Anderson movie; Walsh describes it as "cinematic" like "doing a play with a film".
"You really have these meaty scenes, which is not common in television," she says. "It is just fabulous, I am really excited. So much happens and my character takes a big turn into a real power trip. She comes back from season one, where we thought she was dead, goes back to work and finds she has been massively demoted. She is completely power hungry wearing fabulous costumes and hats the whole way through."
* The Umbrella Academy is now streaming on Netflix. Grey's Anatomy is now streaming on Stan.
Originally published as COVID-19 traps Grey's Anatomy star in Australia