“That was very appealing to take on.”
With a career spanning three decades and peppered with accolades, it’s not hard to imagine Norris would have no shortage of interesting, nuanced characters cross her path. So why come halfway across the world to film here?
“(Choosing a project) is always script-led for me,” Norris explains. “My agent did the regular thing and came to me with a script and said, ‘Would this be something you’d be interested in?’
“I read it and knew immediately that it would be.
“Then I had a chat with the fantastic Bevan Lee, and he was so passionate and enthusiastic, and Between Two Worlds was a massive labour of love for him – I was infected by his enthusiasm,” she explains. “I just thought he was great. And at my age, I thought, ‘Come on, take a little step into the unknown. It will be an adventure on so many levels!’ So I did.”
In March last year, 53 year-old Norris, her husband, ex-Cold Feet writer and Kingdom creator Simon Wheeler and their children Wilf, 16, and Hero, 12, relocated temporarily to Bondi. The family stayed for a month over Easter before returning to the UK, while Norris stayed on until July.
All four fell for their temporary new home almost immediately.
“It was a big commitment and a big leap to come here,” Norris says. “But can I tell you something – I fell in love with Australia. I met some of the most brilliant people I have ever met in my life. It was a leap into the unknown … but I am very thankful that I took it, because it proved an incredibly positive, life-affirming experience.”
With hindsight, and in this post-COVID-19 world, Norris recognises how fortunate she was to have squeezed in one last international sojourn before the world ground to a halt.
“Theatre is totally, totally shut down over in the UK,” she says. “It’s really heartbreaking and very worrying. TV soaps are literally just opening up now, so I would imagine the drama series will hopefully follow.”
While she has no new projects on the horizon, it’s hard not to imagine there won’t be work opportunities once things do start to open up. For the time being, though, Norris is content to bunker down with the family in their country home, which has been something of a refuge of late.
“Honestly, on some level, as an actor, I have been doing this for a very long time now, and it takes a huge amount of energy, even when you’re not working, to keep open, ready, willing and able to go anywhere on a phone call,” she explains. “It’s a brutal and tough enough industry anyway – (the pandemic) has just added a whole other level of the unknown.”
Norris says she feels grateful she got to have her Australian adventure while it was still possible.
“This pandemic, it has changed everything, hasn’t it?” Norris says. “It’s made everybody rethink. I feel very blessed and very lucky that I got to come to Australia when I did.”
Between Two Worlds premieres on Seven on Sunday, July 26 at 8.30pm.