Helen Mitchell: The toast of the town.

The shimmering talent of Heather Mitchell

Tim Minchin wonders if Heather Mitchell is a witch. "She must have a potion that gives her boundless energy and some kind of time-dilation spell so she can get more shit done," says Minchin, who worked with the acclaimed actor on last year's comedy-drama series Upright.

Heather Mitchell Actor

It's true; she does seem to be everywhere. To the generation of Australians who grew up watching

afternoon television in the 1990s, she is remembered as the ruthless villain Ashka in the fantasy teen drama Spellbinder.

Older viewers may remember her from 1980s mini-series Bodyline, where she played Hugo Weaving’s girlfriend, or in Jocelyn Moorhouse’s award-winning 1991 feature Proof.

As one of the best-known faces on the Australian screen, she’s starred in everything from Muriel’s Wedding and The Great Gatsby to Rake. In last year’s Palm Beachshe played Baby Boomer pin-up girl, Eva, an actor turned yogi confronting the impact of ageing on her career.

“There’s not many we could have given that yoga scene to,” director Rachel Ward said of the slender, 61-year-old Mitchell at the film’s launch.

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The Sydney Theatre Company

Archive: Heather Mitchell

Heather Mitchell Sydney Theatre Company Archive image

Heather Mitchell has been part of the STC family for over three decades. In that time, she's seen the company grow and change:

"I remember the opening party for The Wharf, which seemed to go on for days. Every space along The Wharf was crammed with people dancing and partying. It's probably because I was young then but there seemed to always be parties happening there. The STC has expanded enormously since the days I began with the company when it was two rooms and an office in Kings Cross. I think it is wonderful that the company offers so much to audiences. It is a huge company and maintaining intimacy in such an expanding environment is challenging but I always feel thrilled to be in the building and love working here. It is still the most beautiful, inspiring place to go to work."

And what has she learnt about working here? "Never leave cake lying around the STC. It will disappear."

From the classical to the contemporary, from the comic to the tragic, Heather has given countless acclaimed and fondly remembered performances.

Here, we look back on some of her roles at STC and pick up some anecdotes along the way...

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