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Kiwi Keenan s keen on Rafters
Kiwi Keenan's keen on Rafters

Packed to the Rafters guest star Camille Keenan is taking a break back at home in New Zealand to keep her boyfriend, Logie award-winner Dustin Clare (McLeod's Daughters), grounded.

"Dusty is starring in an American TV series, Spartacus, as a gladiator - I have to keep reminding him it's just a role," the 28-year-old TV/theatre actress told AAA, laughing on the telephone from Auckland.

"My brothers pretend they don't remember his name. They keep calling him Rusty," she said, referring to that other New Zealand gladiator, Russell Crowe.

Keenan's character in Rafters is the fiercely independent Bree Jennings, who stirs up old family issues - especially for brother Cody (Ryan Corr), who initially doesn't want to know her.

"When I started watching the show in the first season, I thought it was great the way social issues were addressed, even if it wasn't in a gritty way," she said. "Issues such as pornography, drug addiction and abuse of relationships were looked at in a way that a family could watch together and discuss.

"I think the show has broad appeal because family is such an important thing and we want to be able to talk about the big issues. I think that's how the show has found its fan base."

Based in Sydney's Maroubra, where she'll be returning this summer, Keenan said that two big pluses for working on Rafters for 12 episodes this season were Hannah Marshall (Loretta Schembri) and Zoe Cramond (Emma Mackey).

"We are all Kiwi girls so we bonded quickly," Keenan said. "They are lovely women and very talented."

Keenan, who makes her second appearance in Rafters tonight, believes Australia makes some of the world's best drama.

"Whether it is in film or TV or theatre, it is working with people I respect and with content I am passionate about."

HELEN CROMPTON