For the past five years, Australian actress Rachel Griffiths has played the sultry and complicated Brenda Chenowith on the popular HBO series Six Feet Under. Mom to 18-month-old Banjo Patrick (he’s named after beloved Australian poet Banjo Paterson, who wrote “Waltzing Matilda”) and married to Australian artist Andrew Taylor, Griffiths, 36, is expecting the couple’s second child, a girl, due on June 25.
As Six Feet Under enters its final season, her pregnancy was written into the show’s plot, to Griffiths’ delight. We talked with her in Los Angeles on a well-needed day off, as between spending up to 14 hours a day on the set, being nine months pregnant and caring for a toddler, she was understandably a tad tired.
Your pregnancy was written into the final season of Six Feet Under. How did that go?
Fantastic. It meant that I was never asked to do anything inappropriate, nor was I banished behind furniture. It’s such a joke when you try to hide it and everyone is making snide remarks behind your back about how fat you’ve gotten.
Did being on TV during your pregnancy make you overly conscious about weight gain?
Not at all. I’m conscious about gaining an appropriate amount of weight, and I’m pretty much exactly as I was last time. I gained 30 pounds, which is losable. I think there’s tremendous pressure to rebound, but I don’t think there’s tremendous pressure not to get big while pregnant. That would be evil.
How has this pregnancy been compared with your first?
It’s gone a lot faster. When you already have a child, you don’t have as much time to sit around and stare at your navel or have those long conversations with your baby that I had with my boy before he was born. Apart from that, I’ve been working, which I didn’t have to do during most of my last pregnancy.
What did you learn from your first pregnancy that’s helped you the second time around?
I don’t know if this is coincidence, but I have such a chilled-out little boy. He’s very clear in all his signals—none of that confusing anxious crying. I do feel that because I had such a relaxed pregnancy, he came out relaxed. So the big thing this time is trying not to get stressed out.
So how are you managing to stay relaxed?
I’m doing prenatal yoga. I also hike with my boy. We only go about 100 meters, but it takes an hour—a perfect pace when nine months pregnant. We stop and look at the flowers and pick up rocks. I do things like that to fight against the modern pace that we’re all juggling.
Do you eat differently when you’re pregnant?
I cut out sushi even though my obstetrician says that women in Japan eat raw fish all the way through. I just eat smaller portions of everything and eat more often. I consume more protein, low-fat dairy and whole grains, and don’t eat much white flour. I also just started craving ice. I like chewing it. I do believe in listening to your cravings, except when they involve Starbucks and candy bars.