For 24-hour personal crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or visit the Lifeline website to chat online.
Celeste Barber struggles to remember the first time she met Mark Priestley. It may have been when she first starred on All Saints in 2005, or perhaps before. The actor had such a strong presence in her life, it just feels like he’s always been there.
Even now, 10 years after his death, that hasn’t changed.
Speaking to Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast, the actor/writer/comedian and Instagram sensation said she speaks often to her children about Priestly.
“I have this real fear that if you don’t talk about them they never existed. I know we’re lucky enough to have footage and stuff of Mark, but it’s very important to me,” the 35-year-old said. “That might be selfish because there are people that go, ‘I don’t want to talk about it’, and that’s fine. But I’m not one of those people.
“My [two sons] never met him, my step daughters, I don’t think, ever met him. And I find that the hardest to deal with, because I’m like, he was everything and he can’t not have ever been here. It freaks me out, that idea.”
Celeste talks to Mia Freedman about Mark. (Post continues below.)
Priestly was just 32 when he took his own life in September 2008.
Barber knew he was unwell; she saw the impact of his mental illness up close. But she also saw the creative side of him, the enthusiastic, the comedic, the one bursting with ideas. The side of him that would knock on the door of her Sydney apartment at three in the morning to write or film an original script.
Barber and Priestley’s friendship was built on comedy; it’s how they connected, personally and professionally.