“Dad used to hire movies almost every night, and we would get together as a family and watch them after dinner.”
You have some great achievements attached to your names. Hard work or has life been kind to you
Good question. A mentor once said, “Success is hanging on while others let go.” Meaning, we all get that big chance, but you have to stay in the game. Very rarely does a star become a success overnight.
It takes years of hard work and lots of rejections and failure, but you have to fail forward in life. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. You may hear the old story of someone being found in a restaurant or on the Internet and becoming a star overnight. But there are tens of thousands of actors who look like you and will be applying for the same roles as you. Hard work and hustle is how you achieve results. You have to always work at acting! Get involved in a play, write a script, shoot a project or audition for a role. That is the honest truth and that’s what it takes.
Michael, you landed a role in Ned Kelly. Did you work with Heath Ledger on-set?
Ned Kelly is one of my favourite Aussie films, but I never had the pleasure of working with Heath on set. I was dating a girl in the country and I heard they were casting for Ned Kelly near her place, so I called the casting director and told her I was keen to be a part of this film. Next minute, I was auditioning then I got a minor role. I loved every day on-set. It was a surreal moment in my career when I first watched Ned Kelly at the cinema opening night.
Jonathan, you worked with James Franco on his new feature film, Don Quixote. What an experience!
Working with James on Don Quixote was a mind blowing experience! Just to be next to a legendary actor was exciting enough. We were filming a complicated action scene and it was interesting to see him, the lead and the star, forget his lines numerous times. The production crew had to reset every time. The reason I mention this is because even an Academy Award nominated actor, who has been involved in over 100 films and is one of this generation’s finest actors, can make mistakes. It was so important to see that first hand. I must say that when he did get rolling, he was unbelievable to watch and his performance was astounding. We get caught up in the idea that actors are automatic and amazing performers that never drop a line or make a mistake, but they’re not. I learnt more from watching him that day than I did in a month of classes.
Sounds like you boys are living the dream…
We are living our childhood dreams. Every day is a gift and that is the way we approach it. We still have many dreams we want to achieve on the silver screen and we will. Mum used to say to us both, “Don’t be afraid of hard work, it won’t bite you.” [laughs]. That is what the film industry is all about – Hard work! Dad used to hire movies almost every night and we would get together as a family and watch them after dinner. Although it’s not the most inspirational movie, watching Predator at the age of ten planted a seed which continues to grow today. We feel truly blessed. We’ve always wanted to live in L.A. and to be actors. This is the best time of our lives!
Is acting a family trait?
We are the first two in our family to step into the film world, but from a young age, we always wanted to do something different and films seemed crazy enough. We used to watch Star Wars like ten times a day; The Terminator, Predator, Freddy Krueger, all the classic films. Anything with action or horror, we would watch them together.
Compare Australian actors with American actors.
Australian actors work harder and are more driven. They are willing to leave their homes behind and everything they know to chase their dreams. They come to America with their suitcase and a dream yet to be fulfilled. We don’t have the opportunities that the American market has, so Aussies work at the craft to stand out and build a career. American actors are well trained and very hard working too, but there is a distinct difference and approach to the craft of acting. Australians are going gangbusters over here at the moment. We have so many amazing actors working in the business and that is a compliment to the American actors.
Tell us about your next project.
Michael: I have finished writing my feature film directorial debut, The Sacrifice. It’s about a retired bounty hunter who is drawn to one last case. With only a few months to live, he must confront his past to heal his future. I plan to approach established American talents in early 2016 with the goal to start shooting later that year. I promise this film will not disappoint.
Jonathan: I am currently working on a film I wrote, and will direct and star in. It is called The Measure of your Faith. It is a modern day remake of the famous Biblical tale, the Book of Job. After that, I am slated for another film, Risk, which I am super excited about.
Australia hungers for your talent. Why not spread your wings here?
Dreams stay with you until you achieve them. We have always wanted to live in Los Angeles, to live the dream. It also happens to be the Mecca of acting. We are confident we will be back in Australia working on local films and TV shows. Admittedly, we miss Australia and all its beauty!
Have you got any Australian roles booked?
Michael: I have been cast as one of the actors in Brian Vaughan’s feature film, The Rarity. It will be filmed in Queensland in 2016, so that should be fun. I will also be working with filmmaker, Jason Trembath, on another Australian project in the near future.
Jonathan: I don’t have any Australian roles booked, but I did cast two Australians in my film, The Measure of your Faith.
What are your thoughts on the Australian film industry?
We have an amazing film industry. We have so many talented actors who are flourishing at the moment. We have some of the best teachers and acting schools. There is truthfulness to the Australian film industry and it shows in their films and TV shows. We have been lucky enough to work on Australian feature films, theatre shows and short films.
This interview was submitted by Cinema Australia reader and supporter Joanne Kmaid. If you have an article or interview you would like to submit for our consideration then contact us today.