“There is great freedom from just playing it honestly rather than trying too hard to act.”
Interview by Joanne Kmaid
You began acting at 16. Did that impact your teenage years?
Yes. Watching Jaws at the age of 8 and visiting Universal Studios inspired me to want to work in movies. I was in Year 11 when I first landed professional roles on Blue Heelers and Neighbours. So much fun, but it did disrupt my education, which at the time, was fine with me. The only regret is that I lost some interest in other subjects. Since then, I have rediscovered a love for History and Science. Also, it was difficult attending an all-boys school where teens look for any excuse to tease you. I have been working in the industry for 20 years now.
Working in this industry for 20 years is a milestone! What keeps you going?
Like most actors, I am drawn to the next challenge, the next story. The opportunity to explore a certain feeling or different lifestyle is exciting! Nothing you could get tired of. The hustle and grind can be exhausting, but the inspirational and creativity thirst I had as a teenager remains.
Looking back with an adult mindset, what changes would you make?
I discovered filmmaking in Year 11 and decided to go to film school instead of drama school. I wish I had also applied at a training centre like NIDA. Acting has always been my passion, but I did drift away from the theatre scene for some time. I should have remained connected to the stage and considered university as a Plan B option, because the Australian film industry can be a difficult climb. Otherwise, I am confident that I have learnt priceless acting skills in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
Which actor has left a lasting impression?
A great number of actors inspire me. I discovered the subtlety of performance and how to hold back emotions from watching Robert De Niro. His eyes say everything. I learnt the power of making bold choices from Jack Nicholson. It can take a while for an actor to find their own voice and bring their true personality to a role. There is great freedom from just playing it honestly rather than trying too hard to act.
How did you score a role on Winners & Losers?
Well I auditioned for it, I guess! [Laughs]. I met the casting director, Andrew Thompson, several times at workshops. He had cast me in a few roles previously on City Homicide, so he was eager to bring me in for new opportunities. A great guy indeed!
What can you reveal about your character?
I play a cyberstalker for a new character on the show. It’s always fun to play the bad guy. The cast and crew are a close unit and awesome to work with. I am blessed to be a part of a successful show.
You spend half your time in L.A. and half in Melbourne. Is that your smart career move?
I am hoping to relocate in the coming months as it is the next logical step and I love the energy in L.A. I have been cast as a lead actor in a horror film, The Rage of March. At this stage, we will be shooting in Portland and L.A. You can really lose yourself in opportunities there, so long as you don’t get lost in all the nonsense and parties. America is obviously a bigger pond with more openings, but a lot more competition too. Everyone is hustling over there, but I feel that I am old enough and experienced enough to negotiate my way through. You can only present yourself, and when an opportunity arises, you go for it.
Is the American film industry overrated?
I don’t believe so. The American film industry is broad enough to discover some real gems. There are excellent independent films that speak to the heart of American cinema. They’re just harder to find as we are bombarded with tent-pole movies which get produced, because they bring in the dollars and people want to view those genres. It’s a shame that for most part, filmmakers do it merely for the passion rather than being able to truly survive and thrive in the indie scene. Producers are slowly discovering new ways to market, fund and monetize their projects in the new digital age.
What are your current aspirations?
I love storytelling. My grandfather was a great teller of tales and I was fascinated by authors like Roald Dahl. My passion is directing the vision through storytelling. I am developing several scripts that have been on the back burner for too long, but will be kicking into gear in L.A. this year. Other than that, I will keep marching forward and collaborate with people who bring out the creative best in me. Hopefully make a living doing so. How far that takes me, I don’t know, but I will be happy either way.
Are your Mum and Dad proud?
I hope so. My parents have supported me through every stage and encouraged me to be who I want to be. I never felt pressure to not pursue an artistic life despite its potential difficulties. My mum encouraged me to take risks and my dad taught me to keep a smart head – A perfect balance. My mother sadly passed away in 2010, but I always endeavour to be someone she would be proud of.
This interview was submitted by Cinema Australia contributor Joanne Kmaid. If you have an article or interview you would like to submit for our consideration please contact us today.