Actor Focus: Damian Walshe-Howling

damian-walshe-howling-cinema-australia

“I was in St. Kilda and this woman with a strong Scottish accent stood two inches away screaming my name. I decided to impersonate her and scream right back!”

Interview by Joanne Kmaid

There has to be something incredible about meeting your favourite celebrity or crossing paths with the love of your life. There is a thrill about it. I met Damian Walshe-Howling 20 years ago on the set of Blue Heelers. I was roaming the studios of Channel Seven and living my work experience dream! It was a highly sought after industry, so I valued every step through that door.

To greet Walshe-Howling 20 years later is destiny’s kind hand at work. He left a wonderful impression back then, so I was ecstatic to contact him and do a write-up for Cinema Australia. He shared his view about love and how it fits into his world. “I love what I do. I love my family and friends. I love working in film and I love the opportunity to live my life,” he said. When asked about his relationship status, his private nature leaped into focus, and that was my signal to respect his privacy.

In a fast-paced industry that sees actors move from one project to the next, it is sentimental to hear that Walshe-Howling is still in contact with some of the Blue Heelers cast. “I saw Martin Sacks and his family recently; he lives regionally. He is a great ally and mentor. When I came to Blue Heelers, he took me under his wings and showed me the ropes,” he said. “I helped celebrate John Wood’s 70th birthday recently, and saw Lisa McCune and Julie Nihill too.”

From good cop (Blue Heelers) to hit man (Underbelly) to prosecutor (Janet King), this actor turned director/writer is no stranger to the creative industry. His mum worked as an actress, director and performer whilst his dad worked in music, so you might agree he was destined for the arts. Walshe-Howling gives due credit to filmmaker, Fred Schepisi, for being his film guru and life mentor alongside his students, actors, peers and friends’ children.

His latest short film, MESSiAH, saw him work with an amazing team, including the magnificent performer and actor, David Gulpilil, whom he purposely wrote the role for. When asked what inspired the film’s title, he affirmed that “It was inspired by people’s search for a miracle, people’s need for more, and their search for comfort in the form of another person.” MESSiAH is his third short film succeeding Suspended and The Bloody Sweet Hit.

It is refreshing to hear that his love for the indie film industry outweighs any competitive or devalued outlook. He holds high admiration for the independent film industry. “There is more freedom and excitement attached to it. People work for the love of the story rather than money. The less money, the more innovative you are,” he said. “But the commercial industry pays and they have more equipment.”

His zeal is playing roles that deal with psychology and the mind. He loves plot stories that challenge and excite him or dynamic roles that he can relate to. “When I was younger, I loved playing specific roles, but now I am more relaxed. I feel blessed to play roles with depth and from all walks of life. Every human being is capable of switching from light to dark or kind to cruel and back again,” he said.

Great to see his humour has not mellowed down. Walshe-Howling caused a spin of laughter with his most funny/memorable fan experience. “I was in St. Kilda and this woman with a strong Scottish accent stood two inches away screaming my name. I decided to impersonate her and scream right back! She was speechless and laughed so much that we ended up having a lovely chat,” he said. Awww… What a sweetie!

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.

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