LORD OF THE RINGS
Laid-back mode fits the role
Sunday Mail (Adelaide, Australia)
Dec 29, 2002
DAVID Wenham sits in a Sydney hotel overlooking the harbour.
The Aussie who plays Faramir in The Two Towers is in laid-back mode, admitting
it's the only mode to be
in. "I made my mind up long ago not to get too
stressed about things,'' he says.
"The less you stress and worry, the better for you.''
That was the attitude the actor took when he was asked to test for a role in
what could be the most successful
and profitable film production of all time.
"I was in Sydney at the time,'' Wenham recalls. "I was asked to put down a
screen test, which I did.
"I called a friend in to do the reading with and then sent it away. I thought
nothing else of it and two
weeks later was offered the role of Faramir. It
came as a shock.
"I hadn't read Lord Of The Rings. I did know about it, it was around at
school but I was too busy doing
something else at the time.
"After I got the role I darted out to the closest bookshop and looked under T
for Tolkien, grabbed it and
got into it.''
Wenham is easy-going off screen, saying: "I am what I am. I don't put on
masks when I'm not working. When
I get the role I get into it and do what's
Many -- most -- will remember Wenham as Diver Dan from Sea Change, a role he
grins about now.
"I won't be back there because Sea Change is a great show that won't come
Then there is The Boys, a stage play with Wenham later appearing in the film
version as a chilling, laid-back,
quietly-spoken thug Brett Sprague, who goes
from domestic violence to murder.
Molokai sees Wenham in the lead role as priest Father Damien in the true story
of a man of God who devotes
his life to caring for the sick in a leper colony.
"I saw the script and knew straight away that was the part I really wanted,''
says the actor who went on
to feature in The Bank with Anthony Paglia. "I
think Father Damien was an extraordinary human being.''
The varied roles reflect Wenham's philosophy to life -- "obsessed at learning
about things I know nothing
"I immerse myself in other cultures when I can. I love walking through the botanical gardens examining the
nature of things and I love the Sydney Swans footy club.
"I think sometimes I wasted many of my school years, so I'm making up for
Lord Of The Rings moves the Marrickville-born actor into the big league,
admitting he was bewildered by
the success of part one.
"This is a huge undertaking,'' he explains. "It is the work of many people
but Peter Jackson is the driving
force, a genius. I suppose in some respects I
had it easy with not being there a long time working.
"Some of those working on the extended shoots, such as the battles, were full
on and exposed to really
tough environments like rain and cold.
"I may have got out of it a bit easier.''
Wenham says Jackson is very approachable, not intimidating,
and can inspire
everyone around him.
"From the moment I saw his first, Bad Taste, I was immediately
says. "For the first time I wanted to write a letter to this guy and say I
think you are just wicked and
I'd like to work with you.''
David joins the Goliath
The Advertiser (Adelaide, Australia)
Dec 26, 2002
APART from being co-stars, Aussies David Wenham and Miranda Otto have
something else in common - a little
secret. They appear in The Lord of the
Rings: The Two Towers, set to be one of the most successful films of all time,
like Fellowship of the Ring last year.
Although J.R.R. Tolkien's books have a huge, worldwide cult following, neither
Wenham nor Otto had read them.
"I came to it totally new,'' the 37-year-old
Wenham reveals. "It was a world I was unfamiliar with until I read the book.
read it, I thought why didn't I read it earlier? It's the greatest
"I knew it was the biggest selling book after The Bible . . . (and) the scale
of the film but did not anticipate
the phenomena it has become.''
In the second instalment, Wenham plays Faramir, a human from Gondor and the
brother of deceased Boromir.
Faramir captures the Hobbits in Emyn Muil.
Wenham says Two Towers has turned out better than he could have possibly
envisaged or imagined. "What writer-director
Peter Jackson has done is truly
extraordinary, certainly exceeding my expectations,'' he says.
THAT EYE THE SKY
SAT 08 OCT 1994, Page 7
ORT TO BE FABULOUS
By COSLOVICH G
ACTOR David Wenham is 29. He spent a sparkling childhood in the cultural melting-pot of Marrickville, Sydney,
and at school was the font of jokes - not the butt of them.
Morton Flack is 12, caught in a thorny existence in a dreary outback town, and battling a tragedy-laden puberty
as well as the venomous snipes of high-school bullies.
But these differences will be cast aside when Wenham plays Morton, or "Ort", in The Burning House theatre
company's stage adaptation of Tim Winton's moving tale, That Eye, The Sky.
The newly formed Sydney theatre group revels in playing with fire.
Not content to stick with the tried and tested, its first production tackles the work of one of Australia's
most celebrated authors.
"Our policy is not to play safe," Wenham says.
"We could have put on another Shakpeare, but we wanted to find something that was Australian and new." Company
director Richard Roxburgh was intent on finding a work in the magic-realist literary tradition for the ensemble's inaugural
But after scouring the works of many a South American writer, Roxburgh and actor Justin Monjo unearthed a
magic-realist in their own back yard.
"It was an ambitious choice, but we just held our noses and dived in," Wenham says. The choice has proved
That Eye, The Sky played to enthusiastic audiences at the Sydney Festival in January this year, and next week
will test its magic on Melbourne audiences during the Melbourne International Festival.
Told in Winton's inimitable self-effacing style, That Eye, The Sky is the simple, poignant story of one boy's
coming of age in the most trying of circumstances.
Ort's parents are relics from the '60s, tender-hearted old hippies still clutching idyllic dreams of peace,
love and self-sufficiency.
But a car accident which leaves Ort's father comatose sends their humble but happy lives into a tailspin.
The somewhat slow-witted Ort is left to grapple with a mutinous older sister, a muddling mother, a mysterious
vagabond and the meaning of life.
The challenges of transferring Winton's eloquent tale to the stage prompted Roxburgh to comment that it required
the "mad naivete" of all involved.
"Mad yes, naive no," is Wenham's response.
Taking on the part of a 12-year-old wasn't too arduous for the 29-year-old: "I am an uncle 12 times over,
so I have a lot of Ort within me, from observing nieces and nephews. "And Tim Winton makes the character crystal clear so
that it's not a quantum leap to play him, even though he is so far removed from myself," Wenham says.
But the madness comes in the frenetic physical demands placed on the actors, demands Wenham compares to running
a marathon that would do Steve Monaghetti proud.
"It is extremely physical," he says.
"The actors create the environment, the physical landscape.
"The set is sparse. It relies on the actors to bring the scenes to life."
Indeed, Roxburgh has actors doubling as chickens, the furniture, cicadas, birds and a cacophony of quirky
The company also makes ingenious use of minimal props to bring the magic-realist elements of the play to life:
a trick table with more attachments than a Swiss Army knife, seven chairs, a few ladders and two or three ropes are all that
will be used to create sets ranging from the vast expanses of the outback to the nightmarish outpourings of Ort's mind.
The script is zealously faithful to Winton's work, as it ought to be. The story's humor and lyricism depends
on Winton's disarmingly acute descriptions and in-your-face dialogue. "All of the dialogue within the play is Tim Winton's
and it follows the same narrative thread as the book," Wenham says.
"The only difference is that we had to cut the action that wasn't essential to the plot, otherwise it would
have turned into another Mahabharata," he jokes.
But have they done Winton's work justice?
"It captures it totally," says Wenham, who is an ardent Winton fan, and has just devoured the author's latest
book, The Riders.
"The best description I heard of the production came from the director, George Ogilvy, who said "it is like
naive art on stage'."
Author: PAMELA PAYNE
Publication: The Sun Herald
THAT EYE, THE SKY
Adapted by Richard Roxburgh and Justin Monjo from Tim Winton's novel.
Director: Richard Roxburgh.
The Burning House at the Old Sandstone Church, Darlinghurst.
"IF you look at the sky for long enough, it looks exactly like an eye." Ort (David Wenham), a slow thinking
- the result of meningitis - 12 year old with a penchant for eavesdropping wants to fathom the unknowable. His observations
are not complicated by rational thought, or prejudice; he sees visions that seem as real to him as the tangible world.
Ort - grave, single minded and doggedly loyal - is the pivotal character of this play. Wenham is the lynch
pin of this performance ensemble. And one of the joys of this production is the quality of ensemble performance that director
Richard Roxburgh has achieved. That Eye, The Sky is sharp and vigorous theatre, with performers who are not characters in
a particular scene providing sound effects or visual embellishment - manipulating the white silk creek, for example, where
Ort and his friend Fat Cherry (Steve Rodgers) sail their rusty raft.
This is a fine eight member ensemble, at its centre Wenham, and Rachel Szalay as his some-time hippie mother,
the bewildered, resilient Alice. Susan Prior plays his older sister Tegwyn, all unresolved fury and confused passion and Hugo
Weaving, a bible touting enigma in a tattered coat who chooses this family, and specifically Ort's comatose, severely injured
father Sam, as the source of his redemption.
Roxburgh's staging is simple, well paced and imaginative - actors swing aloft on thick hanging ropes, clamber
up ladders, move through and over the space in tight, emphatic patterns. And, wrapped in a shawl behind her ancient piano,
Celia Ireland as Grammar provides an evocative musical context for much of the action.
This opening of That Eye, The Sky is a premiere extraordinaire: the first performance of a new play - an effective,
if awkward at times, adaptation of Tim Winton's novel by Richard Roxburgh and Jutine Monjo; the first, impressive, foray into
direction by actor Richard Roxburgh; and the first work of Sydney's newest theatre company, the Burning House. It's a premiere
sizzling with excitement and promise.
TALE OF THE TIGER
Note: This one-man show not only starred David, but he also co-directed it and designed the staging.
A ONE MAN SHOWPIECE
Author: Ken Healey
Publication: The Sun Herald
IT has been a week notable for young performers creating their own work: Lounge Acts at the Harold Park hotel, and David
Wenham Downstairs at the Seymour Centre.
He has chosen a contemporary writer, Dario Fo, who was expelled from the Italian communist party for being too far to the
Wenham is performing a one-man show that Fo developed from a street performance he saw in Shanghai. Its overt political
content comes toward the end of its 70-odd minutes, when Party mandarins try to dictate a village's relationship with its
tigers. Before that, the story is simple in the extreme, and works on a personal level.
In China the tiger is a symbol of courage. One of Mao's troops, fighting the armies of Chiang Kai Chek, is wounded and,
at his own request, left by his comrades. He enters a cave which turns out to be a tiger's den. His relationship with her
and her cub is as uplifting as it is literally incredible.
Fo gradually worked up a quarter of an hour's material into a performance piece for himself. Those who have seen him do
his Mistero Buffo on video will know what an extraordinary performing focus and energy he brings to the service of his writing.
He tends to perform in factories and other non-theatre spaces, relying, as a busker does, on his magnetic persona and his
politically and socially sharp material.
David Wenham has chosen to disarm the theatrical conventions by talking to his audience as it settles, and only gradually
moving into the telling of his tale.
He quite frequently involves members of the audience in his story, and even gets the whole house roaring on cue like tigers.
Yet he does not overdo the skills of the panto dame.
He has a credit in the program for having co-directed this piece, and it is clear that there has been a primary input,
simply from his persona. I use that word advisedly.
It is a performer's public personality which is closer to himself than any character he may assume. But it is never quite
the performer's offstage self. Television personalities work off their personas constantly.
In that regard David Wenham is an angular-featured young man with a lithe body and expressive arms and hands. Some of his
most impressive moments theatrically were his unselfconscious gestures as he chatted to us about the show.
He displays a wide range of voices and postures during the tale itself, but properly hangs the telling on the thread of
his own public self. For instance, there is no hint of realism in the descriptions of pain or fear.
The mode is folk-epic
narrative, and Wenham has a natural flair for it.
To say that he does not sound the resonances of the piece the way Fo would do, or even as he will do himself in 10 or 15
years is not to belittle Wenham's achievement in any way. Fo wrote for himself, a mature man. The way a youngerman understands
and presents it will be different.
I should have liked a little more darkness, but I'll settle for a stimulating, thought-provoking, and mercifully short
night in the theatre.
CUB PLAYS IN AUSTRALIA WHILE TIGER PROWLS AT HOME
Author: By TONY MITCHELL
Sydney Morning Herald
NEXT MONTH, Dario Fo, Italy's foremost actor-playwright, will be 66. Together with his wife, Franca Rame, he
has written, directed and performed in nearly 60 plays, and he and Rame are still as hyperactive as ever.
I caught Fo resting in his Milan flat after his new two-and-a-half-hour solo show, Joha' Padan'. "It's a true
story, based on accounts by 16th-century German and Spanish sailors," he said. "Joha' Padan' is a king of Zanni - a prototype
of Harlequin - who ends up by accident on an expedition to South America.
"When they get there, he becomes a kind of shaman or spiritual leader among the Indians, and takes part in their
Joha' Padan' is playing to full houses in the prestigious Teatro Nuovo - a far cry from the converted suburban
cinemas, occupied factories and occasional sports stadiums where the couple used to perform their
left-wing political plays in the '70s and '80s.
Fo's age, dislike of long plane journeys and lack of English have meant that attempts to get him to perform
in Australia have always foundered on the rocks.
Fo's and Rame's most famous plays - Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Can't pay? Won't pay |, Female Parts,
and the semiautobiographical Open Couple -have been seen here in local productions, but it's their solo performances, like
Fo's Chinese-inspired fable The Tale of a Tiger, that hit home harder with audiences in Italy.
Fo has been playing Tiger on and off since he first sprung it on an unsuspecting Milan audience in 1978, and
now David Wenham, an actor 40 years Fo's junior, is presenting it at the Seymour Centre.
It's based on a story performed on a street corner in Shanghai by a Chinese peasant, who immediately attracted
Fo's attention by his profuse roaring, cat-walking, and narration in a minority dialect - spoken by only 60 million people!
Fo decided to do his own version in Padano, the 16th-century peasant dialect of the Po valley near Milan.
His most famous solo show in Padano is Mistero Buffo ("Comic Mystery").
After Tiananmen Square, Fo revived Tale of a Tiger with a new, topical preamble, relating the story to the Chinese
students' demonstrations for democracy.
"In China, the tigress has a very specific allegorical reference. You say that a woman, or a man, or a nation
'has the tigress' when they make a stand, and resist, at a time when most people are running away, copping out and ditching
the struggle. A person also 'has the tiger' when they never expect other people to solve their problems for them."
Surely recent events in China, the USSR and Eastern Europe have shaken Fo's Maoist beliefs in revolution and
"I always maintained a highly critical attitude towards the Italian Communist Party, because I saw its policies
as a betrayal of real Marxist principles of class struggle. I still believe in those principles, because they involve the
struggle to eliminate official doctrines."
For David Wenham, who played the brutal Brett Sprague in The Boys, Gordon Graham's grim and gritty play, based
on the Anita Cobby murder, at the Stables Theatre last year, and who was also in the Belvoir St football musical The Headbutt,
the style of Tale of a Tiger rather than its politics had an instant appeal.
"It's so simple and it has enormous comic possibilities for an actor. It's all about relaying a story to an
audience with nothing but your voice and your body. I did some background research on Chinese history, but I can't be Dario
Fo and I can't be a Chinese peasant, so I think it's a matter of letting the story tell itself - it's a universal story."
JUST ONE OF THE BEASTLY BOYS
Author: MICHAEL VISONTAY
Publication: Sydney Morning
DAVID WENHAM sips three or four short blacks out of a tiny cup, speaks slowly and radiates calm.
If it wasn't for the beard - a clumpy goatee that only gains shape around a can of beer - you wouldn't have
a clue that he goes to Kings Cross every night and transforms into the most violent, ugly animal you could ever hope (not)
The name of the animal is Brett, the eldest of three brothers and pivotal character in The Boys, the Griffin
Theatre's production of Gordon Graham's portrait of violence and misogyny now playing at the Stables Theatre.
In a script that other Australian commercial theatre companies considered too offensive and violent to accept,
Wenham endows Brett with a brutality as frightening as it is familiar. Swearing, leering, spitting and sticking his hand inside
his trousers, he delivers a memorable performance in an extraordinary play.
Wenham, 25, has been acting professionally for about five years since completing a Bachelor of Performing
Arts in 1986 at the Nepean College of Advanced Education.
Like many rising actors, he has worked in a variety of theatrical roles -from likeable gang leaders to expectant
fathers and in more classic plays, a judge (The Caucasian Chalk Circle) and a politician (The Crucible).
But none have approached the intensity or extremity of this one.
The Boys starts with Brett returning home to working-class surburbia after a year in jail for assault. He
has a goatee, a carton of Foster's and unlimited menace. All he wants from his girlfriend is sex. She wants more; she wants
Seeing his brothers already under the female yoke, Brett struggles to reassert control and goads them into
blaming their women for everything that's wrong with their world. When their anger reaches boiling point, they rape, torture
and murder a young woman.
Although many people have insisted that The Boys is based on the Anita Cobby case, Wenham echoes the playwright's
denial; it's about all men and violence.
"Not many people realise this, but Gordon (Graham) had the seed for the idea well before the Cobby thing occurred,"
he explains. It came from a family Graham knew in Perth, Wenham said.
The cast was given access to transcripts of the Cobby case but Wenham says he deliberately didn't look at
them. He already knew how to play Brett.
He learned about him from three years living in Kingswood, one suburb this side of Penrith, while studying
for his degree. Last year he found even stronger role models during a stint in jail, acting in a film made for the International
Year of Literacy.
Wenham played a prisoner and a lot of actors in the film were prisoners. "So a lot of the research had been
done before the play. I knew the character, the way he spoke, moved and the way he thought."
The playwright's ingenuity gives him plenty of dramatic ammunition. For example, the beer carton Brett brings
on stage - a vehicle as demanding as it is inspired. By the end of the play, the carton of 24 cans is empty.
The actors don't actually drink all the cans. "It's a bit of an illusion,"says Wenham.
But they drink most of them. Wenham has to down about five each night. "I have to suppress the alcohol and
not let it affect me. It's basically mind over matter."
He does drink beer, though not Foster's. "I hate Foster's but the stage manager thought it would be the beer
On the question of swearing, he points to another illusion.
"The script is so cleverly constructed ... there are very few expletives," he says, "but you come out feeling
that it is full of them.
"I admire Gordon for that. He didn't try to use too many."
Graham shows similar restraint with the petrol-head metaphor, with Brett mocking his younger brother Glen
throughout the play for driving a small Japanese car instead of a real car - a large, Aussie-made eight-cylinder job.
Ironically, Wenham has only just got his licence. "Until I got my P-plates, my girlfriend used to drive me
The Boys is at the Stables Theatre, Nimrod Street, Kings Cross. Phone: 3613817.
A Dan For All Seasons
Lets get one thing straight: David Wenham likes to work. In the three years since completing Molokai: The
Story of Father Damien with Paul Cox, he's appeared in no less than eight other features, including the second and third installments
of Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings as well as leading roles in The Bank, Russian Doll and Better Than Sex.
Equally at home playing a sociopath or a saint, and everything in between, Wenham isn't your typical chameleon
type who changes his appearance drastically from role to role in order to inhabit a character. He does, however, have an uncanny
ability to be completely natural in any part he plays, large or small.
Speaking on the phone from Sydney last week the 36 year old actor, maybe best known for his role of Diver
Dan in the ABC's runaway hit Seachange, makes it sound all too easy.
By TIM STEWART.
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien is quite a timely release too, isn't it?
Well for many reasons, absolutely, it certainly is. It's a story about people 150 years ago, people who were
suspected of having a particular disease and were sent away to an island - out of sight, out of mind - literally to rot and
die; and I just think there are parallels to what's occurring here at the moment.
How hard is it to sustain interest in something you've finished working on so long ago? Do you find there's
a sort of residual presence, or do you just shrug off each role like a snake shedding its skin?
It depends on the role, really. This one stayed with me for quite some time because I lived on the island
with Paul (Cox) for four and a half months and we lived within the community there, with people who lived there out of choice,
people who suffered from Hansen's disease. It's a great community, full of great joy and absolutely no bitterness. And then,
to spend that time and come back here and you know, I live in Sydney, rather a big city, and you just find that our priorities
are somewhat skewed, living back here. So in a way it was a good thing, it was a great thing actually, to have gone through
and hopefully a lot of that still resides in me some years after.
There was a point in the film when it dawned on me that: "hang on a minute, this isn't make-up," it was
the real deal. With something like that where you have the reality of these people right there in front of you, as an actor
that must be a tremendous bonus.
It certainly was. It was irreplaceable, in a way. Initially the people who live on the island weren't going
to have any physical involvement in the film. They own the land and they'd given us permission to shoot there and that was
the extent of their involvement. However, Paul eventually gained their trust, so much so, that they actually offered to become
involved in the film. And, you know, looking back on it I just think, God how could we have actually told the story without
them, because they lend a - well obviously a realism to the film, but certainly a great purity and honesty to the story.
One of my favorite scenes is when Leo McKern hears your confession. How hard was that, to act in French,
standing in a boat and staring right up at the sky?
Very difficult when you don't really understand French, so you just have to have great faith in the people
who've helped you get to that point in your performance. It was actually the last scene of the film that we shot, and I was
rather exhausted by that particular point in time. But I loved it, because it's just such a wonderful scene; and I just wished,
in a way, that it was subtitled as well, to allow the people who don't understand it get an insight into it, because there's
a wonderful humour in that speech as well.
Given the emotion that did come through, and the context of the scene, it seemed it was the right decision
not to have subtitles.
(Sounding surprised) Oh, good. That's good to know. Obviously the skill of Leo McKern in particular, makes
an enormous difference, by the way he's reacting to what I'm saying at various given moments. He definitely gives you some
idea as to what's going on.
When you're looking for a role, is there a conscious effort to step out of your comfort zone, or is it
more a case of just being happy to be working?
(Laughs). You know, I'm always happy working; I am at my happiest when I'm working but yes, I certainly like
to be pushed, I certainly like to be challenged. I never want to become complacent, because the minute that starts to happen
I think the work deteriorates, so I do like being challenged and this role certainly did that for many different reasons.
Watching Better Than Sex, Josh didn't seem much of a stretch for you at the time, but I suppose it would
have been as quite a necessity to have a bit of light relief after having just played Father Damien.
I actually loved the script. I just thought it was a really clever little film, and it was also the opportunity
to work with Jonathan Tiplitsky, the director, who I think is a great talent.
It was a clever construct, the way it was put together, but it was rather co-incidental how you had the
European film A Pornographic Affair, come out at the same time.
That happens quite a lot. It's strange, that, what's it called, the collective unconscious?
Like if one person can have an idea on one side of the world, then that idea becomes available anywhere
out there, in the ether, so to speak?
There might be something in that, although there also might be something in the fact that there's no new ideas,
necessarily. There's that old thing - essentially there's only six stories, and it's just a re-telling of any one of those
Do you have an opinion about the current obsession with reality TV? It seems as though people are looking
for a more 'truthful' experience, but they're looking in all the wrong places.
Possibly the use of the word "truthful" there is rather interesting, because is it really? All those programs
are manipulated; they get all the footage and then it's at the whim of the editor and the director. The idea of truth is quite
fragile, I think. But there's room for everything it hasn't really broken into the feature film business; If there was
a feature film of Big Brother I don't think too many people would be lining up to pay their 14 bucks or whatever to go and
see that. That's when you know that people like myself will have to be concerned, but I don't think we really have to worry
about it too much at the moment. It's a fad on television, and why it is, is because it's bloody cheap to make. Drama's expensive
to make for television, unfortunately.
Yeah, and with Big Brother they get to use the same set twice.
Everything. And it's wonderful product placement as well, but eventually people will see behind those cynical
motives. I have a lot of faith in the intelligence of others.
Going back to your very first part ... it was Sons And Daughters, wasn't it?
Or maybe A Country Practice? Did you feel back then, as a young actor, obviously very hungry, did you
feel as though, "now I've made it?"
Well, it's all happened rather... (chuckles)... back then when I was doing television, did I think I'd made
Oh, back then I was quite ecstatic to be working, in telly. I thought that was pretty cool at the time. But
the progression from there to now has been quite gradual, in a way, so I've not really noticed any great shift; which is good:
I would have hated to suddenly, at the age of 18 or 19, been thrown into a big international film. I don't know if I would
have been able to handle it, because I think at that age I was rather immature.
How do you feel about the North American movie factory that is Hollywood, for want of a better term? Is
it something you want to avoid, necessarily, or is it that you're waiting for something worthy of your time and energy?
It's like anything, I think, there's good and there's bad. Sure, Hollywood produces a lot of crap but among
that there are some wonderful movies as well, and obviously some great talent over there that, if given the opportunity, I'd
certainly love to work with. But I've never been driven by the almighty dollar, so that's not my motivating factor.
Of course. It's sad that people equate success with a major North American release. It doesn't necessarily
mean one thing's got anything to do with another, does it?
Yeah, exactly I'm right with you.
I held off on watching The Boys for a long time - not because of the subject matter, but because the underclass
characters you all played are usually only ever two-dimensional caricatures. It soon became clear, though, that everyone involved
felt a great responsibility to nail it, and to really do the characters justice.
Absolutely. It's rare that you get that on a project, but all of us felt extremely passionate. And it was
a very low budget film. Where we shot, we rented this particular house as our set. The house next door, we rented as our make-up
room, our wardrobe, our green room; so basically we lived in that environment for the period of filming and we did become
a closely-knit family unit. And sometimes that's the best way to work; the low budget sort off needs that passion and that
desire and that fire, to really create something fabulous.
Where do you go to find the character? Or is that what the actor's skills are all about, accessing those
darkest areas, pretty much at will?
I suppose it is, in a way that's what the job entails. There was quite a period between the film and the play
that I did (upon which the film was based), so I'd been with that character for a long time. And there was an incredible amount
of research done into the piece for the (others') character work as well. I'd also spent time in Long Bay Gaol here, working
with inmates during the Year Of Literacy. I grew up in the inner Western suburbs and studied in the outer Western suburbs,
so the whole world and the milieu and the characters they weren't foreign to me. So, once you have all of that at your disposal,
then you can let your imagination just run with all that and hopefully you come up with what we did in that particular film.
Toni Colette said once in an interview that there were times when you were really freaking her out, got
her quite upset. I suppose that's as good a compliment as you could get from another actor, but did it cause problems sometimes?
Not really. I do remember one particular instance when that occurred, but no, you just deal with that, you
confront certain things when you're acting. You confront them, deal with them and then move on.
Now that you've achieved a reasonably high profile, in this country at least, does it get any easier to
find interesting roles? Do you have to sift through more crap or less, as a result of that?
I think everywhere, not just in this country, everywhere, it's very difficult to find, like, amazing scripts.
I have so much respect for writers, because look, writing a great script is not easy. So yeah, I do read a lot, but very little
actually really excites me.
You wouldn't like to give me your agent's number, by any chance, would you?
(Laughs) God no, I'll read anything.