Are you a born and bred Hastings local?
I was born and raised in the small seaside village of Sawtell, which is just South of Coffs Harbour. In 2005, my father became Principal of Tacking Point Primary School, so we moved to Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie for my Years 11/12 (senior). My mother and father still live in Lighthouse Beach, but I now live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.
What are some of your favourite memories from your time spent living in the Lighthouse Beach area?
Some of my fondest memories of living in Port Macquarie are mainly made up of my times spent in the surf. I love Shelly Beach and the surrounding forests. No matter what the conditions, you’re always likely to find a wave at Lighthouse, and the beach is such a beautiful spot around dusk.
The coastal walk is something I will always tackle when I come home for a holiday. I spent a lot of time in the water before and after school and especially on the weekends. The beaches are so clean and possess that ‘untouched’ feeling, which is completely different to, say, the overpopulated Bondi.
Other memories include the times spent at school. I attended MacKillop Senior Campus for Years 11 and 12 … I was lucky to have some great teachers, especially my history teacher and my English teacher, whose support and genuine love of and investment into their work was inspirational and infectious.
In Year 11, I acted in a production of Equus, which was directed by Paul Plunkett, an English and drama teacher at the school. My memories of that man are profound, and the work he puts into everything he does has certainly given me an approach that I still carry with me into every job, audition and meeting I have.
What was your very first acting gig?
My very first acting gig was in a school production of The Three Little Pigs, in which I played the role of the Big Bad Wolf. Although it was a very long time ago, Year 4, I remember the excitement and wonder that comes with live theatre. That buzz you get and the immediacy of having the audience right there with you following your journey is something that will never die. That was the first time I fell in love with the idea of make believe and creating a rapport with the other actors on stage; the fun you can have with your fellow cast (especially when they are dressed as pigs!) is limited only by your own boundaries.
What training have you taken advantage of over the years?
As soon as I graduated from high school, I tried out for various drama schools across Australia and was lucky enough to be accepted straight into the 3 year Journey program at the Actors Centre Australia. After finding out it was the same school attended by Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, I wasn’t exactly over-confident going in, but it turned out to be the time of my life.
Since graduating, I’ve continued my singing training with my singing teacher, Jeremy Powell, and attend the odd dance lesson at Sydney Dance Company. I used to dance for Extreme Dance Studios in Port Macquarie, and I miss the talent of those guys and girls. Over the past two years I’ve also pursued more acting training (mainly for screen) in Los Angeles, working with the amazing Larry Moss, Lisa Beech and at Annie Grindlay’s studio in West Hollywood.
You live in Sydney now and have been fortunate enough to land some really good roles. Tell us about the character you’re playing on Underbelly:Badness …
I play a man named Craig Bottin. He works for Jonathan LaPaglia’s character, Anthony Perish. Craig was jailed for the kidnapping of Terry Falconer, which is explored in the first two episodes of Underbelly: Badness. In the series, Craig is portrayed as a gum-chewing sidekick with a pretty classy mustache. Hopefully Craig isn’t too disappointed in his portrayal!
You also had the chance to act alongside Olivia Newton John and Xavier Samuel in the feature film A Few Best Men. What did you take away from this experience?
A Few Best Men was a great experience. Unfortunately, a lot of what I shot didn’t make the final cut, but I had a great time shooting it up in the Blue Mountains. Xavier Samuel was very professional and focused, which was great to work with, and the entire cast and crew were hilarious. There was such a relaxed energy on set, and everyone was just there to tell a great story.
This was the first feature film I was a part of, and for that reason I was really excited going into it, and it taught me that you need to constantly find that sense of ‘play’ with your character in every moment of each scene.
Would you consider yourself a method actor, or a classical actor?
Although I was classically trained as an actor (through relentless voice classes, Shakespeare classes and everything in between), I don’t think I would label myself as one or the other − possibly a combination of both. For me, it’s all about serving the story and the writing. The sooner an actor can let go of their ego and invest themselves purely into the role of the character as it is written, the longer the career they will have.
I like creating imperfect characters; it stimulates me, and I love experimenting and playing with idiosyncratic behaviour every time I prepare for a role. That type of work allows me to find a ‘door’ into that character’s mind, voice and body.
Your goal at the moment is to pursue an acting career in The States. What kind of roles are you hoping to land over there?
Ultimately, it would be great to pick up a TV pilot, as this is a great springboard for many actors into building a career ‘stateside’, and the US is currently experiencing the ‘golden age of TV’, with shows such as Breaking Bad, Girls and Homeland really pushing the boundaries of the episodic formula.
My main priority is to continue building relationships with the US casting directors and secure representation whilst over there. Aussie actors are in high demand in The States, due to their work ethic and honest approach to their craft. It’s a great time for us to head over.
What’s the biggest acting goal you have?
My main goal is to have the freedom and opportunity to work in both film and on stage both abroad and here in Australia. There are some great films coming out of Australia, and picking up more roles here is something that I’m excited about.
Theatre is an actor’s medium, and doing a few shows a year keeps the creative juices flowing. I’d love to work with Philip Seymour Hoffman; I’ve seen a couple of shows he has directed here in Sydney and acted in on Broadway, and having the opportunity to work with a director/actor as inquisitive and as experienced as him would be amazing.
Interview by Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 83 Port Macquarie