Pa­trick Swayze be­came a men­tor to Travis Fim­mel on and off cam­era, as Guy Davis dis­cov­ered when he spoke with the young Aussie star of The Beast.

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While he may have a high-profi le mod­el­ling gig for Calvin Klein and a num­ber of act­ing roles in Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tions to his name, Travis Fim­mel is re­ally just a farm boy at heart.

In fact, one of the main rea­sons he got in front of the cam­era in the fi rst place? “ Gotta get more land, mate,” he said.

How­ever, with the way Fim­mel’s act­ing ca­reer is gath­er­ing speed, he’ll be lucky if he gets to spend much time on his fam­ily’s prop­erty near Echuca, Vic­to­ria.

One of his lat­est projects is the US crime drama The Beast, pre­mier­ing this week on ABC2.

In the 13-part se­ries, Fim­mel plays El­lis Dove, a rookie FBI agent who’s part­nered with vet­eran un­der­cover op­er­a­tive Charles Barker ( Pa­trick Swayze).

Barker may be some­thing of a leg­end in law-en­force­ment cir­cles but there are some who be­lieve he’s been work­ing un­der­cover so long he has be­come more like the crim­i­nals he’s out to bust.

For Dove, work­ing with the mer­cu­rial Barker is a trial-by-fi re, with his rene­gade men­tor of­ten plac­ing him in sit­u­a­tions that prove haz­ardous to his health. Barker may get the job done, but at what cost?

Un­for­tu­nately, The Beast has at­tracted at­ten­tion for the wrong rea­sons – Swayze’s bat­tle with can­cer be­came pub­lic knowl­edge while he was shoot­ing the show, and dis­cus­sion of his ill­ness of­ten over­shad­owed talk of his per­for­mance, widely re­garded as one of the fi nest of the ac­tor’s ca­reer.

Fim­mel is clearly through talk­ing about such top­ics (“ It’s amaz­ing what you get asked over here,” he said), pre­fer­ring in­stead to com­pli­ment the co-star who be­came a good friend dur­ing the gru­elling shoot in chilly Chicago.

“ I learned a lot from Pa­trick,” he said. “ He’s a bit of a coun­try boy like me. And I’ve learned as an ac­tor how com­mit­ted to the work he is and as a man how fear­less he is – it was amaz­ing for me to work with an icon like him.”

One doesn’t have to search too hard to see the par­al­lels be­tween the re­la­tion­ships shared by the two ac­tors and their char­ac­ters on The Beast, with Swayze as men­tor to Fim­mel on and off the screen.

But the lay­ers of de­ceit and du­plic­ity the show ex­plores, with Dove be­ing pres­sured to in­form on the pos­si­bly rogue Barker, adds a diff er­ent el­e­ment to the mix, one Fim­mel found in­ter­est­ing to play.

“ Barker’s a hard man to trick,” said Fim­mel. “ And if he ever found out that he’s be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, I’d be in a lot of dan­ger.

“ I think it re­ally gives my char­ac­ter an op­por­tu­nity to in­ves­ti­gate why are they go­ing to this much eff ort to make me mis­trust Barker. If there’s that many peo­ple work­ing against him, there must be a good rea­son for it, you know? So it defi nitely cre­ates some ten­sion.”

Cur­rently fi lm­ing the big-screen thriller The Ex­per­i­ment along­side Os­car win­ners Adrien Brody and For­est Whi­taker, Fim­mel is mak­ing a name for him­self in Hol­ly­wood.

But he still calls Aus­tralia home, and would ac­tu­ally pre­fer to be spending more time here.

“ I’m only here in Amer­ica for the work,” he said. “ I’d love to be work­ing in Aus­tralia all the time. I ac­tu­ally reckon 90 per cent of Aussie ac­tors would rather be work­ing at home, if they had the op­por­tu­nity to do it.”

Un­der the infl uence: Travis Fim­mel plays rookie FBI agent El­lis Dove, who is shown the ropes by vet­eran op­er­a­tive Charles Barker ( played by Pa­trick Swayze) in The Beast.

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