Finding his voice
Playing one of Australia’s most iconic rock stars is a big challenge. But Luke Arnold, star of Seven’s INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, is up to the task, as Guy Davis discovers.
Charisma isn’t really a quality that can be “acted”.
The kind of presence or personal magnetism that immediately attracts the attention of others is traditionally something unique and innate, and it can be quite difficult to replicate.
That makes Luke Arnold’s portrayal of the late Michael Hutchence, in the Seven mini- series INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, quite the achievement.
The actor does a terrific job of conveying the INXS frontman’s sexy, restless energy and moody mysteriousness, traits that made him such a captivating performer.
At the same time, Arnold also balances Hutchence’s lust for life, especially in terms of his creativity and relationships, with an underlying sense of sadness and discontent. It’s marvellous work.
IArnold: “It’s almost two stories: the first one is about them taking on the world, the second one is the tragedy after that.”
However, the story of Hutchence – one of the most enigmatic figures in Australian rock music – is only one facet of INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, which focuses on the band’s rise to worldwide fame in the 1980s and ’ 90s.
The two- part mini- series is a story of a group of friends united by their love of music, who worked hard to make it big and played hard once they did, but whose success was ultimately marred by tragedy.
“It really is about them as a group, their friendship and their bond that was formed from coming together at such a young age,” Arnold said.
“It’s almost two stories: the first one is about them taking on the world, the second one is the tragedy after that.”
The mini- series doesn’t shy away from the hard- living lifestyle that took its toll on the band, or the demons that drove Hutchence to take his own life in 1997.
But INXS: Never Tear Us Apart is primarily a celebration of the group and its compelling frontman, and Arnold recognised early on he faced a huge challenge in honestly portraying Hutchence.
“He was such a distinctive guy, and so many people remember him and have a connection to him that it’s not a role you take on lightly,” said the actor, whose previous credits include Winners & Losers and The Pacific.
A personal two- week rehearsal period, during which Arnold basically locked himself away with nothing but INXS albums and music videos for company, helped him tap into Hutchence’s rock- star persona.
“I spent as much time as I could getting into his skin and making his mannerisms my own so it wouldn’t feel like an impersonation,” he said.
Just as important, however, was coming to understand the somewhat shy man behind that persona.
“Michael was a shy guy, especially when he was growing up, and he had to work out his own way of