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.

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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

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