Ryan Corr


Ryan Corr – a self-con­fessed “tan­gen­tial lit­tle bug­ger” – is ex­plain­ing his be­lief that there are four types of ac­tor. “The frst are the good-look­ing ones in capes who are never out of work. The sec­ond are per­son­al­i­ties charm­ing at one or two things. The third type is char­ac­ter ac­tors – they bring other things to roles but you know it’s still them. And then there are the ma­gi­cians who have the abil­ity to con­vince they’re a dif­fer­ent per­son, but you don’t know how.” No prizes for guess­ing which Ryan Corr han­kers to be. And so far, so good. In so many ways. Un­der­belly street thug. Dippy hippy in Love Child. Gal­lipoli soldier in The Wa­ter Diviner. Gay ac­tor-author-ac­tivist in Hold­ing the Man. Any­thing Mr Corr can’t do? “Mu­si­cals,” he dead­pans. “Singing live and stand-up com­edy are ter­ri­fy­ing. In act­ing you can hide be­hind a char­ac­ter but in mu­si­cals you can’t bull­shit an au­di­ence if you don’t hit that note or step.” Aside from an in­fa­mous slip last year, Corr hasn’t missed many cues in his short, daz­zling ca­reer. Get­ting the lead in a school play as leader of bully gang the M&MS pro­vided the ini­tial spark. Now, the Mel­bourne man and NIDA grad­u­ate has bro­ken through with his bravura per­for­mance in this year’s Hold­ing The Man, the flm of Tim Con­i­grave’s 1995 mem­oir on his life with lover John Ca­leo. “It was the most pro­found ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve ever had as an ac­tor,” says Corr. “Tim was a truth-at-all-costs char­ac­ter and the poignancy of his story helped a lot of gay men broach those ini­tial con­ver­sa­tions. So from the be­gin­ning I knew the bench­mark of do­ing a good job wasn’t go­ing to be re­flected in box-of­fce tak­ings or good re­views, it was all down to whether Tim’s fam­ily and friends thought I had done him jus­tice.” Rave re­views from both flm and fam­ily cir­cles an­swer in the af­fr­ma­tive. And that’s grat­i­fy­ing for Corr, who un­der­took deep im­mer­sion for the role. “In­ter­view­ing Tim’s mother, brother and sis­ter, I re­ally ex­plored my own sex­u­al­ity. Hold­ing hands on the street with Craig (Stott, co-star), I’d see peo­ple’s faces change and think, ‘My god, what was it like for Tim and John when ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity was il­le­gal?’ It was a whole new world of un­der­stand­ing for me.” Corr’s Twit­ter feed es­pouses the mantra: ‘Life is a mys­tery to be lived, Not a prob­lem to be solved’ and sit­ting here, in Syd­ney’s An­gel Place, fe­dora tilted over flu-shot green eyes, it fts. “Early on I learnt that part of the craft is cre­at­ing pri­vate and pub­lic selves and be­tween the two is good act­ing. You never know when you achieve it but when au­di­ences re­spond, it melts away in­se­cu­ri­ties and drives me deeper into char­ac­ter.” And up­ward to suc­cess, Corr al­ready eye­ing off his next steps. There’s the lead in Tom Stop­pard’s Ar­ca­dia with the Syd­ney Theatre Com­pany in Fe­bru­ary, Wayne Blair’s fu­tur­is­tic drama Clev­er­man to de­but on US Sun­dance TV in March and a blos­som­ing re­la­tion­ship with dancer Kyla Bartholomeusz to nour­ish the mo­ments be­tween. “Right now it’s about test­ing my range, ex­plor­ing the craft. Whether that hap­pens here or over­seas doesn’t mat­ter so long as I’m work­ing with great ac­tors on fan­tas­tic sto­ries.” To that end Corr has gath­ered an im­pres­sive en­sem­ble of men­tors to work his cor­ner. “An­thony Lapaglia has re­ally taken me un­der his wing, teach­ing me a lot and just be­ing a friend; Guy Pearce re­in­forced in me the phys­i­cal en­try points of act­ing – mak­ing sure the clothes and the wigs and the look is right. Ge­of­frey Rush had me round to his to go over the beats of di­a­logue and talk about char­ac­ter. They’ve all been so gen­er­ous and lovely and ego-free.” Then there’s Rus­sell Crowe, who di­rected and starred op­po­site Corr in The Wa­ter Diviner. “He schooled me in work ethic,” says Corr, with a grin. “Rus­sell’s al­ways had that drive to trans­form mind and body for his char­ac­ters. He knows a great per­for­mance isn’t just in what you fnd in the script, but how much you com­mit your body to the rigour of the role.” Crowe of­fered Corr sage ad­vice. “In Turkey he and I would ‘bro down’ and get per­sonal. I told him the idea of LA and go­ing over to crack Hol­ly­wood scared me. Old philo­sophic Rusty said: ‘No Ryan. Los An­ge­les is the city of an­gels. If you know what you want and com­mit to it then she will open her wings and de­liver your dreams.’” That dream is all the more invit­ing for the night­mare it sidestepped last year when Corr was ar­rested with 0.26 grams of heroin in a Bondi laneway. Fac­ing two years in pri­son, Corr was in­stead handed a 12-month good be­hav­iour bond. Bet­ter yet, with no con­vic­tion recorded, the US dream re­mained alive. “Look, it was a fuck up,” he says, openly. “Sud­denly I was con­fronted with my ca­reer go­ing down, not up, and peo­ple view­ing me neg­a­tively, not pos­i­tively.” So what hap­pened? He gulps. “I got caught red-handed. All I can say is I’m hu­man, I’m by no means per­fect, but I’ve learnt from my mis­take. I know I can’t con­trol what peo­ple think of me but I can con­trol my own de­ci­sions. Right now, I’m mak­ing them with craft in mind and life’s good.” Yes, it is. n

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