Still Strictly avail­able

Paul Mer­cu­rio, de­spite a glit­ter­ing past, strug­gles for act­ing roles, writes Siob­han Duck

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

PAUL Mer­cu­rio took up cook­ing to kill time be­tween act­ing jobs but in re­cent years, with roles frus­trat­ingly few and far be­tween, he has found his reper­toire of dishes be­com­ing more ex­pan­sive than his act­ing CV.

He even plans to write a cook­book.

Now Mer­cu­rio has found a way to blend his two loves — food and per­for­mance— with his new se­ries for Chan­nel 7, Mer­cu­rio’s Menu.

As the host of the show, Mer­cu­rio has trav­elled round Vic­to­ria and Tas­ma­nia in search of hid­den culi­nary trea­sures.

But he hasn’t given up on act­ing and says he will keep bang­ing on doors, if that’s what it takes to get an au­di­tion.

You would think with Mer­cu­rio’s long list of cre­den­tials, not to men­tion his Lo­gie nom­i­na­tion for his work in The Day of the Roses, that he wouldn’t find him­self hard up for work.

But be­com­ing known for his role as Scott Hast­ings in Strictly Ball­room and now a judge on Danc­ing With the Stars has proven to be a dou­ble-edged sword.

The dancer-turned-ac­tor and TV pre­sen­ter says he is of­ten over­looked for roles be­cause he is so well-known for his past and present work.

As a judge on Danc­ing With the Stars, Mer­cu­rio says peo­ple mis­tak­enly as­sume he is a Chan­nel 7 star, when in re­al­ity he is not con­tracted to the net­work.

He was thrilled to play a guest role in City Homi­cide last year and would love more TV se­ries work — on any net­work — in be­tween record­ing Danc­ing With the Stars and Mer­cu­rio’s Menu.

‘‘As a work­ing ac­tor it makes it tough,’’ he says.

‘‘I am not con­tracted to Seven, but Nine and Ten don’t want to know about me.

‘‘I have been bang­ing on doors and mak­ing calls.

‘‘ Un­der­belly? I would have loved to have been in that.

‘‘Or The Pa­cific. I just would like a chance to au­di­tion.’’

In the years af­ter Strictly Ball­room, Mer­cu­rio pur­posely chose parts that were com­pletely dif­fer­ent to his work in the Baz Luhrmann movie, to prove he had range as an ac­tor.

He made the bondage com­edy Exit to Eden with Dana De­laney, the bib­li­cal epic Joseph with Ben Kings­ley and the erotic film The First 9½ Weeks.

For a short time af­ter Strictly Ball­room’s re­lease he based him­self in Los An­ge­les where, Mer­cu­rio says, Amer­i­can pro­duc­ers were more will­ing to ac­cept him as an ac­tor rather than a dancer who turned to act­ing.

Aus­tralians were not as open-minded, he says.

Mer­cu­rio finds it strange that per­form­ers have to be pi­geon-holed as ei­ther ac­tors, dancers or mu­si­cians and are rarely ac­cepted for be­ing able to do more than one thing.

‘‘ Peo­ple think Strictly ( Ball­room) was my first act­ing job,’’ he says.

‘‘But I’ve been act­ing on stage since I was 12, just as a dancer.

‘‘Peo­ple want to de­lin­eate be­tween dancers and ac­tors.

‘‘They can’t ac­cept that it’s all just sto­ry­telling.

‘‘We all tell sto­ries, whether it’s through dance, song, mime or per­for­mance.’’

The idea of rais­ing his fam­ily in Amer­ica held no ap­peal, so he re­turned to Aus­tralia with the hope of com­mut­ing be­tween Melbourne and Los An­ge­les for work.

He says a story on the evening news about the lo­cal air­port of­fer­ing use of its X-ray ma­chines to scan chil­dren’s Hal­loween lol­lies for ra­zor blades shocked him and con­vinced him to re­turn home to the com­par­a­tive safety of Melbourne.

Mer­cu­rio has re­turned to Amer­ica to work as an ac­tor and chore­og­ra­pher. Most no­tably, he worked on the film, I, Ro­bot, star­ring Will Smith, for which he cre­ated the move­ments of the an­i­mated ro­bots.

As for danc­ing, Mer­cu­rio says his danc­ing days are over. Th­ese days he prefers to leave that to Danc­ing With the Stars con­tes­tants.

Cook’s tour:

Paul Mer­cu­rio’s culi­nary trav­els have taken him round Vic­to­ria and Tas­ma­nia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.