THE BIG ASK DAMIAN WAL­SHE-HOWL­ING

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

What is Crash In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit about? The show is about real-life car crashes. The unit doesn’t call them ac­ci­dents, be­cause there is al­ways a con­tribut­ing fac­tor. The main fo­cus of the unit is that crashes hap­pen be­cause of lapses in con­cen­tra­tion or al­co­hol lev­els or drug lev­els. And let’s face it, we all switch off at times. Is show­ing that crashes are of­ten pre­ventable a rea­son for mak­ing the show? It is at­tempt­ing to raise aware­ness without preach­ing. Our roads are gen­er­ally fairly safe, but a lot of peo­ple have been in­volved in crashes. I’ve been in­volved in a near­fa­tal my­self. We of­ten see what’s in­volved with pick­ing up the pieces. The show gives the per­spec­tive of all sides: the po­lice, the vic­tim and their fam­ily, and the other driver’s. In that way it does raise aware­ness. You said you’ve had a crash. What hap­pened? I was 18 and had just got my li­cence. I was on a wet road and it hadn’t rained in a while. There was a bend in the road and I lost con­trol of the car. Be­cause I didn’t have the ed­u­ca­tion and hadn’t been taught how to use the wheel and brake prop­erly in that sit­u­a­tion, I com­pletely lost con­trol and slammed side­ways into a pole. The dam­age to the car was ex­ten­sive. When the po­lice ar­rived they thought I was dead, but I was stand­ing on the foot­path. So you were very lucky. I was very, very lucky. None of us was badly in­jured, but it had a se­ri­ous im­pact on me as a young man. It wasn’t like I was de­lib­er­ately ir­re­spon­si­ble, but I think I had a (false) sense of con­fi­dence. The first thing I did af­ter the ac­ci­dent was book into an ad­vanced driv­ing course. Did that ex­pe­ri­ence at­tract you to the show? Def­i­nitely. I’m a lot more aware things can go wrong. Without hav­ing had that ex­pe­ri­ence, I wouldn’t feel so close to the sub­ject mat­ter. Crash In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit deals with some very con­fronting is­sues. How has do­ing the show af­fected you emo­tion­ally? Life is pre­cious and you can lose it in an in­stant. Death is some­thing we shy away from a lot in this so­ci­ety, whereas if you go places like In­dia, at the fu­neral there is griev­ing, but there is also a cel­e­bra­tion of life. I did think a lot about that sort of stuff when I took on the show. The show also makes you re­alise the trauma that con­fronts the rel­a­tives of the crash vic­tims. Do you think the show is ther­a­peu­tic for them? That’s been the case in a lot of the shows. The fam­i­lies have re­ally wanted to share their sto­ries. How did it feel to play Benji in Un­der­belly? That will be a ca­reer high­light. You’re deal­ing with a real per­son and a cer­tain el­e­ment of re­spon­si­bil­ity comes with that. I had an ex­tremely grat­i­fy­ing time on the show be­cause there was so much re­spect shown from ev­ery depart­ment. The writ­ing was fan­tas­tic. Do you hope to re­turn in the next se­ries? In this in­dus­try you never count your chick­ens be­fore they hatch. I had such an in­cred­i­ble time. It was an hon­our to do the show. Was it some­thing you knew was go­ing to be a hit from the beginning? From the minute I read the first few scenes I was like, ‘‘If this con­tin­ues like that in the read­ing and if they com­mit to shoot­ing it in a way that’s as ex­plicit as it’s writ­ten, noth­ing is go­ing to stop it’’.

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