Grow­ing up fast

The tran­si­tion from child to adult ac­tor is rarely an easy one, writes Erica Thomp­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

AN­GUS McLaren’s leap from child ac­tor to prime-time TV star was a pretty dras­tic one. One minute he was a fresh-faced teen be­friend­ing mer­maids in hit chil­dren’s se­ries H20: Just Add Wa­ter and the next he was a mar­ried man in a suit fac­ing se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial strife in top-rat­ing drama Packed to the Rafters.

‘‘It’s pretty bizarre,’’ the 19-yearold says with a laugh.

‘‘I had to have a bit of a think about it — be­ing a mar­ried man. I don’t re­ally know a whole lot about that be­cause it’s not on my radar at all.’’

McLaren, who plays the black sheep of the Rafter fam­ily, Nathan, feared adult roles would be hard to come by af­ter mak­ing his name in chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion with shows such as H20, The Sad­dle Club and Sil­ver­sun.

‘‘It can be very easy to get caught in that mould (of child ac­tor), so Rafters has been per­fect to make the tran­si­tion,’’ he says.

‘‘They’d been cast­ing that role (of Nathan) for yonks. I think they’d even cast some­one, but it fell through.

‘‘It was cer­tainly not a role that I ex­pected to get. It just came out of the blue.

‘‘I was driv­ing down to Mel­bourne af­ter wrap­ping the sec­ond se­ries of H20 on the Gold Coast and I stopped over in Syd­ney to see some friends and did the au­di­tion just be­cause it was con­ve­nient. And got the part.

‘‘Now I’m kind of stuck there. Mum’s still wait­ing for me to come home!’’

McLaren, who grew up on a dairy farm in ru­ral Vic­to­ria, says he al­ways knew act­ing was his call­ing.

‘‘I don’t re­mem­ber a par­tic­u­lar point where I de­cided I en­joyed it. I think it was al­ways there, it just be­came more ap­par­ent that it was some­thing that I could pos­si­bly keep do­ing and hope­fully make a liv­ing Packed to the Rafters, PG Chan­nel 7, Tues­day, 8.30pm Fam­ily drama Du­ra­tion: 1 hour out of. I was never a huge aca­demic. I wasn’t bad, but my pas­sion al­ways seemed to be act­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘Both my broth­ers were school cap­tains so it was sort of like I had to keep up, but I didn’t fin­ish Year 12.’’

Not that the young per­former wasn’t earn­ing his keep away from his stud­ies, shar­ing the screen at 12 with Eric Bana in ABC se­ries Some­thing in the Air.

‘‘That was great. I re­mem­ber he was on Full Frontal so he was the first per­son I’ve ever re­ally been star-struck by,’’ McLaren says.

McLaren has re­mained a fan of Bana’s — par­tic­u­larly his abil­ity to rise to the top in a tough in­dus­try.

‘‘He sort of worked his way up. It didn’t fall in his lap. He cer­tainly worked hard for it,’’ he says.

‘‘I’ve sort of got to en­joy it while I can. I have seen older ac­tors who had good breaks early and didn’t re­ally go any­where af­ter that so I’m very con­scious of not let­ting that hap­pen, I sup­pose.’’

McLaren has been try­ing to ex­ert some in­flu­ence in this area lately and is keen to snag a role in the com­ing Lord of the Rings pre­quel The Hob­bit, di­rected by Guillermo del Toro.

‘‘If I could do any­thing, I’d be a hob­bit. I would be a foot of a hob­bit. I don’t care. I would just love to be on the set just to be a part of it,’’ McLaren says.

In the mean­time, he will have to set­tle for an­other fan­tasy se­ries as new episodes of H2O are about to start film­ing on the Gold Coast.

While he ad­mits re­turn­ing to chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion might seem like a step back, he has other mo­tives for want­ing to re­visit his past.

McLaren plays drums in in­die rock band Bal­let Im­pe­rial with H2O co-star Jamie Ti­m­ony, H2O di­rec­tor Jef­frey Walker and friend Will Shep­herd.

He’s even con­sid­ered how to deal with Rafters fans who show up at Bal­let Im­pe­rial gigs.

‘‘I’ll just have to scowl a lot: ‘Shut up mum. Shut up dad’,’’ he says with a laugh.

Hairy-foot hope­ful: (above) An­gus McLaren dreams of a role in The Hob­bit.

Dif­fer­ent drum: (from left) H2O co-star Jamie Ti­m­ony, An­gus McLaren and his friend Will Shep­herd are three of the mem­bers of in­die band Bal­let Im­pe­rial.

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