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