Feel­ing right at Home

Bernard Curry is loving be­ing one of Sum­mer Bay’s elder states­men, writes Me­gan Miller

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

THIS time last year, Bernard Curry was ready to quit act­ing. With a failed show on his hands, no au­di­tions on the hori­zon and hav­ing spent two years out of Aus­tralia, he was poised to turn his back on his 15-plus years in the busi­ness.

Dur­ing what he calls his ‘‘lean months’’, Curry set up a home record­ing stu­dio and con­sid­ered pur­su­ing his other pas­sion — singing.

‘‘I spent a lot of time record­ing and writ­ing, but it’s just at the time you de­cide to move in an­other di­rec­tion that you get pulled back,’’ he says.

Fast-for­ward to 2009, and Curry has a one-year deal to play Hugo Austin on the Chan­nel 7 soap Home and Away.

‘‘When you’re of­fered a year on one show, you do think of the pos­si­bil­i­ties that cuts out, but I was ready to work,’’ Curry says.

He has no re­grets about spending two years abroad with the Spiegel­tent trav­el­ling venue af­ter fall­ing in love with one of its stage man­agers, Sonya Bohlen, in 2005.

Curry left Mel­bourne and a closeknit fam­ily — in­clud­ing ac­tor broth­ers An­drew and Stephen — to work mostly as a front-of-house man­ager as the fa­mous tent staged shows at arts fes­ti­vals in Ed­in­burgh, Brighton, Lon­don and Auck­land.

When not work­ing, the cou­ple trav­elled ex­ten­sively in coun­tries such as Ger­many, Greece and Turkey.

But they gave up the gypsy life when Bohlen ac­cepted a pro­duc­tion man­ager’s role at the Syd­ney Opera House and moved back to Aus­tralia in late 2007.

Curry’s first gig back was a guest part that be­came a host­ing slot on Nine’s ill-fated com­edy Mon­ster House, dumped af­ter only two episodes be­cause of poor rat­ings.

De­spite the show be­ing over­looked on his Seven-is­sued bi­og­ra­phy, and its ax­ing sig­nalling the start of his au­di­tion drought, Curry is proud of Mon­ster House.

He laments it was not given the chance by Nine to shine. ‘‘They ap­proached my brother, Stephen, to do the host­ing and he said, ‘I’m not go­ing down that road, but thanks’,’’ Curry says.

‘‘Then it was down to peo­ple like Richard Wilkins and Jules Lund in Nine’s sta­ble be­fore (di­rec­tor) Ted Emery said, ‘What about Curry?’ and they told him he’d al­ready been asked and wasn’t in­ter­ested. And he said ‘No, the one stand­ing in front of you’. I got the gig, but un­for­tu­nately (Nine) didn’t have enough faith to give it a crack.’’

The months of ca­reer un­cer­tainty that fol­lowed fi­nally ended with a ‘‘serendip­i­tous mo­ment’’ at the open­ing-night party of the Syd­ney Film Fes­ti­val last year when Curry met cast­ing agent Ann Fay.

‘‘The next day, my agent rang and said I’d made an im­pres­sion,’’ Curry says.

The meet­ing led to roles on Fox­tel brothel drama Sat­is­fac­tion and Ten’s beach soap Out of the Blue, as well as a mem­o­rable two episodes as yoga teacher Vishnu on Seven’s hit Packed to the Rafters, a cameo com­plete with a morn­ing-af­ter bare­bot­tom scene. ‘‘Now I have the prime-time bum shot slot — it’s an hon­our,’’ Curry says with a laugh.

Hav­ing ap­peared in Neigh­bours in the mid-’90s and now Home and Away, Curry reck­ons he’s landed the ‘‘quinella’’ of Aussie act­ing, though the time dif­fer­ence be­tween call­ing Ram­say St and Sum­mer Bay home makes him feel old.

‘‘Do­ing Neigh­bours, I was al­ways the young punk,’’ he says.

‘‘But now I’ve come in to Home and Away and I’ve gone ‘s---, I’m one of the elder states­men’. Apart from Ray Meagher (Alf) and Lynne McGranger (Irene), it’s then down to Jon Sivewright and me.

‘‘Without sound­ing con­ceited, I’m one of the more ex­pe­ri­enced, older ac­tors on the show.

‘‘But even though I’m 34, I act 12, par­tic­u­larly when I’m around (young cast­mates) Lin­coln Lewis and Todd La­sance. I re­ally en­joy be­ing around that en­ergy.’’

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