Feeling right at Home
Bernard Curry is loving being one of Summer Bay’s elder statesmen, writes Megan Miller
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.’’