Back from the brink

Grant Bowler has fi­nally found US star­dom, with a lit­tle help from St Vin­nies, writes Erin McWhirter

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News -

RIGHT now, life couldn’t get much bet­ter for Grant Bowler. A month ago, he scored the role of Coot, a biker were­wolf, in the US se­ries True Blood.

Bowler’s tri­umph comes af­ter he en­dured fi­nan­cial col­lapse dur­ing the five years he tried to break into Hol­ly­wood.

It was tough, and it took a toll on his wife, ac­tor Rox­ane Wil­son ( Stingers), and their two chil­dren, Edie and Ezekiel.

New Zealand-born Bowler had made his mark on Aus­tralian TV with stand­out roles in Blue Heel­ers, Pa­cific Drive, Me­di­vac, Stingers, All Saints and Canal Road. He was also host of the re­al­ity se­ries The Mole.

Aus­tralian view­ers would recog­nise him as the nar­ra­tor of Bor­der Se­cu­rity and a star of pop­u­lar New Zealand com­edy Ou­tra­geous For­tune.

All of that home­grown suc­cess came rel­a­tively easy for Bowler. Break­ing into Hol­ly­wood has been a dif­fer­ent story.

The 41-year-old fi­nally started mak­ing pro­duc­ers sit up and take no­tice with his roles in the HBO se­ries 12 Miles of Bad Road and the ad­ven­ture drama Lost.

Now he’s winning ac­claim in Ugly Betty as an Aus­tralian busi­ness­man named Con­nor Owen, who be­comes in­volved with Mode mag­a­zine. Do you put down your re­cent TrueBlood sign­ing to your role onLost, Ug­lyBetty or some­thing else? To be hon­est, and this is some­thing my wife Rox­ane and I were talk­ing about yes­ter­day af­ter­noon over a cup of cof­fee, my path in the United States wasn’t the dream that you read about in mag­a­zines. We went broke more than once and we lost a home. I had come so close to get­ting stuff (roles) and when­ever it came down to that coin toss it went the other way ev­ery time. Ugly Betty, PG 7TWO, Tues­day, 7.30pm Be­hind the world of fash­ion Du­ra­tion: 1 hour Did Rox­ane ever ask you to give up on the dream? All my mates were say­ing: ‘‘You are go­ing to have to de­cide that that’s enough be­cause you are go­ing to be broke for life.’’ It was hor­ri­ble. We were broke and we were liv­ing in hor­ri­ble joints with bor­rowed fur­ni­ture and stuff I had picked up from St Vin­cent de Paul or on the side of the road. Is the au­di­tion process in Hol­ly­wood soul-de­stroy­ing? I re­mem­ber go­ing over there for an au­di­tion in the first few years and, I kid you not, the guy kept me in a hall­way out­side his of­fice next to the pho­to­copier room and no one talked to me and when I went in to read for the part he was an­swer­ing emails. He never once looked at me and when I had fin­ished he didn’t look up. I said thanks and off I went. That cold. When you’re that cold in LA there is no feel­ing quite like it. You die a lit­tle in­side ev­ery time and wake up and try to shake it off and go to the next one, but it doesn’t al­ways work. How has the ex­pe­ri­ence changed you? It’s changed me as a man for the good. I think I al­ways needed to go through that in one form or an­other, whether I wound up be­ing at home or stay­ing over there. I wish I was a quicker learner and wish I could have gone through what I needed to learn faster and that it cost less. But no mat­ter how much it cost or how long it’s taken I wouldn’t go back for any­thing. I am dif­fer­ent now. It’s just grow­ing up. I had a kind of gilded cage at home where I wasn’t do­ing what I wanted to be do­ing, but I was mak­ing a good liv­ing. But I was never go­ing to do what I wanted to do if I didn’t push my­self. What’s it like work­ing on Ug­lyBetty? I love those guys and there isn’t a diva among them. We filmed in the Ba­hamas for 10 days and it was an ex­am­ple of what that cast and crew were like. They didn’t have to call any­one to set be­cause we were all ly­ing around on ba­nana chairs on set and two would get up and do the scene. Then we’d go out to din­ner ev­ery night, so we were to­gether 18 hours a day and every­one wanted it that way. We never wanted to leave one an­other’s com­pany. What type of scenes or char­ac­ters are you most at­tracted to? There are three that I ab­so­lutely adore. I never get tired of the man/ woman stuff, that stuff about re­la­tion­ships and love. Then there is the man/child stuff. It’s re­ally close to my heart be­cause I have young kids. Then flog­ging guys is the third. Just bash­ing guys is what I love.

The smile is back: Grant Bowler on top of the world again and (inset) with Vanessa Wil­liams in Ugly Betty.

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