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