Happy to be home

Af­ter some ups and downs, Brett Climo is rapt to be back in a big new pe­riod drama, writes Dar­ren Dev­lyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Cover Story -

SOME ac­tors are panic-stricken when faced with a scene with­out di­a­logue. But Brett Climo is one of those per­form­ers who sim­ply doesn’t need to speak to con­vey com­plex emo­tion. Of­ten, his eyes can say it all.

Climo’s poise and in­nate sense of dra­matic tim­ing make him a per­fect fit for his part in the big-bud­get pe­riod drama A Place to Call Home.

Climo is as un­pre­ten­tious as they come, so you’ll never hear him pump­ing up his own tyres when it comes to his skill in front of a cam­era.

What you will hear him talk about is how blessed he feels to be re­turn­ing to se­ries TV in a pro­duc­tion as lav­ish as APTCH and how he has em­braced the chal­lenge of adding lay­ers of warmth and hu­man­ity to the char­ac­ter of pas­toral­ist Ge­orge Bligh, who has been through the tor­ment of los­ing his wife in the 1942 bomb­ing raid on Dar­win and is try­ing to steer his fam­ily’s farm­ing busi­ness.

There is no deny­ing, he says, that APTCH comes with risk. It’s been a long time since Aussie view­ers have im­mersed them­selves in long-form ro- man­tic pe­riod dra­mas. He is op­ti­mistic, how­ever, be­cause APTCH has a se­ri­ously tal­ented cast (in­clud­ing Marta Dus­sel­dorp and Noni Ha­zle­hurst) and has Be­van Lee ( Packed to the Rafters, Al­ways Greener) as its chief cre­ative force.

‘‘ We have com­pleted 13 episodes and it’s beau­ti­ful and pre­cise, but a risk for Chan­nel 7,’’ Climo says.

‘‘ It’s such a pol­ished, rich ta­pes­try on the screen. The lead characters in our story are rea­son­ably wealthy, but the rich are nor­mally the bad guys in our dra­mas.

‘‘ When I read the script I thought the writ­ing was epic and large and that the characters were beau­ti­fully drawn. I so much wanted to be in it, but was think­ing I would be keen to watch it even if I didn’t get the role.’’

The first episode of APTCH has been de­scribed as a heady brew — equal parts Ti­tanic, Downton Abbey, and Baz Luhrmann’s Aus­tralia.

It’s 1953 and enig­matic nurse Sarah Adams (Dus­sel­dorp) ar­rives back in Aus­tralia af­ter 20 years abroad. Sarah is out to re­unite with her es­tranged mother, Grace (Kris McQuade), af­ter a fam­ily tragedy. Things don’t go well. Sarah sud­denly finds her­self aban­doned and alone.

Flash back three weeks ear­lier, and we see a hap­pier Sarah nurs­ing wealthy ma­tri­arch Elizabeth Bligh (Ha­zle­hurst) dur­ing an ocean cruise.

It is here that Sarah catches the sub­tle ro­man­tic at­ten­tions of Elizabeth’s son Ge­orge (Climo). When Sarah’s life starts to un­ravel, she turns to the Blighs for help. Can she make a new life in the coun­try with the help of this rich pas­toral­ist fam­ily?

Strong, in­de­pen­dent women are cen­tral to pro­ceed­ings in APTCH, which is no sim­ple melo­drama. Most of the key characters are grap­pling with is­sues about fam­ily, re­li­gion, eth­nic­ity, or sex­u­al­ity and try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate the so­cial up­heaval grip­ping the 1950s.

It’s a wel­come re­turn to the screen for Climo, whose big break came in 1987 when he scored a role in mini-se­ries Viet­nam. He fol­lowed up with on­go­ing roles in A Coun­try Prac­tice, The Fly­ing Doc­tors, and Snowy, and has ap­peared in a string of movies and the­atri­cal pro­duc­tions. Most re­cently, he shone in the Un­der­belly tele­movie, Tell Them Lu­cifer Was Here. But Climo has some­times had dif­fi­cul­ties ne­go­ti­at­ing the slip­pery course be­tween celebrity and anonymity.

Qui­etly spo­ken and pri­vate, Climo has never been one to seek pub­lic­ity sim­ply for the sake of main­tain­ing a pro­file.

This doesn’t sug­gest, how­ever, that life as an ac­tor has al­ways been easy for Climo. As tal­ented as he is, Climo is acutely aware that un­em­ploy­ment in the act­ing busi­ness is

It’s such a pol­ished, rich ta­pes­try on the screen

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