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
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