Walk­ing Dead star breathes life back into his ca­reer

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE COUCH - NEALA JOHN­SON EN­TER­TAIN­MENT WRITER

Af­ter his early years in Hol­ly­wood were spent run­ning around in the back­ground of big-bud­get movies with a ma­chine gun and lit­tle di­a­logue, now — al­most 20 years later — is a good time to be Cliff Cur­tis.

The New Zealand ac­tor has re­cently racked up two dream film roles: bipo­lar Kiwi chess master Ge­n­e­sis Po­tini in The Dark Horse and Je­sus in the res­ur­rec­tion drama Risen.

The for­mer he con­sid­ers “my best work”; the lat­ter was a “life­long wish” since his days as an al­tar boy.

Cur­tis’s TV se­ries Fear the Walk­ing Dead, then, is the cherry on top: “It’s an in­cred­i­ble amount of fun.”

Set in Los An­ge­les at the out­break of the zom­bie apoca­lypse, Fear the Walk­ing Dead is a pre­quel to the hugely suc­cess­ful The Walk­ing Dead. As the lit­tle sis­ter of a beloved se­ries, Fear faced much cyn­i­cism when it pre­miered last year.

“The first sea­son was all: What are these guys do­ing? The first show is this, the first show is that … Who are these guys?” Cur­tis re­calls.

“There were a lot of com­par­isons. But now the sec­ond sea­son, I don’t think that’s go­ing to hap­pen.

“It’s a real page-turner, to­tally dif­fer­ent from the first. We’re our own show and I don’t think we need to be com­pared to any­thing else. I’m very, very ex­cited by what we’re do­ing.”

Sea­son one was more slow­burn­ing dys­func­tional fam­ily drama than ac­tion/hor­ror, but closed with Cur­tis’s char­ac­ter Travis Manawa fi­nally get­ting blood on his hands.

Cur­tis says that was Travis “cross­ing a line” and he’d like to see him get even more “bad ass” from here on.

He’s still got a while to go, with Fear shoot­ing through un­til June.

When Cur­tis con­firms Switched On is call­ing from Aus­tralia, he prac­ti­cally yells, “I’m work­ing with Aly­cia on the show” — re­fer­ring to young Syd­ney ac­tor Aly­cia Deb­namCarey, who plays the daugh­ter of Travis’s girl­friend. Be­cause it used to be such a rar­ity, he still gets ex­cited at hav­ing another Aus­tralasian on set.

“I re­mem­ber when I first came over to Hol­ly­wood, my man­ager was the man­ager of Ni­cole Kid­man, Si­mon Baker and Naomi Watts,” he says.

“I was the Kiwi — there weren’t a lot of Ki­wis in town.

“But now they’re ev­ery­where. You can’t go to a cafe with­out bump­ing into a Kiwi or an Aussie.”

FEAR THE WALK­ING DEAD, FX, MON­DAY 1.30PM AND 8.30PM

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