Fish out of water plucked for lead role
Elias Anton was thrown in at the deep end when he was picked to play Danny Kelly (right) in Barracuda. The teen, who is also juggling his HSC, was plucked from obscurity for the lead role in the ABC swim drama.
Director Robert Connolly ( The Slap, Gallipoli) auditioned more than 100 young actors for Danny and called Anton back four times before he gave him the part.
The actor had to have the right physique, be believable as a potential Olympic champion swimmer, and be able to age convincingly from teens to early twenties.
There was also the gruelling filming schedule to consider. Danny is in every scene but two of the four-hour miniseries which is based on Christos Tsiolkas’ ( The Slap) bestseller.
Connolly took a risk and chose newcomer Anton because “he’s an amazingly instinctual actor”. Olympic silver medallist Nicole Livingstone was hired as Anton’s swim coach. Greg Saunders ( Glitch) was drama coach.
“It’s a massive role,” Connolly says. “Elias not only has to swim to Olympic standard but go on this huge emotional journey. I was looking for authenticity.”
Danny is consumed with becoming a champion Olympic swimmer. When he is awarded a scholarship to an elite private school and the chance to be trained by renowned coach Frank Torma (Matt Nable) it looks like his dream is coming true.
But Danny is of Greek descent and a middle class upbringing and struggles to fit into this new world of Anglo wealth and privilege.
Team champ Martin Taylor (Benjamin Kindon) belittles Danny. Frank’s coaching is severe. Danny’s truck driver dad Neal (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor) resents his son’s achievements.
And Danny’s mum Stephanie (Victoria Haralabidou) is treated with disdain by the snobbish swim mums, particularly Samantha Taylor (Rachel Griffiths).
Anton saw parallels between controversial Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios and Danny which he used to shape the character.
“Danny doesn’t talk much. It’s more about what’s going on inside his head.
“Being accepted in a rich area when you’re not rich, going to a school where you’re one of the few Greek boys, and being gay when everyone’s straight — there are a lot of problems going on.”
BARRACUDA, ABC, SUNDAY, 8.40PM