BEST IN SHOW

Even his 800 Words co-stars agree Rick Don­ald steals ev­ery scene

Herald Sun - Switched On - - FRONT PAGE -

When Bri­die Carter’s fam­ily sit down to watch 800 Words to­gether ev­ery Tues­day night, there’s one per­son they’re all desperate to see on screen — and it’s not some­one in the house­hold.

“My kids (Otis, 11 and To­bias, 6) love the show and their favourite char­ac­ter is Woody,” she says. “He adds this beau­ti­ful, ridicu­lous other di­men­sion to the show.”

And the Carter fam­ily aren’t the ones who share the same sen­ti­ment.

While Erik Thom­son is the head­liner of the pop­u­lar fam­ily drama, it is the comic re­lief to his straight man char­ac­ter Ge­orge who dom­i­nates.

Rick Don­ald’s layabout car­pen­ter Woody swiftly be­came a fan favourite in sea­son one. So much so that for sea­son two the writers be­gan flesh­ing out the char­ac­ter, giv­ing him a love in­ter­est (in Emma Leonard’s Tracey) and show­ing more of his life out­side his work for the Turn­ers.

It’s some­thing Don­ald is en­joy­ing as the se­ries heads to­wards it’s mid-sea­son fi­nale.

“You def­i­nitely get to see a lit­tle bit more of the three di­men­sions of Woody,” he says of what’s ahead.

“He has a lit­tle bit of a scare later in the sea­son. And the love in­ter­est comes into play.

“I al­ways thought, how will they ever find some­one for Woody? He sleeps in a van, he surfs 90 per cent of the day and then does about 10 per cent work — which he never re­ally col­lects money for. He’s just happy to be paid lunch. They’re not high on the list of things women are look­ing for.” While Don­ald cer­tainly mir­rors the happy go lucky side of the char­ac­ter he plays on­screen, one thing he doesn’t share is a lack of work ethic. The ac­tor has worked solidly on TV since land­ing a role in 2011 minis­eries Pa­per Gi­ants: The Birth Of Cleo, star­ring Asher Ked­die as magazine maven Ita But­trose. Roles in Home and Away, Un­der­belly and Crown­ies fol­lowed be­fore he landed the part of Con­sta­ble Daniel Parks in hit ABC se­ries The Doc­tor Blake Mys­ter­ies. “It was my first big sort of re­cur­ring role and I was ner­vous,” he re­calls of join­ing the A-list cast. “I didn’t want to put a foot wrong and I wanted to make sure I was sat­is­fy­ing the show, the writers, the di­rec­tors and ev­ery­thing, so I wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily us­ing my in­stinct as much. “And Na­dine Gar­ner (who stars in the show) could see it. She was awe­some for me. She’d say, ‘I can see you think­ing — just do what it is you’re think­ing. I can see your mind is rac­ing and you want to do some­thing cheeky, just do it.’ She re­ally showed me that it was OK to have some fun on set.”

It’s a les­son he’s taken with him and run with and his ca­reer has flour­ished as a re­sult. Roles in House Hus­bands, A Place to Call Home and short-lived US com­edy Friends With Bet­ter Lives fol­lowed be­fore he joined the cast of 800 Words.

But even though the work of­fers are still com­ing thick and fast, Don­ald isn’t con­tent to rest on those lau­rels.

While many of his cast mates will use the down­time be­tween scenes to spend time with their fam­i­lies or each other, Don­ald chooses to con­cen­trate on ex­tend­ing his skill set.

“I’m re­ally try­ing to get be­hind the cam­era a lit­tle bit in terms of di­rect­ing and film mak­ing,” he says.

“I’ve shot a cou­ple of things — I en­tered a film into Tropfest and won a cou­ple of awards. And I’m writ­ing a lot. I’ve been try­ing to get bet­ter at that so I can write my­self and my friends some more roles for the fu­ture.

“Learn­ing to write, it’s tor­tur­ous at times. You might write five good pages and 50 ter­ri­ble ones and then you go back and scratch your head and start again.

“It’s some­thing you’ve got to be pas­sion­ate about and want to do be­cause it is in­cred­i­bly tire­some.”

Not only has Don­ald now writ­ten roles now for him­self and fel­low 800 Words co-star Ben­son Jack An­thony (who plays Arlo), he’s also man­aged to pen a few thing for his nowwife, Cather­ine Mack.

The duo re­cently wed in a small pri­vate cer­e­mony, only made pub­lic af­ter a tourist hap­pened to snap their vow ex­change. While the cer­e­mony was top se­cret, what’s not so hid­den is Don­ald’s ad­mi­ra­tion for his ac­tor bride.

So has he asked the 800 Words pro­duc­ers to write her into the se­ries?

“I haven’t, but she’s per­fect for the style and she’s re­ally fun so I reckon she’d be good. And she’s over here (in New Zealand, where the show shoots) a lot so it would be easy for them to slot her in.” 800 WORDS, SEVEN, TUES­DAY, 8.45PM

“I en­tered a film into Tropfest and won a cou­ple of awards”

RICK DON­ALD ON CA­REER CHANGES

In real life, Rick Don­ald be­lies the layabout life of his char­ac­ter in 800 Words.

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