author, comedian & artist
Anh Do talks politics, painting and partnering with Russell Crowe.
Early last year, Russell Crowe signed a contract to turn your book, The Happiest Refugee, into a movie. When are we going to see that happen? We’re working on a screenplay at the moment. It’ll happen when it happens. What’s exciting about it is we’re going to hold auditions for a little six-year-old Vietnamese kid to play me, and he has to have a wonky head and really big teeth. But I’m considering playing the lead, which is the role of my father. That would be an amazing experience. The only thing is my dad was about 50 kilos when he came out [to Australia] on that boat, and I’m about 87. So no more Krispy Kremes for me. In your book, you share the story of your journey to Australia from Vietnam. Do you think that has influenced your view on life? Yes. We spent five days at sea [on the boat to Australia]. We were attacked by pirates and ran out of food and water and we came very close to dying. So my mum reminds us that we were lucky enough to survive that trip and the universe gave us another chance. What do you think about the resurgence of One Nation and Pauline Hanson? Look, I’m actually considering starting my own political party and calling it One Asian. So we’ll see how that goes… As a child, you struggled to fit in and your family was quite poor. You have four children now; do you think they have it easy? Yeah, definitely. That’s a very interesting conundrum. Someone once asked me if I could change anything in my life, what would I change? And I said that I wouldn’t change a thing because all those tough times made me who I am. But I’m not about to give my kids a difficult childhood, so I don’t know how to resolve that. I take them out to do a lot of charity work, so I hope that does something… but who knows? When your TV series Anh’s Brush With Fame was first announced, it seemed like a surprising departure from comedy for you. What turned you onto painting? Painting was always something I thought I’d do once I retired. But then, about five or six years ago, a good mate passed away suddenly at the age of 50 and it made me realise that if I put off doing stuff until I retire, I might not ever get there. So I took six months off and I went to TAFE to study painting in 2013. You use palette knives instead of paintbrushes – where did you learn that technique? When I was at uni [studying law], I spent a year working at a cheesecake shop for some extra cash. Then when I went to TAFE, they said you can use brushes or you can use these things. And I went, oh man, I’ll use these things because I’d already used them before to decorate cakes. You’ve finished filming season two of your series. Which guest really
“I’m actually considering starting my own political party and calling it One Asian”
stood out to you? Anthony Field really blew me away. It shocked me. We know Anthony as the Blue Wiggle, the blue skivvy, always smiling, loads of energy. But he has suffered through depression and has thought about suicide a lot and still battles it. Touring with The Wiggles, he worked himself so hard that he lost teeth; they just fell out. So, a lot of Anthony’s grin is fake and he revealed that on the show. Your guests often talk about being lucky to be Australian. Do you feel lucky to be Australian? Oh, yes! Very much. I think we’re all lucky just to be alive, to wake up. I live across from a cemetery and I can see it out of my kitchen window. I’d always planned to plant a big tree to block the view, but after I talked to [neurosurgeon] Dr Charlie Teo [in the first season of Anh’s Brush With Fame], I changed my mind. I’m going to leave that view there. Every time I look out the window and I see those gravestones, I think about how one day I’m going to be there, so I’m going to make the most out of today while I’m still above the ground. And also, I found out that big trees are really expensive. Your career seems somewhat unpredictable. What do you think will be next for you? I think I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. If I switch one more time people will go, “What’s with this guy?” I’ve got to admit I do have a short attention span, so that’s probably contributed to why I do so many different things. I’m just trying to stop myself from getting bored. Will we see you open a cheesecake shop anytime soon? Nah, that was hard work, man. You have got to get there really early. You’ve actually got to work. What I do isn’t work. I take the kids to school, I muck around a little bit in the studio and I try to finish a painting before three o’clock so I can go and pick up the kids. That’s my glamorous day.
``ALL THOSE TOUGH TIMES MADE ME WHO I AM´´