author, co­me­dian & artist

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - In­ter­view by STEPHANIE SQUADRITO Anh’s Brush With Fame re­turns 8pm Wed­nes­day, April 12, on ABC TV.

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.


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