All the luck of the Irish
With standout roles in and giving her fabulous exposure last year, Aussie TV star Diana Glenn is finding she’s landing some of the most coveted jobs in the biz, writes Guy Davis
‘‘ I TEND to like things with a bit more darkness,’’ says Diana Glenn. ‘‘ It’s just the way I’m wired.’’ If that’s the case, the grey area was good to Glenn in 2011. Already wellknown and respected for her starring roles in Satisfaction and Carla Cametti, P. D., she stood out in two of the year’s most acclaimed Australian productions: Killing Time and The Slap.
Her performance as Sandi, the abused wife of Harry ( Alex Dimitriades) in The Slap, gained her an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award nomination.
Bringing a bold combination of fragility, strength and compassion to complex characters is becoming a trademark of Glenn’s work, but the role she’s filming opposite Guy Pearce in the ABC telemovie Jack Irish: Black Tide has given her a chance to lighten up a little.
Between takes on this production, Glenn took a few minutes to talk about what she calls her ‘‘ lovely year’’. Q: Congratulations on everything that happened in 2011. A: It’s an accidental kind of success. The Slap was filmed at the start of the year, but Killing Time was done so long ago and now everything seems to have come out at once.
I’m so glad Killing Time is finally being seen. I really wanted to be part of The Slap since I first read the script and now I’m filming this, so I’m getting some really lovely jobs. And to have a nomination makes me feel quite lucky and scared. I’m not used to things going so well. Something terrible has to happen soon, right? Q: Looking back at your performances as Denise Fraser in Killing Time and Sandi in The Slap, does anything stand out – any aspects, any traits or qualities the characters shared? A: They’re definitely different people and the decisions they make are different, but Denise and Sandi put up with a lot more than a lot of women would.
I’ve found in my own life that it’s very easy to think about what you would do in a certain situation, to take a very blackand- white view as to how you would behave, but when it happens, you never know what you’re going to do.
I do know Denise loved that man. She said that to me when we met. The love between Denise and Andrew [ Fraser, disgraced Australian lawyer] was really strong and genuine, even after everything that has happened.
Something she said to me, and it was a really great hook into playing the character, was that she was terrified because part of her knew she shouldn’t get involved with him but she loved him so much she just ran down the aisle. ‘‘ Nothing could stop me,’’ she said.
And then thinking about Sandi, you think about the compromises and negotiations that occur in a shared life. Q: Portraying those complexities, does it make you a stronger, more sensitive actress? A: For me, the beautiful thing about The Slap is that the character’s flaws were never hidden. It was never shied away from. It was brave enough to show you everything. When you’re allowed to do that, you’ll be surprised at how much an audience or a readership or what have you, will forgive. You may think I’d never be friends with that person or ‘ This is wrong, this is right’ but you do find compassion. I love it when you get the opportunity as an actor to show all sides.
And we can’t be afraid to think the audience isn’t going to love a character because they’re not perfect. The beauty of television right now is that it’s not afraid to show that ugly side. Audiences still care about those characters. Q: Given that then, your character of Lyall in the Jack Irish telemovie seems a little lighter than your usual fare. A: Lyall has got a lot more front than some of my other characters but at the same time she’s a bit more mysterious, and I just hope I’ve made her seem a bit mysterious because I tend to be an open book. What I’m liking about these Jack Irish stories is there’s this beautiful comic element to these crime stories, a wry way of looking at the world. And the way Guy is playing Jack, as this kind of dishevelled and reluctant hero, sets a lovely, left- of- centre tone.