Life after death
WILLIAM Mcinnes is trying his hardest to be jovial. He cracks jokes, calls me ‘‘ old cock’’ a lot and does a rather neat impersonation of Ray Winstone.
But today it seems a little forced, as if he’s going through the motions.
It’s been a trying time for the Seachange and Blue Heelers actor since he lost his wife, much- loved filmmaker Sarah Watt, to cancer in November. As he talks about facing life without her, he begins to open up.
‘‘ It’s an odd feeling of being abandoned and marooned, but it’s no one’s fault and it’s just a new way of living your life,’’ he says. ‘‘ That can be terribly hard to comprehend, especially when it’s sort of public.
‘‘ It’s not that you don’t laugh or you stop having fun or enjoying life, you just know something’s not quite right. Sometimes it’s just too hard and you can’t deal with it and you just feel like jumping in a hole.’’
Mcinnes and Watt married two decades ago when he was an unemployed actor with poor prospects. They had two children, Clem, now 18, and Stella, 13, and settled into a comfortable family life in Footscray, in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
It was during post- production on Watt’s acclaimed Look Both Ways, in which Mcinnes starred, that Watt was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Having thought she’d beaten the disease, it returned as secondary, terminal bone cancer soon after the release of My Year Without Sex in 2009. Mcinnes is as philosophical as you can be, given the circumstances.
‘‘ There are lots of people who go through these sorts of things and it’s not anyone’s special cross to bear,’’ he says.
‘‘ I know one thing – lots of people bang on about heroes as the sort of people who’ve got their portraits hanging in galleries, but you know what? When you’re facing a serious life- threatening, or terminal illness, those people are courageous beyond belief.’’
Although Mcinnes could be forgiven for disappearing from public life, he’s actually busier than ever. His new series Auction Room, which is produced in Tasmania, begins on ABC1 tonight.
It was Watt who encouraged him to take the Auction Room hosting job when it was offered last year. ‘‘ Sarah said ‘ yeah, go on it’d be fun’,’’ he says. ‘‘ I think she just wanted me out of the house.’’
The series looks at the human drama and stories surrounding people compelled to sell off their cherished possessions. Mcinnes calls it ‘‘ entertainment with a brain’’ and the people featured include everyone from Elvis impersonators flogging off memorabilia, to people in high society auctioning off antiques.
‘‘ It’s like a pleasant half hour of television,’’ Mcinnes says. ‘‘ It’s one of those shows where you can kick off your shoes, sit back and meet some nice, funny folk.’’