Mad, but in a good way.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - writes Neala John­son

NO fam­ily is nor­mal. That’s one of the key points rammed home by the aptly ti­tled Men­tal and the film’s star, An­thony LaPaglia, couldn’t agree more.

‘‘ They all have their own idio­syn­cra­sies. In fact, if you put a mag­ni­fy­ing glass on any­one, you’ll find some­thing that makes them look a lit­tle nutty. Hey, they do it pro­fes­sion­ally in the States!’’ shouts LaPaglia, who has lived and worked in LA since the 1980s.

‘‘ There’s been a few cases where quite cred­i­ble peo­ple are sud­denly be­ing por­trayed in the press as lu­natics be­cause they’re touch­ing on some­thing some­body doesn’t like.

‘‘ It’s very easy to start zoom­ing in on some­body’s ec­cen­tric­i­ties.’’ And what should we zoom in on with LaPaglia?

‘‘ It’s up to you, you’ll have to find it,’’ he smiles. ‘‘ I’m not go­ing to help you.’’

Men­tal is writer/ di­rec­tor P. J. Ho­gan’s first re­turn to Aus­tralia and Toni Col­lette since

Muriel’s Wed­ding.

It was also a re­turn of sorts for LaPaglia who, af­ter re­leas­ing

Bal­ibo to great ac­claim locally, took a two- year break from act­ing.

The break was a kind of re­cov­ery for the 53- year- old af­ter an eight- sea­son stint on TV drama

With­out a Trace.

With a sheep­ish grin, LaPaglia ad­mits it was a rude shock go­ing back to work. ‘‘ I en­joyed re­tire­ment . . . a lit­tle too much.’’

He has since whipped through sev­eral projects, in­clud­ing the Aussie TV drama ( from Bal­ibo di­rec­tor Robert Con­nolly) and

Un­der­ground, about Ju­lian As­sange, which screens Sun­day here on TDT.

But that job re­sulted in him bail­ing on a small part in Quentin Tarantino’s much- hyped Django

Un­chained af­ter con­stant de­lays on the movie forced him to choose be­tween the two.

‘‘ This is not un­com­mon by the way,’’ LaPaglia says. ‘‘ The list of ac­tors that had to drop out of that film – Kevin Cost­ner, Kurt Rus­sell, Joseph Gor­don- Le­vitt – is just end­less be­cause of the sched­ul­ing prob­lems. ‘‘ That’s just the way it goes.’’ In Men­tal LaPaglia plays a small- town mayor who has ne­glected his wife and daugh­ters to the point he barely knows their names. When his wife ( Re­becca Gib­ney) is sent to a men­tal hospi­tal, he is forced to re- con­nect with the kids.

Over din­ner, he tells his daugh­ters he wouldn’t have so many prob­lems if he’d had boys.

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