Hany spreads his wings

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES -

ANY day now, Don Hany – star of East West 101 and Off­spring – will know whether the pi­lot he made for US TV, War­riors, is picked up as a se­ries.

If the show about doc­tors in a mil­i­tary hospi­tal for vet­er­ans gets the green light, his con­tract stip­u­lates it could rule the next seven years of his act­ing life.

“It goes into the lot­tery, like ev­ery other one,” Hany said, damp­en­ing ex­pec­ta­tions.

“They make lit­er­ally hun­dreds of them and they pick a hand­ful. So the chances of it com­ing to fruition are pretty slim.”

Should he win the lot­tery and head State­side, the 38- year- old has left us with plenty to go on with at home.

Last year’s ABC/ HBO Asia co- pro­duc­tion Seran­goon Road was quickly fol­lowed by ABC TV movie The Bro­ken Shore. Fox­tel minis­eries Devil’s Play­ground – a timely look in­side the lo­cal Catholic Church’s cor­ri­dors of power as it faces abuse al­le­ga­tions – will air in the next few months.

And Heal­ing, the sec­ond fi lm in Hany’s 15- year ca­reer, is spread­ing its wings in cin­e­mas.

By di­rec­tor Craig Mon­a­han, whose 1998 fi lm The In­ter­view ate up ev­ery AFI award in sight, Heal­ing is in­spired by a real prison re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram in Vic­to­ria in which pris­on­ers helped nurse in­jured birds of prey back to health.

Hany prac­ti­cally signed on be­fore read­ing the script.

“I was ex­cited about the team that was as­sem­bling,” he said of the cast that in­cluded Hugo Weav­ing, Jus­tine Clarke, Mark Leonard Win­ter and Xavier Sa­muel, plus Os­car- win­ning di­rec­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy Andrew Les­nie.

He also liked the ob­vi­ous metaphor the movie pre­sented: “It was a study in how hu­mans and birds re­spond in re­ally sim­i­lar ways to be­ing caged.”

Hany plays Vik­tor, a prison vet­eran who other in­mates are both scared of and prone to pro­vok­ing.

An Ira­nian whose drunken mis­take lost him his fam­ily, he’s near­ing the end of his sen­tence but is in no way pre­pared for the out­side world.

The cor­rec­tions team con­sider him a lost cause un­til one offi cer ( Weav­ing) takes the over­flow from the nearby Healesville Sanc­tu­ary and makes the in­mates re­spon­si­ble for re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing in­jured birds.

Hany aged up to play Vik­tor and used fam­ily links to learn to speak some Farsi for the role.

His Mid­dle East­ern lin­eage is Iraqi, not Ira­nian, and he said his back­ground had never been a hin­drance to his ca­reer in Aus­tralia.

“I owe ev­ery­thing to hav­ing one foot in and one foot out. So many char­ac­ters I’ve por­trayed have been caught be­tween worlds,” he said.

“And in North Amer­ica, I’m just an all- Amer­i­can guy. There’s so much colour­blind cast­ing go­ing on over there – the dis­cus­sion about your back­ground is way down the pri­or­ity list. It’s re­fresh­ing.

“Maybe Aus­tralians take ad­van­tage of that more than any­one else be­cause, cul­tur­ally, we’re a bit of a blank page in­ter­na­tion­ally … ev­ery­one’s from some­where else.”

The avian ex­perts on Heal­ing said Hany was quick to get com­fort­able han­dling the three wedge- tailed ea­gles that played Vik­tor’s bird.

Per­haps he got a lit­tle too com­fort­able – end­ing up in hospi­tal late in the shoot.

“I hap­pened to be talk­ing about how cool the ea­gles were to work with and how re­laxed I was around them when it hap­pened,” Hany laughed.

“Gra­cie, the old­est of the three ea­gles, was stand­ing on my glove and we were both taken by sur­prise by a lit­tle gust of wind. She scram­bled, try­ing to fi nd a grip, and in the melee I copped a stray talon.

“It bled a bit … I don’t think I re­ally needed to go to hospi­tal,” he added, point­ing to a spot un­der his eye.

In fact, it ap­pears Hany’s hu­man co- star Weav­ing left a more in­deli­ble im­pres­sion.

“He in­tro­duced me to a phi­los­o­phy about work­ing that has changed what I will take to ev­ery job from now on,” he said.

“He’s such a fan of Aus­tralian cin­ema and a be­liever in mak­ing some­thing that res­onates – you couldn’t help but be en­er­gised by that.”

HEAL­ING Now show­ing at the State Cin­ema

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