At your service
Todd Lasance stars in new ANZAC mini- series
HE’S been a muscle- bound Caesar in Spartacus: War of the Damned, a homicide cop in Underbelly and a Comanchero in Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms, but off screen Todd Lasance admits to terrible nerves and doubt.
The fi rst day the former Home and Away star stepped on to the New Zealand set of Spartacus – his fi rst big American TV project – he was sick with anxiety.
“I did feel like vomiting with nerves, but I always get that, I’m always doubting myself, doubting what I’m doing: ‘ Am I going to be able to pull this off?’; ‘ Holy crap I’m playing Caesar and everyone’s going to see through me!’” the 29- year- old says.
But it couldn’t have gone better, with the third and fi nal season pulling six million viewers a week on US cable TV and talk of a spin- off.
Unfortunately for Lasance, showrunner Steven S DeKnight had already decided to pull the pin before his episodes even aired.
“It was literally at its peak in numbers and reviews when he dropped it,” Lasance says.
“He was really cautious about not dragging it out and letting it lose numbers.”
Two months ago, Lasance packed up his life and headed to Los Angeles to capitalise on his growing recognition. But before that, he threw his heart and soul into ABC mini- series ANZAC Girls, needing little coaxing to join the show, shot late last year.
Lasance plays Major Sydney Cook, the son of a former prime minister and husband of Sister Elsie Cook ( Laura Brent) – one of the fi ve military nurses around whom the drama is built.
Their marriage is complicated by the fact nurses weren’t allowed to serve if they were married.
Based on the book The Other Anzacs, ANZAC Girls marks the 100th anniversary of the confl ict with the untold story of the 3500 Australian and New Zealand nurses who served at Gallipoli and the Western Front.
“I read it and just fell in love with it,” Lasance says. “I was sold within days.”
Lasance has long been fascinated by the world wars, spurred in part by his grandfather, who fought in World War II. Lasance’s Twitter feed has a photo of him proudly wearing Grandad’s medals on Anzac Day this year.
“There was a sense of pride playing a character and representing what our soldiers faced and then the effects it had after the war, so I couldn’t fault it; it was just the perfect role,” he says.
But the quick turnaround meant the fi rst time he spent more than a few minutes with Brent was the night before the shoot.
“We pretty much got a combined time of about fi ve hours to establish this lifelong connection,” he says.
“But it was good, we had to leap together and hope it comes across on screen.”
With a fl ood of fi lm and TV projects marking the centenary of the confl ict, what separates ANZAC Girls from the pack?
“I think it’s going to be the most realistic depiction so far and a fresh perspective on something that had a massive impact on our history,” Lasance says.
“People forget or overlook the experiences these women had. This story needs to be told.”
Meanwhile, in modern- day LA, Lasance has been a jobbing actor before, but this time hopes to pick up more substantial roles than “Frat Boy# 2” in rom- com Fool’s Gold.
He says the fans of Spartacus are “hardcore”.
“It’s not: “Oh, I catch it every now and then’, they’ve watched the whole thing and can quote all the lines,” he says.
But even with a big show on his resume, the audition process is tough.
“It’s really cutthroat – you’re going for some massive projects,” he says.
“Sometimes … you do hours and hours of prep and literally have 90 seconds to prove your worth.
“It’s pretty harrowing. A lot of people crumble from the nerves and I feel that pressure a lot as well.”
Fortunately, he’s surrounded by a community of like- minded Aussies, including half the former cast of Home and Away, with Luke Mitchell, Rebecca Breeds, Kain O’Keeffe and various Hemsworth brothers in town.
He’s also good mates with Christian Antidormi from Spartacus.
“It’s a cool little Aussie community actually,” he says.