Feel­ing at home

De­spite the con­stant call of Hol­ly­wood, Rachel Grif­fiths is back for an­other Aussie TV se­ries. By COLIN VICKERY

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

COM­ING home can be good for the soul. This is true on a per­sonal level, but what about pro­fes­sion­ally?

For ac­tor Rachel Grif­fiths, it seems keep­ing one foot in her home camp, as well as her Amer­i­can one, con­tin­ues to rein­vig­o­rate her ca­reer.

De­spite re­main­ing in de­mand in Hol­ly­wood – where she is cur­rently film­ing her lat­est big-bud­get TV project along­side Guy Pearce and Mary Louise Parker – the vet­eran per­former re­turned to Aus­tralia for an­other lo­cal project. This time it was for hotly an­tic­i­pated drama Bar­racuda, the small-screen adap­ta­tion of the best-sell­ing novel of the same name from Chris­tos Tsi­olkas (The Slap).

The ABC se­ries cen­tres on Danny Kelly, a tal­ented teenage swim­mer who has an ob­ses­sion with win­ning and a deep fear of los­ing.

Grif­fiths plays snooty well-to-do mother Samantha Tay­lor, whose son Martin is a school­boy swim­ming cham­pion and Danny’s ri­val.

“I ab­so­lutely loved the book,” Grif­fiths says of why she ac­cepted the role. “It also helped that I love the pro­duc­ers and the di­rec­tor, Robert Con­nolly, too.”

It is the lat­est lo­cal pro­duc­tion to fit among Grif­fiths’ for­eign en­deav­ours, and one of her six roles across TV and film due out this year, with an­other two slated for 2017.

“I’ve had an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in Hol­ly­wood and I’ve worked with some in­cred­i­ble peo­ple,” she says.

“I’ve only ever been em­pow­ered and cel­e­brated and re­warded.”

De­spite that, com­ing home – whether for work or to “chill out” – is a fre­quent ac­tiv­ity, one which many have cred­ited with be­ing be­hind her lat­est string of suc­cess­ful jobs.

While Grif­fiths was a big catch for the drama, it was the first act­ing role for the star of the se­ries.

Elias An­ton is the young rookie ac­tor cho­sen to play Danny, and he ad­mits it was a dif­fi­cult part to grasp.

“He has a lot of doubt,” An­ton says of his char­ac­ter. “There’s so­cial class … he’s Greek and there are these posh white boys, so he’s a fish out of wa­ter. He’s at a new school. They’re more pop­u­lar and con­fi­dent.”

An­ton had to con­vinc­ingly swim at an Olympic level.

“I did swim­ming train­ing when I was a kid and my brother has been a swim teacher,” he says.

“We had [Olympic sil­ver medal­list] Ni­cole Liv­ing­stone and [dual Olympian] Ken­rick Monk and some of the other swim­mers avail­able to train me up. I was go­ing to swim train­ing three or four days a week be­fore we started shoot­ing. I had to get my form right.”

The dom­i­nant theme is pur­suit of ath­letic ex­cel­lence and the sac­ri­fices it re­quires, but An­ton says that’s all un­der­pinned by his char­ac­ter’s deep yearn­ing for ac­cep­tance.

“Be­ing ac­cepted in a rich area when you’re not rich, go­ing to a school where you’re one of the very few Greek boys, be­ing gay when ev­ery­one’s straight … there’s a lot of stuff go­ing on,” he says.

Ac­claimed ac­tor Matt Nable plays the revered swim coach at the school where Danny lands a schol­ar­ship.

He’s an im­mi­grant and for­mer young champ who’s de­ter­mined to get the best out of his boys.

“He com­mands re­spect but he’s also got a sense of hu­mour,” Nable says. “He’s a hard­liner but he has a good heart. He’s look­ing for a cham­pion … he recog­nises Danny’s tal­ent and he takes a punt.”

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