Driv­ing force

Matt Le Nevez hopes new Ten minis­eries Brock will not only do jus­tice to the rac­ing leg­end but bring his legacy to a whole new gen­er­a­tion, writes HOLLY BYRNES

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

IF “Peter Per­fect” was an im­pos­si­ble nick­name for the late mo­tor­sport cham­pion Peter Brock to live up to, try be­ing Matt Le Nevez.

The ac­tor, charged with play­ing one of Aus­tralia’s most iconic and com­pli­cated sports­men, is only too aware of the mes­sianic love Holden fans still have for the brash kid from the back blocks of coun­try Vic­to­ria who would dom­i­nate car rac­ing for close to four decades.

As a kid, Le Nevez was – and still is, on the other side of play­ing the man in Ten’s hotly an­tic­i­pated minis­eries

Brock – as pas­sion­ate about his love for “Brockie” as the hordes he sank beers with on Bathurst’s famed Mt Panorama track this time last year in prepa­ra­tion for the role.

“I re­mem­ber the first time I asked a mate of mine if he was [a fan of] Holden or Ford and he said, ‘Ford’ – I al­most wanted to punch him in the face,” Le Nevez says.

Grow­ing up out­side Can­berra, the 37-year-old

Off­spring star says he saw the spark of pos­si­bil­ity for his am­bi­tions in the re­mark­able feats of Brock.

With ev­ery che­quered flag, ev­ery record-break­ing vic­tory – in­clud­ing his un­beaten record of nine wins at Bathurst – Brock would em­bolden a gen­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing Le Nevez, to chase their dreams.

“I know a lot of mo­tor­sport fans are go­ing to watch this be­cause Brockie was such an icon, but I re­ally want this to tran­scend not only just mo­tor­sport and sport; I re­ally want this to touch an­other gen­er­a­tion of young Aus­tralians who might not know who he is,” Le Nevez says.

“They’ll learn about a man who is com­plex and was not only an amaz­ing car rac­ing driver but a man who fol­lowed his dreams.

“That’s what this story is about … [it’s] about a man who, no mat­ter what, backed his heart.”

To its credit, the En­de­mol Shine pro­duc­tion has not shied away from the com­plex­i­ties of the man, open­ing episode one with Brock as a reck­less 20-yearold who, with 100 races in ru­ral Vic­to­ria un­der his belt, was anointed by famed rac­ing man­ager Harry Firth to join the big time.

“When you’re mak­ing a series that starts when he’s 20 and goes all the way through to his 60s in the sec­ond episode, it’s a life well lived,” Le Nevez says.

“There’s go­ing to be a lot of con­tra­dic­tions and a huge amount of pas­sion squeezed into such a short time, re­ally. He was all that … he was a rock star.”

Just as note­wor­thy as his per­for­mances on the track were Brock’s con­tro­ver­sial re­la­tion­ships off it – from do­mes­tic abuse claims by his sec­ond wife Michelle Downes to the af­fair with his mate’s wife Julie Bam­ford, which would dev­as­tate his long-term love Bev Brock and wreak havoc even af­ter his death through a bit­ter court bat­tle over his es­tate.

Le Nevez un­der­stands the anx­i­ety the fam­ily has ex­pressed over the minis­eries, but says he hopes “they can see be­yond the smaller things to the greater mes­sage – and that is, we’re try­ing to keep the Brock name alive”.

“I know it will be re­ally hard for them to watch – they might not even watch it – but I want to share his legacy with more peo­ple and keep his spirit alive in that way,” he says.

BROCK PRE­MIERES TONIGHT AT 8.30PM ON WIN; AND CON­TIN­UES ON MON­DAY AT 9PM

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