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
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