Home­grown HOT­TIE

Life’s good for this Aussie ac­tor but there is still the ques­tion of find­ing bal­ance, writes Shan­non Mol­loy

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - CELEB STYLE -

I t’s the early 1990s and a young Rodger Corser has just taken to the stage in a sim­ple pub in Mel­bourne’s north­east­ern sub­urbs. With a mop of hair, tight jeans and a smoul­der­ing smirk, the young front­man of en­er­getic band Ten­der Prey belts out a rock bal­lad that has the mod­est crowd cheer­ing. And so be­gins his road to star­dom. More than two decades later, he’s re­garded as one of the big­gest stars on Aus­tralian tele­vi­sion.

Corser, who cur­rently leads Nine’s hit drama Doc­tor Doc­tor, didn’t plan on be­ing an ac­tor.

“I was in­ter­ested in film and TV so I did a de­gree in me­dia stud­ies but I fig­ured I’d end up be­hind the cam­era,” the 43-year-old re­calls. “That was the plan. And mu­sic.” Then Corser beat 6000 other hope­fuls in an open cast­ing call for the lead role in the na­tional tour of the mu­si­cal Rent.

Its 1998 sea­sons in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne were hugely suc­cess­ful and pro­pelled him on to the radar of small-screen pro­duc­ers: “I got an agent and started do­ing bits and pieces and the rest, as they say, is history.”

From soaps to po­lice pro­ce­du­rals and crit­i­cally ac­claimed dra­mas, Corser has fronted a long list of hit se­ries since his de­but in 2000.

His lat­est role is as Hugh Knight, a bril­liant but trou­bled heart sur­geon from Syd­ney who finds him­self liv­ing back in his ru­ral home town af­ter a spec­tac­u­lar fall from grace.

The hard-par­ty­ing, wom­an­is­ing doc­tor with a se­ri­ous God com­plex be­lieves he’s in­vin­ci­ble, which causes him no end of trou­ble.

“I was re­ally in­ter­ested in that at­ti­tude. Th­ese guys lit­er­ally have peo­ple’s lives in their hands so it’s no won­der some wind up a bit like Hugh,’’ he says. “Not all of them. We’re not im­ply­ing it’s ev­ery­one at all, let me be clear. Some doc­tors came af­ter us on so­cial me­dia a lit­tle bit.

“But in those high-end med­i­cal fields you might see a young sur­geon liv­ing over in Bondi in a flash apart­ment who hasn’t set­tled down and is kick­ing around, liv­ing the high life.

“When you do some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary at a level not many oth­ers reach, like surgery, it’s easy to be­gin be­liev­ing your own bull­shit.’’

Corser says it can be sim­i­lar for artists: “There’s bravado, for sure, but there’s also a lot of in­se­cu­rity. It’s a dou­ble-edged sword.

“In my pro­fes­sion, you can have peo­ple who are very con­fi­dent, and maybe rightly so, but there are many who con­stantly bat­tle a lack of con­fi­dence and in­se­cu­rity about whether they are do­ing a good job. You’re per­form­ing all the time, if you think about it. Whether it’s an au­di­tion, on cam­era, do­ing an in­ter­view like this, go­ing on ra­dio to pro­mote a show, some­thing like that, it’s a per­for­mance.

“It’s like hid­ing be­hind a false bravado and then it’s fin­ished and it’s like, phew.” D oc­tor Doc­tor brought some feel­ings of anx­i­ety, Corser ad­mits. It doesn’t mat­ter how long he does this job, the nerves are ever-present. But, as he points out, the face of the show en­joys dizzy­ing highs dur­ing suc­cess and the lion’s share of blame in the event of fail­ure: “The pres­sure is on a bit more. You want it to go again. Ob­vi­ously you do with any pro­ject, but when you’re the cen­tral char­ac­ter you don’t want peo­ple to think you can’t carry a show.”

Thank­fully Corser and the rest of the cast don’t need to worry about that. A few weeks into this sea­son, Nine con­firmed it had com­mis­sioned a sec­ond in­stal­ment for 2017.

It took the pres­sure off and re­sulted in a rar­ity for an ac­tor — know­ing what he’s up to next year, with pro­duc­tion due to start mid-year.

“I’ve been stopped on the street for this show more than any other I’ve done, and I’m not just say­ing that. It’s re­ally res­onated,” he says.

But such is the na­ture of Aus­tralian TV that Corser will prob­a­bly fit in other projects that come up, for love and for money.

“More and more, it’s short-run shows. Back in the day, not long ago ac­tu­ally, sea­sons would have three, some­times four times the num­ber of episodes that they do now,’’ he says.

“Rush wasn’t that long ago and we were do­ing 22 episodes. One of those a year and you don’t need any­thing else. Six parts, you’ve got to find more work.”

On the plus side, shorter shows means more air­time to fill and Corser be­lieves TV lately has more va­ri­ety than ever. “There’s a lot of stuff around,” he says. “Just look at what I’ve done lately — pro­ce­du­rals that maybe skew a bit older, like

Pic­ture: Justin Lloyd

Doc­tor, Doc­tor star Rodger Corser (main), with wife R enae Berry (above) and with the Doc­tor, Doc­tor cast (be­low). Cover photo: Corser, wear­ing a Her­ring­bone suit with Saba shir t and Brando shoes, re­lax es at the hip de­signer ho­tel, QT Syd­ney.

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