Shedding good-guy image
Lapaglia gets in touch with badness for his new show, writes
ARARE chance to play the hunted and not the hunter drew Jonathan LaPaglia into accepting a lead role in Underbelly: Badness. LaPaglia is mostly known for his good-guy roles – he’s played a detective, lieutenant, a special agent, an ex-CIA operative and an exNavy SEAL on US television.
Rarely has the Adelaide native had an opportunity to portray a character on the wrong side of the law.
So being asked to play underworld figure Anthony ‘‘Badness’’ Perish in the latest Underbelly instalment was enough incentive for LaPaglia to sign on.
‘‘They had me audition for the cop role and then a month later they came back and asked me how I felt about playing the bad guy,’’ LaPaglia says.
‘‘I was kind of torn to be honest . . . but in the end I fell on the bad guy’s side because I hadn’t played one for so long.’’
LaPaglia’s TV acting career started in 1996 when he played detective Tommy McNamara in New York Undercover. Yet in all that time he only ever made one Australian production, The Slap, before he recently started shooting Underbelly in Sydney.
‘‘The appeal of coming home to work in Australia had a lot to do with (accepting the role) too,’’ says LaPaglia.
‘‘To be able to shoot in Sydney, it doesn’t get much better than that.’’
LaPaglia lives in LA with his wife Ursula Brooks and their daughter Tilly, close to his older brother Anthony. He says he regularly catches up with Anthony when they are both at home, between jobs or not on location.
Before heading to the US in the midnineties to study acting, LaPaglia gained a medicine degree and worked in an emergency room at an Adelaide hospital.
‘‘My desire was to keep the two going, acting and medicine, and I have my medical boards for the States,’’ he says.
Despite having not worked in medicine for more than 15 years and compiling an impressive showreel, his parents somehow overlook his acting career.
‘‘My parents still introduce me as the doctor,’’ he says.
‘‘Both of my parents are European so in their world, being doctor is second to God and I don’t think actor gets on the list.’’
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