Television: Cliffy role no walk in the park ..................
Kevin Harrington perfects the Cliff Young shuffle in a new telemovie, writes
CTOR Kevin Harrington became so fixated with playing Aussie sporting hero Cliff Young he went beyond his commitment of losing 10kg for the role.
Harrington shed almost double that to play the Victorian potato farmer who became a household name in 1983 after winning the gruelling Sydney to Melbourne ultra marathon aged 61.
Clifford won the the 875km race in five days, 15 hours and four minutes, claiming that his pre-race preparation included running for 2-3 days straight rounding up sheep in gumboots.
The first thing Harrington did to lose weight was cut out bread. Then he started walking, up to two hours at a time, running and riding an exercise bike.
In all, Harrington took four months to drop the weight necessary to play Young in the ABC1 telemovie Cliffy, which airs on May 26.
Not since he played Lewis Moran in the original Underbelly in 2008 has Harrington’s weight been an issue.
On that occasion, Harrington had to add 5kg to his medium-sized frame to play the criminal. Adding weight is a lot more enjoyable, quicker and easier than shedding it, Harrington says. Even after he dropped several clothes sizes, Harrington was still not convinced he had lost enough weight to represent how lean Young was.
‘‘I committed to lose 10kg. After I had done that reasonably swiftly, I thought that I’d lose another five and ended up losing 17kg. But he (Young) was skeletal and I reckon that I’d have to lose another 10kg if I wanted to get right down to his shape.’’
Losing weight was just one aspect of Harrington’s preparation for the role. He also spent hours perfecting the veteran’s unique shuffle-like running style with one of the Sydney to Melbourne ultra marathon organisers, Martin Noonan.
Noonan filmed Harrington in motion and then critiqued the actor’s style and changes that needed to be made to perfect the ‘‘Cliff Young shuffle’’.
‘‘We worked on the action in a step-by-step process and he gave me feedback on how to get it accurate,’’ Harrington says.
‘‘You have to sit a bit lower when you’re running so your thighs and bum muscles are doing more work and your knees and ankles aren’t.’’
Harrington also also spoke with Young’s surviving brother Sid about their lifestyle and upbringing.
‘‘I spoke to his young brother, who is 90 now, and what I got was that Cliffy appreciated the beauty of nature and the environment,’’ he says.
‘‘That’s why he enjoyed running so much.’’
– DARREN CARTWRIGHT
Cliffy: Sunday, 8.30pm, ABC1
Kevin Harrington stars in