Playing legendary Australian cinematographer Damien Parer has given actor Matthew Le Nevez a huge sense of pride in the worthwhile project
This is as far removed from playing Offspring’s hearthrob Dr Patrick Reid as you could imagine. Matthew Le Nevez, whose 2013 screen death as Patrick had a profoundly sad impact on viewers, is getting down and dirty in Queensland scrub as he goes about playing legendary Australian cinematographer Damien Parer.
Le Nevez, beads of sweat streaming down his face and camera in hand, is standing in the shadow of a tree, trying to take cover from a punishingly hot afternoon sun.
When the director of Parer’s War asks for quiet on the set, Le Nevez straightens his back. An extraordinary transformation takes place as he dissolves into character to tackle an earsplitting battle scene.
When he hears “action’’, Le Nevez navigates his way through sand dunes, intent of capturing the essence of Parer – putting his life on the line to capture the true horror of World War II.
“I have seen the final cut and I’m really proud of the work we've done in telling this story,” Le Nevez says on the phone from Los Angeles.
“It’s great, it’s beautiful. The ending is just so heartbreaking – the grief portrayed by Adelaide Clemens (who plays Parer’s wife Marie) is incredible.”
This story about Parer, a man renowned for his hoot of a laugh, begins in 1942.
Darwin has been bombed and the 29-year-old is filming Aussie troops as they fight the Japanese on the deadly razorback ridges of New Guinea.
And he won’t rest until he makes the film that will shake Australia out of its complacency by illustrating the full horror of war is on its doorstep.
His film, Kokoda Front Line, produced by the legendary Ken Hall, is a smash hit and the first Australian film to win an Oscar.
Success in Parer’s private life, however, is proving elusive. He’s torn between two worlds – feeling at ease with his camera on the battlefields but struggling to make an emotional connection with Marie. He can’t bear the thought of marrying her, then becoming a burden if he returns maimed from an assignment.
“I think this is really important because the Parer story is lost on a lot of my generation,” Le Nevez says.
“He had this fear of being wounded, losing a limb, and becoming a burden and really battled with that. It really scared him. But he also lived with this goal to make the greatest film possible about war. I spent time in New Guinea and read dozens of books about Kokoda to make sure I did everything I could to understand the story we were telling.”
In 10 years, Le Nevez has stamped himself as one of Australia’s most versatile, intuitive actors. He first came to notice as the character Bullet Sheather in the John Doyle miniseriesMarking Time. He then stunned audiences with his portrayal of killer Matthew Wales in Society Murders, which showed in horrific detail how Wales bludgeoned to death his mother Margaret Wales-King and stepfather Paul King in 2002.
Le Nevez, a NIDA graduate, impressed producers when he auditioned for the Wales role. With his buzz cut and piercing, almond-shaped eyes, he had a haunting physical resemblance to Wales. But he also nailed every subversive impulse under Wales’ blank exterior.
Le Nevez, a handy cricketer, followed up with the dream role of paceman Dennis Lillee in toprating miniseries Howzat.
Now, on the back of a fine body of work, Le Nevez is “chasing jobs and auditions” in Los Angeles, where he shares a house with girlfriend, Michelle.
Le Nevez has no intention of sacrificing worthwhile projects in Australia for the sake of “bit parts” in the US.
“I will be back home soon and hope to be doing something in Australia mid-year.”
ABC1, Sunday, 8.30pm eteran Hollywood actor Beau Bridges will take working on Broadway any day over performing in front of a live studio audience.
The septuagenarian plays father Tom Miller in the new comedy which starts on Channel 10 on Sunday.
Bridges' character leaves Carol (Margo Martindale), his wife of 43 years, to live with his daughter. Carol in turn moves in with their son Nathan (Nelson Franklin) who has split from his wife.
a family broken up like a cheap Easter egg, is filmed in front of a live studio audience, which has proved very challenging for Bridges.
He says that despite working in the industry for more than 60 years, he has only once before worked in front of a live audience for a TV show.
And that was more than a decade ago in a guest role on the comedy
“What's unique for me is that it's a multi-camera show in front of a live audience,” Bridges says. “As an actor, it makes you use every tool.”
The Emmy, Golden Globe and Grammy Award-winning actor compared the live studio taping to his time on Broadway in 2012.
“We had weeks and weeks of rehearsal to perform in front of a live audience,” he says. “On this, you have four days to get ready to put it on.”
“To make things harder, lines are often rewritten at a moment's notice when a punchline bombs, meaning you can never be sure of a one-take scene.”
was created by Greg Garcia, who was also behind the hit comedy series
in which Bridges had a recurring role as Earl's father Carl Hickey.
premieres on Sunday, 7pm on Channel 10.