WITH PRIDE

Play­ing leg­endary Aus­tralian cin­e­matog­ra­pher Damien Parer has given ac­tor Matthew Le Nevez a huge sense of pride in the worth­while project

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV -

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.

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