Doors are wide open for Tim Minchin, who’s very much in de­mand with act­ing, di­rect­ing and mu­sic-writ­ing roles all on the go

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY | TV - AN­DREW FEN­TON

Tim Minchin takes on his first ma­jor dra­matic role as a mur­der­ous racist in the ABC’s The Se­cret River, about the con­flict be­tween early set­tlers and Australia’s in­dige­nous in­hab­i­tants.

Minchin is also di­rect­ing Dream­works an­i­ma­tion Lar­rikins, he wrote the mu­sic for mu­si­cal Matilda (open­ing in July in Syd­ney) and is do­ing the same for Ground­hog Day, which opens on Broad­way in 2017.

An­drew Fen­ton spoke to him on the set at Lake Ty­ers in Vic­to­ria mid last year.

Did suc­cess as a co­me­dian open up doors that had been closed?

To­tally. They were all closed in 2004 and by 2009 they were all open, re­ally. This is the first job where a direc­tor rang me up and said I just want you to play this role, you’re go­ing to be great at it.

Why did they want you for this role?

(Direc­tor Daina Reid) had this idea that she wanted my char­ac­ter, who does some un­pleas­ant things, she didn’t want to cast some­one who was “evil” be­cause that’s not very in­ter­est­ing es­pe­cially when you’re try­ing to tell a story as se­ri­ous as this. The more you make him hu­man ... the stronger the story will be.

Why is there a closed set to­day?

Well, I was nude this morn­ing but in a very joc­u­lar way be­cause he’s just feral. The scene this af­ter­noon … there are im­pli­ca­tions of vi­o­lence but I don’t act (it out), I just talk about it, with this (in­dige­nous) girl I’ve got chained up in a dis­gust­ing man­ner, so it’s in­cred­i­bly con­fronting be­cause she’s plead­ing for her free­dom.

Why take a role play­ing such a hor­ri­ble per­son?

Peo­ple like play­ing he­roes be­cause they’re ac­tors and they want their ca­reers to go a cer­tain way. My en­tire modus operandi in my ca­reer is to keep mov­ing so that peo­ple are un­able to pin me down. I’ve been work­ing for the past few years to prove that co­me­dian is not nec­es­sar­ily a par­tic­u­larly help­ful la­bel for me.

Are you plan­ning on pur­su­ing act­ing?

I’m sort of a failed ac­tor. Be­fore my com­edy re­ally took off, I’d done a cou­ple of roles but not much. I did Cal­i­for­ni­ca­tion, which was def­i­nitely a comic role and I felt very com­fort­able in that but I don’t think of my­self as wacky. So when I got to LA, I did an au­di­tion for Judd Apa­tow for an Amy Schumer movie ( Train­wreck) as the funny weird of­fice guy and I was hope­less, I just didn’t know how to attack it. I had no idea and I just went, I’m not go­ing to do that any­more. I’m not go­ing to do the quirky bit on the side roles.

Why did you move to LA?

I’m mak­ing an an­i­mated, singing-an­i­mal, Aus­tralian road movie for Dream­works. Which I went on just as the com­poser and just had a lot of thoughts about it and they liked my thoughts so I’m di­rect­ing it.

The Se­cret River, ABC, Sun­day, 8.30pm


Pic­ture: ABC

Tim Minchin stars as Smasher in The Se­cret River minis­eries.

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