Profile Nathan Page
The former top cyclist talks about the ride that has taken him to a dream role as detective Jack Robinson, who slowly reveals his layers of personality, writes Debbie Schipp.
MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES Friday, 8.30pm, ABC1
AS Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, he played the stitched-up straight man to the irrepressible and flirty Phryne Fisher in the first series of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
But Nathan Page (pictured), who plays the unwavering detective, says this season expect a less uptight Jack Robinson. And he hints that maybe the frisson of attraction between Jack and Phryne might veer closer to fact than fiction.
‘‘It’s hard for them to consummate anything. They have obstacles put in front of them, which often means they can’t move forward, but it also strengthens their relationship,’’ says Page, 40, of the link between the glamorous lady detective played by Essie Davis and his leading man. ‘‘One thing about Jack. He’s a slow-burner.’’ Season one of the popular ABC period crime drama saw Jack slowly come to terms with the fact the feisty female detective, who kept popping up at his crime scenes, wasn’t going away.
Her investigative methods offended his play-it-by-the-book sensibilities, but going into season two, he’s come to terms with having to work with her. Sometimes, he almost enjoys it.
For Page, a second season in which his character’s moral code is challenged with every investigation is a gift.
It’s that slow development that Page, a former national level cyclist-turned-actor, with a string of Aussie dramas (among them Paper Giants,
Underbelly, Wicked Love and Redfern Now) to his credit, cherishes.
‘‘I’m not sure if in Australian television we are good at keeping our cards close to our chest character-wise, but with this show we’ve been slowly able to open the characters up in the second season,’’ he says.
‘‘He understands that she’s the one who does work outside the law, and that’s beneficial, as long as he turns a blind eye at times.’’
Whether Jack can remain blind to the fact that his interest in Phryne is more than professional is something Page refuses to be drawn on.
‘‘I can’t give too much away, but perhaps there are feelings there he wouldn’t want to admit.’’
He’s far more effusive about what happens between takes, when he can drop the reserve and enjoy the fact he’s working with Davis.
‘‘We had worked together briefly on stage before Miss Fisher, and we are good mates,’’ he says.
‘‘With her role there’s lots of pressure and fatigue – she’s in so many scenes – so you have to keep the energy up and be good mates.
‘‘There’s a lot of laughing between takes, which gets us into a lot of trouble. And the later and further behind we get, the worse it gets.’’
When he wants to release steam off set, Page returns to his love of cycling.
More than 13 years ago, Page turned to acting after a career as a world-class road cyclist and open road racer.
He shrugs that he left the sport rather than consider joining the doping that was taking place at the top level.
‘‘It was the (Lance) Armstrong era,’’ says the former AIS athlete.
‘‘You kind of knew what was going on but you didn’t really want to believe it.
‘‘But there was a point where you either, well, you would have submitted and joined them or you didn’t and walked away. Because there really wasn’t an opportunity to continue if everyone else was doing it.’’ He took up acting because it scared him. ‘‘I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to be 50 and think, ‘I never tried anything else’,’’ he says.
‘‘I was acutely aware that if you don’t scare yourself when you’re young, you never will. So I thought, ‘What will scare me that I know nothing about?’’’
He tried a drama class, which terrified him, and more than a decade on is in regular acting work.
He still jumps aboard the bike most days to blow away the cobwebs.
‘‘I tap it out to keep myself fit and keep my head level,’’ Page says.