THE WIDE BLUE YON­DER

Sean Keenan’s move from kid­die TV star to Pu­berty Blues pin-up

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

DON’T think it’s just the teenage girls swoon­ing over ac­tor Sean Keenan.

His al­lure to the high school mar­ket is ob­vi­ous: the surfy blond locks, the pierc­ing blue eyes and an ef­fort­lessly cool life In­sta­grammed al­most daily to his 76,000 (and count­ing) fol­low­ers.

Pu­berty Blues au­thor Kathy Lette re­cently con­fessed her ob­ses­sion with the 21-year-old to the Twit­ter­sphere, gush­ing: “Is it wrong to be swim­ming through a pool of my own drool ev­ery time Gary comes on screen?” in ref­er­ence to his char­ac­ter Gary Hennessy.

Hav­ing co-cre­ated the orig­i­nal novel and screen­play which in­spired the Chan­nel 10 se­ries in which Keenan plays Hennessy, a good guy try­ing to keep him­self on the straight and nar­row, Lette an­swered her own ques­tion of pro­pri­ety with a fol­low-up quip: “Pag­ing Dr Freud to re­cep­tion.”

Adding to his like­abil­ity, the Bus­sel­ton-raised Keenan is coy about the fe­male at­ten­tion he has at­tracted since scor­ing his first dra­matic adult role.

“I think they’re in love with the char­ac­ter more than they’re in love with me,” he says. “But if they can see that good guy in him and some of that crosses over to me, well, that’s not a bad thing.”

Pu­berty Blues (the movie) played a part in his tran­si­tion from boy to man, his mother screen­ing the iconic comin­gof-age film to Keenan and his twin sis­ter Lily.

Af­ter get­ting his first big act­ing break as the lead on chil­dren’s TV drama Lockie

Leonard and then a stint on ABC3’s Dance Academy, Keenan felt ready to take on more adult roles when the chance to au­di­tion for Ten’s

Pu­berty Blues se­ries arose. “With the first sea­son, I’d just taken a year off work­ing to fin­ish year 12 and (I did it) as a kind of sep­a­ra­tion from the kids TV while I was still go­ing through pu­berty my­self,” he says.

“I turned 18 and was able to drink, then I moved across to Syd­ney, all be­fore I got the part. I had a bit of time liv­ing by my­self and I thought that was prob­a­bly one of the big­gest steps in pre­par­ing for the part be­cause I was be­com­ing an adult … so I had plenty I could draw on.”

Keenan was im­me­di­ately chal­lenged by the role of Hennessy, who in the first sea­son strug­gled with stand­ing up to his dom­i­neer­ing fa­ther Fer­ris (Rodger Corser) while des­per­ate to pro­tect his cowed mother Yvonne (Su­san Prior).

There’s been ro­mance too, ex­plor­ing the joys of first love with Deb­bie Vick­ers (Ash­leigh Cum­mings), while also ter­ri­fy­ing par­ents in the au­di­ence with his drug ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

Work­ing along­side more ex­pe­ri­enced ac­tors such as Clau­dia Kar­van, Dan Wylie and Corser, Keenan says he’s ma­tured enough to use his place op­po­site them as an act­ing mas­ter class.

“When I was younger, I’d go to work and get wrapped up in the ex­cite­ment and I didn’t take as much time to maybe look and draw from the more ex­pe­ri­enced ac­tors around me,” he says.

“The cast now, (which) I’m lucky enough to work with, is just amaz­ing. I re­ally made sure I paid at­ten­tion and you take so much away.”

Af­ter walk­ing out on his fam­ily in sea­son one, Gary’s fa­ther re­turned this year claim­ing to be a changed man. But the truth – and the fa­ther/son es­trange­ment – bub­bles pow­er­fully be­low the sur­face.

Keenan says Corser kept him at arm’s length last year but they’ve worked more closely on their on-screen dy­namic.

“I don’t know if he meant to do it or not, but I felt like he didn’t quite let me in … it helped in a way that he’s quite in­tim­i­dat­ing and I felt that in real life,” Keenan says.

“But this sea­son we got to a point where we had the free­dom to ex­plore and do more and we both did. It gives you goose­bumps, you feel like (their re­la­tion­ship) is go­ing to im­plode at any mo­ment.”

Pic­ture: Bob Barker

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