Feeling right at home
Why Brett Climo’s return to TV is his biggest career milestone
BRETT Climo has an anger problem. But unlike Russell Crowe or Christian Bale, Climo’s problem is that he’s a little bit too nice. As sensitive landowner George Bligh on hit drama A Place to Call Home he’s regularly called upon to yell at Noni Hazlehurst, who plays Blighdynasty matriarch Elizabeth.
“That’s part of my acting repertoire that isn’t all that well-honed,” he says. “I find it very hard to get angry. Which I’m not proud of, it means quite often I feel like I’m not performing well enough in those scenes. (Noni) will actually sit me down and try and help me find the anger.”
But Hazlehurst’s attempts to help may only make it harder for Climo to unleash his full fury “because I do like her so much”, he laughs.
“Recently I said, ‘I’m just really looking forward to a scene where we can be nice!’ ”
Climo, 49, has been a familiar face on Australian TV since his debut as Peter Healy in Sons and Daughters back in 1983. Since then he’s appeared in much-loved shows including A Country Practice, GP, The Flying Doctors and Blue Heelers.
A few years ago the roles dried up. Climo endured a five-year stretch interspersed with the occasional telemovie ( Mystery of a Hansom Cab and Underbelly Files: Tell Them Lucifer Was Here).
Unable to work in the profession that had defined his place in the world for so long, the dark feelings began to mount. “I was becoming angry with the lack of interest from the industry,” he says.
“When I was young I used to sit in green rooms and watch older actors get quite negative and quite cynical about the industry and I always thought to myself, ‘But it’s your choice to do this’.
“I didn’t want to turn into that person.”
His wife sat him down and delivered a few home truths. He realised he was more than just an out-of-work actor – he was also a husband, a son, a friend and an uncle. He took a job in the building industry and began to adjust.
And on his return to TV, he had a whole new attitude.
“I promised myself I would never complain about the early starts or the hard work – because it’s not hard work, it’s a luxury, it’s a joy to work as an actor,” he says.
APTCH became last year’s biggest new drama with an average audience of 1.4 million. A sort of antipodean Downton Abbey, it’s an out-and-out melodrama with lush production values (at $1.5 million an episode it’s one of the most expensive local series screening).
“Even though the audience have embraced it, a lot of people in the industry simply don’t understand what we were trying to achieve,” he says.
APTCH is a milestone for Climo: it’s the first time he’s been 100 per cent proud of a series he’s in. “I’ve not experienced this feeling before of being part of something so successful but also something I’m really proud of,” he says.
“It’s the first show my Dad has been able to watch because normally he’s a glued-on ABC, BBC, SBS viewer!” he laughs.
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
SUNDAY, 8.30PM, SEVEN