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Todd La­sance sheds s Spar­ta­cus and Summer Bay for sol­dier in AN­ZAC Girls

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

HE’S been a mus­cle-bound Cae­sar in Spar­ta­cus: War of the Damned, a homi­cide cop in Un­der­belly and a Co­manchero in Bikie Wars: Broth­ers in Arms, but off screen Todd La­sance admits to ter­ri­ble nerves and doubt.

The first day the for­mer Home and Away star stepped on to the New Zealand set of Spar­ta­cus – his first big Amer­i­can TV project – he was sick with anx­i­ety.

“I did feel like vom­it­ing with nerves, but I al­ways get that, I’m al­ways doubt­ing my­self, doubt­ing what I’m do­ing: ‘Am I go­ing to be able to pull this off ?’; ‘Holy crap I’m play­ing Cae­sar and every­one’s go­ing to see through me!’” the 29-year-old says.

But it couldn’t have gone bet­ter, with the third and fi­nal sea­son pulling six mil­lion view­ers a week on US ca­ble TV and talk of a spinoff. Un­for­tu­nately for La­sance, showrun­ner Steven S. DeKnight had al­ready de­cided to pull the pin be­fore his episodes even aired.

“It was lit­er­ally at its peak in num­bers and re­views when he dropped it,” he says. “He was re­ally cau­tious about not drag­ging it out and let­ting it lose num­bers.”

Two months ago La­sance packed up his life and headed to Los An­ge­les to cap­i­talise on his grow­ing recog­ni­tion.

Be­fore that, he threw heart and soul into ABC mini-se­ries AN­ZAC Girls, need­ing lit­tle coax­ing to join the show, shot late last year.

La­sance plays Ma­jor Sydney Cook, the son of a for­mer prime min­is­ter and hus­band of Sis­ter Elsie Cook (Laura Brent) – one of the five mil­i­tary nurses around whom the drama is built.

Their mar­riage is com­pli­cated by the fact nurses weren’t al­lowed to serve if they were mar­ried.

Based on the book The Other An­zacs, AN­ZAC Girls marks the 100th an­niver­sary of the con­flict with the un­told story of the 3500 Aus­tralian and New Zealand nurses who served at Gal­lipoli and the Western Front.

“I read it and just fell in love with it,” La­sance says. “I was sold within days.”

La­sance has long been fas­ci­nated by the world wars, spurred in part by his grand­fa­ther who fought in World War II. La­sance’s Twit­ter feed has a photo of him proudly wear­ing Gran­dad’s medals on An­zac Day this year.

“There was a sense of pride play­ing a char­ac­ter and rep­re­sent­ing what our soldiers faced and then the ef­fects it had af­ter the war, so I couldn’t fault it; it was just the per­fect role,” he says.

But the quick turn­around meant the first time he spent more than a few min­utes with Brent was the night be­fore the shoot.

“We pretty much got a com­bined time of about five hours to es­tab­lish this life­long con­nec­tion,” he says.

“But it was good, we had to leap to­gether and hope it comes across on screen.”

With a flood of film and TV projects mark­ing the cen­te­nary of the con­flict, what sep­a­rates AN­ZAC Girls from the pack?

“I think it’s go­ing to be the most re­al­is­tic de­pic­tion so far and a fresh per­spec­tive on some­thing that had a mas­sive im­pact on our his­tory,” La­sance says. “Peo­ple for­get or over­look the ex­pe­ri­ences these women had. This story needs to be told.”

Mean­while, in mod­ern-day LA, La­sance has been a job­bing ac­tor be­fore, but this time hopes to pick up more sub­stan­tial roles than “Frat Boy#2” in rom-com Fool’s Gold.

He says the fans of Spar­ta­cus are “hard­core”.

“It’s not: “Oh, I catch it ev­ery now and then’, they’ve watched the whole thing and can quote all the lines!” he says.

But even with a big show on his re­sume, the au­di­tion process is tough.

“It’s re­ally cut­throat – you’re go­ing for some mas­sive projects,” he says.

“Some­times … you do hours and hours of prep and lit­er­ally have 90 sec­onds to prove your worth.

“It’s pretty har­row­ing. A lot of peo­ple crum­ble from the nerves and I feel that pres­sure a lot as well.”

For­tu­nately, he’s sur­rounded by a com­mu­nity of like­minded Aussies, in­clud­ing half the for­mer cast of Home­and Away, with Luke Mitchell, Re­becca Breeds, Kain O’Ke­effe and var­i­ous Hemsworth broth­ers in town. He’s also good mates with Chris­tian An­ti­dormi from Spar­ta­cus. “It’s a cool lit­tle Aussie com­mu­nity ac­tu­ally,” he says.

AN­ZAC GIRLS 8.30PM, SUN­DAY, ABC

MA­JOR ROLE: Todd La­sance plays Ma­jor Sydney Cook in ANZACGirls. Pic­ture: PETER BREWBEVAN/ SNAP­PER ME­DIA

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