Why Australia — and now Italy — loves Anh Do
ANH Do’s philosophy in life isn’t for the faint of heart.
Inspired by the resilience and courage of his refugee father Tam – who captained a small fishing boat of 40 people, fleeing Vietnam for Australia in 1980 – Do often poses himself a simple but confronting question when considering new projects or challenges.
“I ask myself: ‘If I fail, are 40 people going to die, including my wife and young children?’ If the answer is ‘no’, then let’s move forward and have a crack’,” he says.
That attitude has connected Do to local audiences and made his travel series a surprising hit. His infectious enthusiasm and energy are apparent from the opening credits – and within minutes, so too the risk – of his latest adventure Anh Does Italy.
Throwing himself into day one of filming, taking on locals in a game of bubble soccer (competitors wear an inflatable body suit), the rugby league fanatic was blindsided in a tackle and ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.
“The producer said, ‘Look, mate, we can go home. It’s your call’,” he says. “But I thought, we’ve come all this way and I’ve got all this fun stuff coming up, so I said, ‘Hit me with the painkillers’.”
Days later, he was literally back on the horse: “Tearing down a bumpy field on these dodgy antique chariots, at lightning speed and holding on with one leg,” he says.
“The horse has turned the corner and I’m thinking I’m going to fly off here. I’m bracing for the fall but I just hang on by my fingertips.”
Challenging himself is all part of the appeal for the 38-year-old, whose personal credits include bestselling author [his autobiography, The Happiest Refugee was a smashhit upon release in 2011 and his children’s book series Weirdo sells like hot cakes]; actor [he got his break in the acclaimed SeaChange but is best known as Chen Chong Fat in SBS comedy series Pizza]; and artist [he was a finalist in last year’s Archibald portrait prize].
Getting up close to the works of European masters such as Da Vinci and Caravaggio on his latest TV trip was a life moment, he says.
“You go to Florence and all the paintings you’ve seen in books are there,” Do says. “To see them in real life, it just blows your mind.”
ANH DOES ITALY
TUESDAY, 7.30PM, AND THURSDAY, 8PM, SEVEN