Why Aus­tralia — and now Italy — loves Anh Do

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

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.”



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