DNA Magazine - - CONTENT #209 -

DNA: Con­grat­u­la­tions on the Best New Tal­ent Logie win. You had good odds, though, be­ing nom­i­nated for two awards. Rob Collins:

Yes, for the Gra­ham Kennedy Award as well. My Cleverman co-star Hunter Page-Lochard and I de­cided we’d be happy if at least one of us took away an award. So I’m happy with that.

For those who don’t know, can you ex­plain the con­cept of Cleverman?

It’s set in a fu­tur­is­tic, dystopian world where there’s a group of peo­ple called “the hairies” who are rounded up by a big-brother style gov­ern­ment. But cen­tral to that is a Cain and Abel story of two broth­ers, Waruu, who I play, and Koen, played by Hunter Page-Lochard. Be­cause he’s the old­est, Waruu be­lieves that the man­tle of “the Cleverman”, who is like a leader of men and en­dowed with spe­cial pow­ers, be­longs to him. But it goes to Koen, which causes ri­valry through­out the se­ries.

Can you tell us where your char­ac­ter, Waruu is headed this sea­son?

At the end of last sea­son, Waruu had be­come com­pletely iso­lated from any sort of com­mu­nity he was in­volved with, in­clud­ing his fam­ily and the peo­ple of The Zone. When we meet him again he’s ac­tively try­ing to re­build. If he can’t be the Cleverman then he’s go­ing to do the next best thing, which is align him­self with some­one with power and re­sources.

Cleverman has an eighty per­cent In­dige­nous Aus­tralian cast, and has earned in­ter­na­tional praise. As an In­dige­nous ac­tor, what does this mean for you?

I’m in­cred­i­bly proud. I’m proud of a lot of my work, but there’s some­thing re­ally spe­cial about telling a par­tic­u­lar In­dige­nous story in

this new, ex­cit­ing way, and hav­ing In­dige­nous peo­ple such as the creators, de­sign­ers and set di­rec­tors be­ing in­volved. For me as an ac­tor, it sort of el­e­vates the project and it feels like one I want to get right. I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to tell th­ese sto­ries in the best way I can. Do you think that act­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for In­dige­nous Aus­tralians have im­proved over the past cou­ple of years? I don’t know about that. It cer­tainly feels like we’re head­ing in the right di­rec­tion and it’s ab­so­lutely pos­i­tive, but I think more needs to be done. I’m im­pa­tient by na­ture so I’m hop­ing shows like

Cleverman will help us get a real move on in terms of work­ing to­wards a vi­brant In­dige­nous film­mak­ing com­mu­nity in Aus­tralia; one that doesn’t nec­ces­sar­ily sit out­side of the main­stream but be­comes part and par­cel of it to the point where it’s not con­sid­ered a cliché or a nov­elty. In some ways, that state­ment also mir­rors the gay com­mu­nity’s feel­ings. Ab­so­lutely. Cleverman has themes that par­al­lel the present, par­tic­u­larly around out­siders fac­ing ad­ver­sity. Can you see how it would ap­peal to the LGBTI com­mu­nity? Yes, as it’s es­sen­tially a story about be­ing true to your­self, and be­ing who you are. Waruu is on that jour­ney. I think those par­al­lels are what made it an in­ter­na­tional suc­cess. It has uni­ver­sal themes that a lot of peo­ple can re­late to, par­tic­u­larly with marginalis­ed groups. Aside from the so­cial im­pact, it’s also a dra­matic and com­pelling story. You have some in­ter­na­tional ac­tors on Cleverman, in­clud­ing Iain Glen from Game Of Thrones, who plays Slade. Are you a fan of that show? Oh, yes, and I re­cently brought my­self up to date. I’m very fa­mil­iar with Game Of Thrones and Jo­rah’s greyscale dis­ease, which I hope he over­comes! I hope Waruu doesn’t con­tract it! [Laugh­ing] I’ve joked about that my­self on set with Iain and Hunter. Iain is such a great pres­ence to have and he’s got a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence. Hav­ing some­one of his cal­i­bre, along with Frances O’Connor who plays Char­lotte, is fan­tas­tic for the pro­duc­tion. Not only are they bril­liant ac­tors in their own right, but they’ve helped open it up to the in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence. Iain is also very hand­some. Oh, Iain is very dap­per! I’ve trawled the in­ter­net for old pho­tos of him and, wow, he’s a very good­look­ing older man but he was a sen­sa­tional look­ing younger man, too. You have a great role as Jack, the celebrity chef, on The Wrong Girl. What’s that ex­pe­ri­ence like? It’s a fan­tas­tic pro­gram to be on and un­like any­thing I’ve done be­fore. I had all th­ese ideas about what a net­work gig might be like, but it was such an eye-opener. It’s full of won­der­fully tal­ented peo­ple in­clud­ing Jes­sica Marais who is just a con­stant, beam­ing lady and, of course, the lovely Ian Mead­ows. Even be­tween takes it’s fun to be on set, in­clud­ing days where we delve into the more dra­matic scenes. It was al­ways light and en­joy­able and I’ve made a num­ber of re­ally good friends. How do you find swap­ping from a heavy char­ac­ter in one se­ries to a more fun char­ac­ter in the other? It hasn’t been too much of a chal­lenge. I’ve learned to dial-down cer­tain as­pects of my­self and turn oth­ers up. Ev­ery­one, not just ac­tors, has ac­cess to a range of emo­tions. We can all be sad, happy, jeal­ous, en­raged, be­lit­tled or in love. Have you ever played a gay role? Yes. When I was study­ing drama at NIDA, I did a play called Colder by Lach­lan Philpott. I played op­po­site Joel Jack­son who later went on to be in

Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door. We were in the same year at NIDA and it was such a won­der­ful piece. I’d love to do a gay role again be­cause you can take on dif­fer­ent lives, pre­tend­ing to be other peo­ple who come in all shades of the rain­bow. Do you have gay fam­ily mem­bers? I do, with the trans­gen­der Tiwi Sis­ter­girls, who had their first Mardi Gras this year. They’re from the Tiwi Is­lands, and we are all re­lated! You’re very good-look­ing. Do you ever get hit on by men? I get hit on by men more than I do by women! And I have to say, in those mo­ments, I turn into a bit of a f lirt. Any at­ten­tion is good at­ten­tion! Hav­ing stud­ied at NIDA, what ad­vice would you give to any­one want­ing to do the same? Never lose sight of your­self. It’s an en­vi­ron­ment where you are forced to strip away old bad habits and for a lot of peo­ple, my­self in­cluded, a large part of your iden­tity. That in­cludes the way you see your­self and the things that you do, and how you move and sound, in a very me­thod­i­cal way. There’s this idea that you need to be some­one else, when re­ally ‘you’ are enough. We’re in the busi­ness of trans­for­ma­tion, but in or­der to do that well, you first have to have a good idea of who you are and stay true to that. Who has cham­pi­oned your ca­reer? Without a doubt, my fam­ily. Not only do they shape who I am and what I be­lieve, they’re al­ways there back­ing me. Hav­ing that base has made me bolder in my choices as an artist be­cause no mat­ter what the chal­lenge I know they’ll al­ways be there. This is our fash­ion is­sue. Do you have a favourite look? I love cooler weather be­cause I love wear­ing a nice coat. One of my most trea­sured pos­ses­sions is a Zara char­coal coat that I picked up at a Salvos store Mel­bourne. I think I paid twenty-five bucks for it! What about un­der­wear? Box­ers have com­fort and sup­port, and you can wear them to bed and then walk around the lounge room feel­ing in­of­fen­sive – just in case the moth­erin-law is there! So no free­balling? Never!


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