Interview by SASKIA TILLERS
t has been nearly two decades since Adam Garcia seduced the world – or, at the very least, a generation of young moviegoers – by hopping on a bar and stripping off his shirt for a cheeky dance in the 2000 film Coyote Ugly. The Australian actor and dancer had already become a mainstay on the stages of London’s West End by that point, but the surprise hit made Garcia a wanted man in Hollywood, where he tooled around and starred opposite the likes of Drew Barrymore and Lindsay Lohan before swapping scripts for dance shoes, which remained his first love. More roles in the UK and on Broadway soon followed, as did a marriage and two children. Now, he’s making a return to Australian screens with a new role on the Seven Network’s reality competition Dance Boss. Ahead of the show’s premiere, the 45-year- old chatted to Stellar about family, fame, and why he’s actually quite content with forever being known as that shirtless Australian shaking his hips in one of cinema’s most famous watering holes.
You’ve been living in the UK for more than two decades. Does it feel strange to be back in Australia? I’ve been there for 24 years – so I’ve actually been there longer than in Australia, which is bonkers. I have a four-month-old [daughter Liberty] and a three-year-old [daughter Arya] back at home, so my wife is like, “When are you coming back? Come back!” So I guess I do make a difference when I’m there, after all. It’s nice to know that I’m not dispensable. You started dancing as a seven-yearold. In a pretty female-dominated industry, what was it like being one of the only boys in a class of girls? I liked it – I always got on well with girls. And you’re there to dance so you just get on with it. I’ve had my fill of girls picking their leotards out of their bums, and it becomes utterly normalised. You and your wife Nathalia met in the green room at the UK’S Sky One TV station – how did you win her over? She was a guest of the boss of the show and had come along with her family to watch. I was like, “Wow, that girl is beautiful!” And my boss said, “Yeah, but don’t try anything.” So of course I made a beeline straight to her. We spoke a bit, then I went old-school and slipped her my number on a piece of paper. Do you and Arya ever dance together at home? She loves to dance, but makes me stop, saying, “No, Dada, no. I dance.” She needs the floor to herself. Are you going to be a hardcore stage dad? It’s probably inevitable. At the moment she really enjoys dancing, so if she ever goes into that arena, hopefully I could offer her some guidance through that minefield. Dancing is really the longest apprenticeship for the shortest career – and the worst paid. You’ve previously worked with both Kylie and Dannii Minogue, and now you’ll be reuniting with Dannii as a judge on Dance Boss, which she hosts. Who’d win a dance-off between the three of you? Dannii might have it, to be honest. Kylie has the moves, and I don’t want to rock the sorority boat, but look, let’s say maybe it’s a draw… but they’ve definitely wiped the floor with me. And I’d be humble, and also quietly angry. But I’ll go with mainly humble, because of the way it sounds for the interview. Coyote Ugly has become a full-blown cult film. Did you predict its success? Not at all, but people loved Coyote Ugly. It’s sort of become its own cultural reference. There are people watching it now who weren’t born when it was released. It’s been handed down like Grease or Dirty Dancing were. So if it enters that kind of realm, you can’t be unhappy. But I’ll forever be the guy dancing on the bar – which I’m also not unhappy about. Well, that scene is pretty iconic… I choreographed the bar dance – but the nipple rubs were definitely spontaneous. I thought they’d be edited out – how wrong I was! Now that’s the highlight. Did the fan-girling ever get out of hand? They opened a Coyote Ugly bar in Manchester recently, and I was invited as a guest. There were mainly ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics? I remember thinking to myself, “If there’s ever a time to show off, Adam, now is it.” As a child you’re always told not to, but this was it – the time to show the f*ck off. It was a great moment in Australian life, and to have that little moment inside it was so special. I’m very proud of that. You’ve performed in a heap of musicals – from Wicked to Singin’ In The Rain. What’s next?