Q&A

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - In­ter­view by NI­CHOLAS FON­SECA

Da­mon Her­ri­man on play­ing his­tory’s bad­dest bad guy.

Fans don’t of­ten recog­nise you in pub­lic since you’re a bit of a chameleon. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Defi­nitely good. Don’t get me wrong, hav­ing peo­ple say hi or tell you they like what you do is re­ally nice. But there’s no doubt be­ing able to go about your day as part of the crowd is prefer­able to be­ing in­stantly recog­nis­able the mo­ment you walk out the door. That would be tough.

You have a small but piv­otal role as Charles Man­son in Quentin Tarantino’s up­com­ing film Once Upon A Time... In Hol­ly­wood. Sum up the on-set at­mos­phere in five words. Fun. Ex­hil­a­rat­ing. Re­laxed. Ego­less. Unique.

You gave an award-win­ning per­for­mance as a trans woman in the first sea­son of Fox­tel’s Se­cret City, but since it aired in 2016, di­a­logue around who should or shouldn’t “play trans” has shifted. What do you make of it now? It hasn’t come up a lot – at least not to me di­rectly – but I’ve cer­tainly thought about it many times. I au­di­tioned for that in Fe­bru­ary 2015, and it’s amaz­ing how much has changed in four years. At the time, the con­cern was more about mak­ing sure they’d done an ex­ten­sive cast­ing search to try and find a trans ac­tor. Now that wouldn’t be enough.

I cer­tainly wouldn’t play that role now, and it’s highly un­likely a non-trans ac­tor would even be asked to play that role.

Your new TV show Per­pet­ual Grace, LTD deals with a pas­tor and his wife, played by Ben Kings­ley and Jacki Weaver, who scam fol­low­ers out of money. How did you keep the at­mos­phere light when you weren’t shoot­ing? Nearly all of my stuff in the show is [ac­tu­ally] with a won­der­ful ac­tor called Jimmi Simp­son. It was very easy keep­ing the at­mos­phere loose work­ing with him be­cause he’s such a funny, down-to-earth guy. It was like work­ing with an­other Aus­tralian.

You’ve banked a huge ar­ray of ac­cents across your ca­reer. What’s one you’ve yet to nail? Prob­a­bly one I haven’t had to do yet. I think a New Zealand ac­cent would be hard, maybe be­cause it’s so close to ours. And ap­par­ently Welsh is par­tic­u­larly tricky. But I am al­ways up for the chal­lenge.

Some YouTube sleuthing un­earths a clip with an adorable 12-year-old you in the 1982 Aus­tralian soap opera Taurus Ris­ing, which was meant to be our an­swer to Dal­las or Dy­nasty. What do you re­mem­ber of that time? My only mem­o­ries are how fun it was. I feel like I had a dozen fill-in par­ents on set who wanted to make sure I was looked af­ter. My own par­ents were liv­ing in Adelaide for most of the time I was act­ing as a kid, so all the cast and crews of those Syd­ney and Mel­bourne shows re­ally stepped up in a won­der­ful way to keep an eye on me. Taurus Ris­ing was es­pe­cially fun be­cause my char­ac­ter was a rich kid. So I had all th­ese in­cred­i­ble toys to play with!

Plenty of young ac­tors go off the rails, but you’ve stayed the course – and at 49, are more in de­mand than ever. What do you chalk it up to? A large part of it was my par­ents. My dad used to drill into me that be­ing an ac­tor was noth­ing spe­cial, and that brag­ging or big-not­ing your­self was an ab­so­lute no-no. “Don’t get a big head,” was of­ten said in our house. I think he must re­gret it a bit now be­cause it’s so drilled into me that half the time I won’t even let him post stuff about me on Face­book out of fear it’s too braggy. I’ll say, “Re­mem­ber what you taught me, Dad?”

Per­pet­ual Grace, LTD airs on Stan, with new episodes from 7pm ev­ery Mon­day.

“Dad drilled it into me that be­ing an ac­tor was noth­ing spe­cial”

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