Matt’s driv­ing force

From Off­spring to Love Child, Matt Le Nevez has cap­tured hearts across the coun­try. Ahead of his role in Ten minis­eries Brock, he tells DANIELLE McGRANE how a leg­endary rac­ing car driver cap­tured his.

Sunday Territorian - - TV -

Matt Le Nevez’s voice breaks a lit­tle when talk­ing about the man be­hind his next role. “Hon­estly, I’m get­ting up­set talk­ing about it,” he said.

The emo­tion comes when the ac­tor talks about the fi­nal mo­ments of the life of Peter Brock’s, the in­fa­mous rac­ing car driver who Le Nevez is play­ing in the Ten minis­eries Brock.

Brock died in a car crash at 61 a decade ago while tak­ing part in a rally in Perth and Le Nevez strug­gles to talk about it.

“There’ll never be an­other per­son like Peter Brock,” he said.

In a new two-part minis­eries, Le Nevez takes on the role of the driver and helps tell the tale of his ex­tra­or­di­nary life.

“He was a com­plex man who backed his heart and I think it’s an hon­our to be able to step in his rac­ing shoes just for one day,” Le Nevez said.

“To now try to share his story with the rest of Aus­tralia and maybe get some more peo­ple to get to know him, I think it’s a real hon­our and a real priv­i­lege.”

Le Nevez, en­trusted with re-cre­at­ing Brock’s big per­son­al­ity for the small screen, spent four months pre­par­ing and study­ing his man­ner­isms in an at­tempt to em­u­late him.

“I was work­ing on the way Peter spoke, with his slight heavy ‘S’ and the way he walked and the way that he held his arms,” he said.

But Le Nevez found out be­ing a mimic wasn’t re­ally in the job de­scrip­tion.

“The direc­tor pulled me aside and he said, ‘Matt, we’re not do­ing im­per­son­ations, this is not go­ing to be a nor­mal Aus­tralian biopic, I don’t need to see you pre­tend to be Brockie’.”

In­stead, Le Nevez and his cast­mates tried to cap­ture the essence of their re­al­life char­ac­ters, to find what drove them.

Le Nevez said he looked at Brock from the in­side out to un­der­stand his pas­sion, heart and how he loved, par­tic­u­larly the love he had for his wife Bev.

An in­cred­i­ble rac­ing car driver, he was nick­named the King of the Moun­tain, a ti­tle he earned for win­ning the Bathurst 1000 race a record nine times.

The minis­eries charts Brock’s life from his early years on the cir­cuit to his long re­la­tion­ship with Holden and the Holden Dealer Team, to his gam­ble on the En­ergy Po­lariser which nearly de­stroyed his ca­reer.

The de­vice stemmed from Brock’s be­lief in Or­gone en­ergy – it con­tained crys­tals and mag­nets, which were in­serted in the car in the be­lief it would help align the car’s mol­e­cules.

“He backed his heart. He was never afraid of do­ing what he thought was right, even though it might have been the hard­est choice at the time,” Le Nevez said.

Brock’s un­con­ven­tional jour­ney fas­ci­nated the ac­tor.

“He thought be­cause the crys­tals had such a pro­found ef­fect on him on a cel­lu­lar level, the way his Or­gone en­ergy vi­brated, they could also af­fect the way that a car ran,” Le Nevez said.

“I mean, that’s such a unique com­bi­na­tion of things and when Gen­eral Mo­tors tried to block him do­ing it, he backed him­self and he be­lieved in it. Most peo­ple would back down.

“That’s the mark of a true cham­pion – some­one who says, ‘No mat­ter what, I be­lieve in this, and I’m go­ing to do this’, and that’s amaz­ing.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a show about a rac­ing car driver with­out some ac­tual rac­ing.

Le Nevez got the chance to get be­hind the wheel of cars from the 1960s and ’70s, but repli­cat­ing those in­cred­i­ble mo­ments in Brock’s ca­reer wasn’t re­ally an op­tion.

“We have a lot of stock footage,” Le Nevez said. “I’m not go­ing to be able to drive a 1969 Monaro around a moun­tain like Peter no mat­ter how delu­sional I might be, or no mat­ter how good an ac­tor I might be. You can’t act that. It’s an amaz­ing skill.”

The dra­matic footage the ac­tors filmed around the pits has been seam­lessly com­bined with ac­tual race footage to give it a re­al­is­tic qual­ity.

But there were other re­al­i­ties in Brock’s life out­side of the cir­cuit.

The com­plex­ity of his re­la­tion­ship with Holden and Bev, played by Ella Scott Lynch, fas­ci­nated Le Nevez.

As did the de­vel­op­ment of his re­la­tion­ship with his long-time friend and ri­val Al­lan Mof­fat (played by Brendan Cow­ell), who later be­came his co-driver.

Le Nevez is acutely aware, though, his por­trayal of Brock will be par­tic­u­larly poignant for those peo­ple in his life.

“Ul­ti­mately, I did not know him,” he said. “And ul­ti­mately, some of his fam­ily and friends might be un­com­fort­able to watch some of this. But I do hope they can look be­yond that and see we’re try­ing to share their loved one and keep his legacy go­ing and keep that name alive.”

As far as Le Nevez is con­cerned, Brock has left an in­spir­ing legacy that he hopes will reach a new gen­er­a­tion with this show.

“He signed ev­ery au­to­graph [with] ei­ther, ‘Fol­low your dreams’, or, ‘Live your life’,” Le Nevez said. “He was the man who changed the life of ev­ery­one he ever met and I’m hop­ing that maybe some­one can see that.

“Maybe through our film they will go back and look at some of the things Peter did in his life, and maybe that can have an ef­fect on some young kid, be­cause Peter was a coun­try kid from Vic­to­ria who not only con­quered the moun­tain but con­quered the hearts and minds of the en­tire coun­try.”

Le Nevez: “He was the man who changed the life of ev­ery­one he ever met.”

Be­hind the wheel: Matt Le Nevez as mo­tor rac­ing leg­end Peter Brock; below,Brendan Cow­ell plays his co-driver Al­lan Mof­fat.

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