THE VERY TALENTED JOSH LAWSON
Josh Lawson appeared in what was arguably last year’s most heavily promoted and hyped film, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. His critically acclaimed US television series, House of Lies, has been renewed by US cable network Showtime for a fourth season; and he’s just achieved bona fide slashie status as writer/ director/actor of his first feature film, The Little Death (to be released in September). Yet despite his success as an actor both in the US and Australia — he’s appeared in a wide range of Australian television series including Sea Patrol, All Saints, Home and Away and Thank God You’re Here — Lawson manages to get through life virtually unrecognised by the general public.
“Occasionally it happens, but not really,” he says about being stopped in the street by fans. “I don’t get recognised that often, partially I think because in Anchorman 2, for instance, I wore a wig and had a goatee and I didn’t quite look like me. And in House of Lies my character, Doug, is such an unusual one in that he’s really uptight and I don’t think people connect me to that type of character, which I think is great.”
It is perhaps Lawson’s greatest gift as an actor that he can disappear into a role and have the audience familiar with the character rather than the actor. He’s the perfect everyman, a trait that has allowed him to play roles as varied as the ocker Aussie network television boss in Anchorman 2, a nerdy and neurotic Harvard-educated management consultant in House of Lies and a drug smuggler in Underbelly Files: The Man Who Got Away. He rose to fame on the improv series Thank God You’re Here and even hosted the game show Wipeout Australia.
The Brisbane-born actor, who graduated from NIDA in 2001, has been based in Los Angeles for the past six years. “For the first few years when I was in LA, I was working more in Australia, but then over time it started to shift, and when House of Lies started rolling then I was spending more time in the States,” he says. For the past eight years, however, Lawson has been working on his first feature film as writer and director (and actor), The Little Death. The film will have its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival on June 13 and will be released in cinemas in September.
“I wrote the first draft of the film about eight years ago and have been trying to get money for it for a long, long time, and there are lots of reasons why it’s been difficult to do that,” he says. “One is that the content of the film was a bit challenging and people are nervous about that, and another is because I’m a first-time director, and people need to see runs on the board before they will fund a film, which is fair enough.” With title referring to the French term for sexual climax, the challenging content is about sex rather than death. The film — a comedy — is about the secret sex lives of ordinary people living on the same suburban street. Along with Lawson, it stars Bojana Novakovic, Damon Herriman and Kate Mulvany, Lachy Hulme as well as Lawson’s brother Ben. The film was produced by Jamie Hilton, Michael Petroni and Matt Reeder.
“It’s about five couples and someone in each of the couples has an unusual sex fetish,” says Lawson. “It’s a sex comedy, but it’s really about relationships and how sex can complicate a relationship and how often people, no matter how much they love each other, are sexually in different places and what that means for a relationship.
“I would definitely like to direct more and I think it made it easier with The Little Death that I wrote it and I was directing my own stuff,” he says. “I’m working on a few scripts at the moment, but it takes time and in order for me to finish off those scripts I would have to stop acting for a little bit and that’s nerve-racking because as an actor every part of your body says, ‘I want to work’. I will never forget being an out of work actor.”
Hugo Boss cashmere coat, Giorgio Armani cotton two-tone knit and cotton denim jeans, Gucci wool print scarf, Tod’s leather loafers, Giorgio Armani opticals from OPSM