Da­mon Herriman has found his niche play­ing bad guys, writes Kathy McCabe

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - WATCH -

DA­MON Herriman calls the de­ci­sion of his ca­reer “re­gret in­sur­ance”.

Af­ter star­ring as a reg­u­lar pres­ence in Aus­tralian film and tele­vi­sion – kick­ing off in the iconic The Sul­li­vans when he was six – the ac­tor de­cided 15 years ago to try his luck in Hol­ly­wood.

“I didn’t want to be in my rock­ing chair at 85 thinking, ‘Why didn’t

I go to Amer­ica?’” Herriman tells Watch.

“I was about 34 at that point and thinking I was getting on in terms of an ac­tor break­ing into a new coun­try.”

Herriman scored a role in the 2005 Amer­i­can hor­ror film House of Wax and con­tin­ued to get in an episode here and there, split­ting his time be­tween Los An­ge­les and home.

Then, his cast­ing as white su­prem­a­cist Dewey Crowe in Jus­ti­fied at the turn of the decade was fol­lowed by a string of chilling and game-chang­ing roles as an epic bad guy.

That trend has reached its zenith in the past two years – hired to play criminal cult leader Charles Man­son not once (in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hol­ly­wood), but twice (cur­rently star­ring in Net­flix se­ries Mind­hunter).

He also featured as a ruth­less priest in Foxtel’s Lambs of God and de­scribes his role as a cor­po­ral in the con­tro­ver­sial new Aus­tralian film The Nightin­gale as his most “hideous char­ac­ter”.

That pat­tern con­tin­ues when Herriman re­turns as night­club boss Freddy, the man who as­signs Scott Ryan’s hit­man Ray Shoe­smith his jobs in the ac­claimed black com­edy se­ries Mr Inbetween.

The se­ries is the love child of Ryan, de­vel­oped from The Magician, a film he made more than 15 years ago.

It fol­lows the ex­ploits of Shoe­smith, as he jug­gles his vi­o­lent oc­cu­pa­tion with rais­ing a daugh­ter and main­tain­ing a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship and friendship­s.

Ryan said writ­ing the sec­ond se­ries with the cast, in­clud­ing Herriman, of­fered him wide scope to de­velop the char­ac­ters his co-stars now in­hab­ited.

“I had no idea Da­mon was go­ing to play the part of Freddy when I wrote sea­son one,” Ryan says.

“If I had known that I would have writ­ten a bigger part for Freddy.

“Da­mon is so great and I can’t just have him in the show and not utilise [him]. The ac­tors come along and im­bue these char­ac­ters with their own char­ac­ters which helps flesh them out to a cer­tain de­gree and makes my job eas­ier and a lot more en­joy­able.”

Ryan hints the sec­ond

Mr Inbetween sea­son will re­veal more of the “hu­man side” of both

Shoe­smith and Freddy.

“As a writer, my ap­proach is to show their hu­man flaws with­out los­ing the au­di­ence be­cause these guys can be hor­ri­ble,” he says.

For Herriman, Freddy’s kind of vil­lainy is “a lot of fun” com­pared to play­ing Man­son or Lambs of God’s nasty Fa­ther Bob. He im­me­di­ately ap­pre­ci­ated the efforts of the cast (in­clud­ing Brooke Satch­well and Justin Ros­niak) in help­ing de­velop this unique, darkly funny drama.

“Scott has found all the bits that worked in sea­son one and ex­panded on those which means now we’re all a lit­tle bit more de­fined than be­fore,” he says. “The changes I’ve no­ticed with Freddy are cir­cum­stan­tial stuff; Scott’s writ­ten scenes that are purely there to see Freddy get frus­trated about some­thing. A scene where Freddy and his girl­friend have an ar­gu­ment about toi­let paper was bril­liant writ­ing.”

Herriman is nat­u­rally ef­fu­sive about his ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with the Inbetween team, which in­cludes di­rec­tor Nash Edger­ton.

But you can’t blame him for be­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ately stoked about getting his mo­ment to shine in Tarantino’s or­bit.

In the final cut, he has just one scene as Man­son in Once Upon a Time In Hol­ly­wood; but there’s a lifetime of stories from his time on set.

Like the se­cret gin and tonic tradition.

“I have a feel­ing this is some­thing he’s done on ev­ery movie; a se­cret tradition,” Herriman ex­plains.

“So there was a 25-minute break and all these snacks and gin and ton­ics come out and ev­ery­one’s clap­ping. So I start clap­ping, I guess it’s a good thing and I have no idea what’s hap­pen­ing.

“Some­one later ex­plained this just hap­pens ev­ery 100 rolls of film. I’m stand­ing there thinking, ‘This just gets bet­ter’.

“I asked what hap­pens if the 100 rolls of film comes up at 7am and they said ‘Then we have drinks at 7am!’ I’m glad I was wrapped when the drinks came out be­cause I was feel­ing tipsy.”

As an in-de­mand ac­tor who has al­most equally di­vided his time be­tween Hol­ly­wood and Aus­tralia over the past decade, Herriman is well-placed to ob­serve the “pur­ple patch” of qual­ity home­grown, lo­cal pro­duc­tions hap­pen­ing right now.

“Ev­ery time I speak to a friend who is an ac­tor, they seem to be in a mini-se­ries; I don’t re­mem­ber so much drama be­ing made at one time,” he says.

“In terms of qual­ity, I think we’ve seen an up­ward trend since pro­duc­tions like Love My Way. I think that was such an in­cred­i­ble piece of drama which truly showed what Aus­tralia can do and put us in the in­ter­na­tional leagues.”



Da­mon Herriman as night­club boss Freddy in Mr Inbetween; be­low, co-star Scott Ryan as hit­man Ray Shoe­smith.

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