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Interview: Brett Climo

Interview by Clint Morris

Star of the movie Lost and Found.

One of the most identifiable - not to mention talented and likable - faces from television of the '80s and '90s, Brett Climo (A Country Practice, All Saints, Blue Heelers) makes his triumphant return to form with Lost and Found, an intriguing new psychological drama from first-timer David Pearce. Clint Morris (asking questions in bold type) caught up with Climo to talk about life after Wandin Valley, feeling guilty over Maggie Doyle’s death and the anticipated new Aussie film.

Brett Climo

Brett Climo

Brett, I was just saying to David (Blake, the director) that it’s fantastic that he’s filled these movies with great actors, and not, well, how do I put this... just famous faces? Is it exasperating that the same bunch of actors, be it Heath Ledger or any of the other chaps, get all the roles usually?

I think our film community tends to make movies for our film community. Those people are familiar with the various faces, not even so much the Heath Ledger’s but I think there are other actors who, over the past five or six years, have pretty much defined the look of cinema here.

Nothing against those actors, because if any industry is offering you work, you’re going to take it, but it was almost like there was a role call of names that could only be used – because the film community only wanted to see those people. What David’s done is to try and make a movie with a broader appeal, and because he’s not part of the film community, it seemingly gave him more freedom.

You’ve done some good stuff over the years though - even if it has been television, and not necessarily films.

Oh yeah, yeah...

I mean, didn’t you lead Maggie (on Blue Heelers) to her grave? (Laughs)

(Laughs) I’m worried about you…you think too much! Haha! When I got the call (to be on the show), I wasn’t as aware of it, being in Sydney, than you’d have been in Melbourne... don’t forget I was replacing David Wenham (who had played the character of Maggie’s brother earlier on)... but I came down and found out just how popular the show is.

That was a bit of a different role for you, wasn’t it? Aren’t you usually playing doctors?

Yeah, it was good for that. You get cast for certain reasons... you’ve got to understand what your abilities are... everyone has their own sort of rhythm, and you’re going to get that whether you play against it or not. I don’t think anyone can truly transform. I think what they were trying to do there was to try and cast the character with someone you could sympathise with. I’m not conscious of that, but I tried very hard, and I think that happened.

Is there a role you think you’re most recognizable for?

Brett Climo

Brett Climo

Probably A Country Practice - I imagine. That’s what people are usually thinking of when they come to meet with that “What do I know you from?” crap – and I’m forced to actually go through the work that I’ve done when that happens (laughs). It’s lovely to think you’ve made something that someone has watched, but to put you on the spot and ask what your career is... it’s like asking an architect ‘What buildings have you designed? I know your name, vaguely, but...’

That’s why I loved doing Lost and Found so much, because I’ve moved away from - or rather, it’s moved away from me - that sort of work. The older I’ve gotten, the less inclined I’ve been to want to do that kind of work. I guess, in any field, the older you get the more discerning you get, and you wanna do work that your friends can see too, if you know what I mean? I’d be out to dinner or something, and I’d never be that keen to talk about what I was in, and I was always quite envious about my mates that were able to talk about their work.

I’m not suggesting that television doesn’t have a role, it does, but I just don’t want to do that same kind of stuff anymore. Also, when people get to know you as a certain character, you’re generally called up and asked to essentially repeat that character.

But you were good in those roles...

Oh, yeah, without a doubt. It’s not that I’m not proud of the work, I just...

…Got to bite into a bit more meat with the role in Lost and Found?

Yeah absolutely. And let’s admit it, it’s not every day that you’re asked to do a feature film. I’m with Robyn Gardiner (the agent), and there are some heavyweights there, and her whole list was sent out to David to consider. David had obviously seen me from something and it was obviously a TV thing.

Could’ve been Body Melt?

(Laughs) Yeah...right...there’s a whole list of ‘em actually (laughs).

What have you been in again?

(Laughs)

Sorry, had to. So back to David picking you.

Yeah, he thought I was right for it. I loved the script from the get-go. It’s not often that you read a very complete script – it was actually quite abstract, and I liked that about it - and what I liked about it was that nothing was there that didn’t need to be there. Even his editing structure is very much that as well. There’s going to be negatives, and there’s going to be positives about that... but he’s captured the essence, I think, of what he wrote. I got the character pretty quickly.

Your co-star is Rebecca Gibney. Had you worked with her before?

On The Flying Doctors we’d worked together.

I was wondering whether you were on the same time on that.

Yeah, we were. We actually did a couple of those World Vision specials together too – where I travelled to Africa and so on – and so I’d say I know Rebecca pretty well. She was attached to this film before I was... and it’s lovely work [from her] I think.

It’s sad when I see her turn up in U.S productions though, like the Stephen King things. Work's work, I know, but I think she’s so much better than some second-bit role in rubbish like that. So many good Aussie actors are wasted in all the American stuff that films here...

I guess it’s just the way our industry has been... especially the last couple of years.

How long of a shoot was the movie?

It was only four weeks. What I liked about this shoot was the fact that David would look to me, a fair bit, for advice on the set. It gave me a fair bit of empowerment. It gave me a lot of confidence in my self. Now that's good and bad, because I then did a small part in the film Because of Revelation, and the director of that, Ana Kokkinos, has a different way of working, because she is more experienced. I kind of wish David was harder on me, because I didn’t get away with anything!

Melbourne is captured beautifully in the film. What suburbs was it filmed in?

We filmed in St.Kilda, the City and the exterior of the Architectural firm was the Australian Ballet. They gave us their space, which was terrific, because it’s a great example of architecture, '60s architecture; I love the interiors there.

Are you hoping to work with David again?

Definitely. He has a terrific idea, based on a book, that is just a tremendous story (in the works next). Yeah, I’d love to work with him again – not just for the work, don’t get me wrong, but... I’ll tell you why: When we first touched base, he said he’d sent me the script and for me to have a read and get back to him. That was on a Thursday, I read it that evening, and called him back in the middle of my day to tell him that I couldn’t wait and could I read some scenes for him?

I wanted to get the ball rolling. I came down to his house and we just chatted, you know? He was just very honest, and said ‘I don’t have a problem, I’d love you to do it’. It was like fuck, that was just so simple. So often, it’s not simple, Clint, and it’s not personable either, there’s a lot of bad manners in our industry and with David, it was just good manners - the way it should be. It shouldn’t have to be a struggle; it shouldn’t have to be a fight.

How do you think the film will go here?

Obviously its been shown to the major distributors, and they've, for whatever reason, decided they don’t want to go ahead with it, and I’m aware there’s a few problems [there]... but I still think there’s a place for it. I think that it’s unfortunate that it’s being released around the same time as Kokoda, even though I know we’re talking about different types of films, but I hope it goes well.

So it’s very small scale, but I’m very proud of it, I’m really just not saying that. I think it’s more than comparable to a lot of releases that I’ve seen. I think if it came from America or England it would have more of a kudos about it, and I think that’s why David is trying not to promote it too much as an Australian film too much, but it’s a neutral piece.

Lost and Found is screening in Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland.

More details here: http://www.lostandfoundmovie.com.au/.

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