Interview - Clubland (Aka: Introducing The Dwights)
Interview with Khan Chittenden & Richard Wilson Stars
Chittenden (below) is keeping
his feet firmly cemented on the ground
with Brenda Blethyn (below)
We are living in
a new Golden Age of Australian cinema. After an extremely rough patch
in the world of locally produced TV and Film, the creative minds bred
in Australia are final getting it right with a string of Aussies
joining the A-List in Hollywood, as well as churning out some of the
best cinema experiences in years.
it's the most recent batch of flicks have really set the bench mark.
"Clubland" (or "Introducing The Dwights" as it will be called in the
US) has just been sold to Warner Independent for $4 million after a
successful run at Sundance - and is about to become the first
Australian film in history to open in the US on the coveted July 4th
LYNCH recently caught up with two of the films stars, the likeable Khan
Chittenden (KC) and Richard Wilson (RW) (who had just arrived back from
the Russian film festival in which he was promoting "The Proposition"),
to talk all things Hollywood.
Richard. How did things go in Russia?
It [The Proposition]
was one of the Top 10 Foreign films at the festival over there. I've
been there for a couple of weeks and it's been great.
it just wandering around for a couple of weeks not understanding what
they hell anyone was saying...
Well I had an interpreter, luckily. I had a 24/7 interpreter that
followed me everywhere, she was brilliant.
followed you everywhere?
...Oh no, no, no [laughs].
No don't print that, I've got a girlfriend!
you got to go to Sundance for the Clubland
premiere. How did that all go?
I went with Emma [Booth] and Cherie Nolan [the director]...it was a
great experience really.
it all just a bit crazy? I'd assume it was just an hour or so watching
the movie...then [party] it up for the rest of the time, really?
Not in Russia, you get shot for that! [Laughs] KC:
You just have to slip them a few bills [laughs].
Nah, it was a great experience. There was a lot of press to do there
because there was a lot of interest in the film. Like, there wasn't a
person there that hadn't heard of it, or wasn't looking forward to
seeing it. I mean, that first opening night screening, there was about
1500 people just jammed into this Gymnasium that had been converted
into a cinema.
were a few other Aussies up there for the festival?
Brendan Cowell and Matthew Saville were there for Noise.
I saw Noise
and it's a pretty great Aussie film. I mean, it's pretty dark and has a
really quite intrinsic Australian sensibility to it. So I don't think
it was embraced in the same commercial sense as Clubland was. But
it's such a great achievement for both films to be seen there...
You've had some pretty plum roles leading up to your performance in Clubland (The Proposition, 48 Shades, Deck
Dogz). Are you picky when it comes to scripts, or you
would happily take a Starburst ad if it was on the table?
I don't know about a Starburst ad, it depends how much they pay [Laughs]... KC:
What about Playschool?....[Laughs] RW:Playschool?
No I wouldn't say picky, I don't think in Australia you can afford to
be picky because theres such a limited amount of work. So when a role
comes along, something like Clubland,
it was such a brilliant and challenging role that you only come across
maybe once in an actors lifetime. I've been very fortunate, but you
just can't afford to be picky in this country.
even you've had a good run with films and TV [a major role on Blue Water High]...
That was actually my first foray into the professional industry after I
left WAPA. Then I did Caterpillar
Wish, and I've got a film that went to Berlin [and about
to hit Australian screens] called West.
And then along came Clubland,
and like Richard said, it's just one of those roles you feel fortunate
as an actor in this country to be able to sink your teeth into.
you seem to have been into acting since a young age. I read somewhere
that Khan used to perform magic shows as a kid?
...Yeah [Laughs] RW:
You did that too! Like, used to put on shows for your family and stuff?
[Laughs] What sort of magic tricks were
part of your repertoire?
...I don't know [Laughs] RW:
I've got one! What you do is....
here Richard begins to explain the concept of a trick involving a coin,
string, a table cloth and a ball and a bit of levitation with great
had a trick called 'The Hollow Egg'. You crack it on someones head, and
amazingly theres no yolk... RW:
How do you do that? KC:
...Oh, with a needle [Laughs].
I got it out of a magazine called 'I Spy: The Trick To Being a Magician
For Under 10's' [Laughs].
And a trick with a with a carrot fashioned like a finger and a tea
towel and some pens. So yeah, some really high tech David Copperfield
[Laughs] Well, we could talk dodgy magic
all day, but I probably should get back to the flick. Richard, your
role is a stand-out in Clubland
[that of a teen with cerebral palsy]. What sort of preparation goes
into that? Because there's a fine line between getting it accurate and
taking the piss...
It was really quite scary at first, when I got the role. Because you
want to do something like this right, you know, you can't look like
your 'acting' with cerebral palsy, because theres so many people out
there with the disease and it affects so many lives - and to not do it
right would not only be offensive to them - but bad for people who see
I did a lot of preparation. I spent some time at Disability
Services Australia, and no one knew I was an actor, they all thought I
was disabled, so I could get a real response...
were actually in playing the part in a real life situation?
Yeah, Yeah. Only the bosses there knew that I wasn't really disabled.
So I worked there for a while and saw a specialist. And at the end of
the day it became easier than playing someone like Khan's character...
you can sort of mask yourself?
Yeah, because you can totally become another character, or someone
else. As opposed to the intricacies involved with something like Tim. KC:
I was blown away, because we had a 3 week rehearsal period, and at some
point in the rehearsal he just came in with this walk, these mannerisms
that was just really spot on. And it was just like "Wow", just so
detailed and everyone was just like.... RW:
Good Acting! [Laughs]
[Laughs] Is it the kind of thing you can
just click on and off or you have to work yourself into it?
I can kind of click it on and off now..
of a party trick [Laughs]?
...Not when you're walking down the street through [Laughs]
flick is set to hit cinemas in the US on July 4. You're up against Transformers and The Simpsons Movie...
Aw, Shit! [Laughs] KC:
It's a different crowd though. Hopefully it will do well, Warner
Independent are really confident with it... RW:
Well apparently we've already made our money back. Which is so rare,
especially before we've even been released.
you'll be asking for a bit of a salary rise?
We'll be askin', but we won't be getting! [Laughs]
all the buzz surrounding the flick, has it given you any extra chances
to try and break it in the US?
Well it's definitely, I'd say, opened doors for both of us. Staying
grounded and maintaining the passion for what we are doing as actors,
and persistence and determination and it's as simple as that. Once the
doors are open, it's just a matter of chasing down opportunities.
the acting gig took off, what sort of jobs were you both doing on the
side to put food on the table?
Dishwashing, tele-sales RW:
I did Gardening with my Dad, I worked in a hospital...
was the first job that you got?
I was fifteen, and it was a Channel 9 sitcom called Flat Chat with Jean
Kitson. We were on after Friends,
and I think we got two million viewers our first night, and then every
week it just got lower and lower until it got to about 300,000 and then
it got canned! [Laughs]
it lasted longer than most shows do on Channel Nine these days. I mean
they don't even make sitcoms anymore...so maybe it was your fault!What
have you got lined up from here?
Khan is actually doing a film with Guy Pierce now... KC:
It's called How
To Change In 9 Weeks,
it's an Australian film. It's Guy Pierce, Sam Neil and Miranda Otto.
Um, Steve Vidler, Jeremy Sims and Rebecca Gibney who's also in Clubland.
pretty much every Australian that's ever had an acting role...ever...
It's a good cast, it's based around the real life disappearance of a
woman called Rachel Barberra in 1999 (a Melbourne girl). It's about the
emotions the family go through when they find out she's been kidnapped,
and eventually murdered by an Ex-Babysitter five years her senior. So
it's one of those kinds of stories.
I've got a few things lined up. Nothing I can really say just yet as
it's not all signed and sealed... KC:
I'm playing one of the Bananas in Pajamas...
opens in Australia in June 2007 - and in the USA on July 4th