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Interview: Tom Long

Interview by Sean Lynch

Interview with Tom Long
Stars in the movie Book of Revelation.

Tom Long talks to Sean Lynch

Tom Long went through a dramatic
physical change throughout the
grueling shoot of Book of Revelations

Tom Long talks to Sean Lynch

Long says his latest film will
"divide audiences" and that his Mum
only wants to see "The bits with the dancing"

Tom Long talks to Sean Lynch

Australia fell in love with him as the nervous and slightly idiotic Angus Kabiri on the hit ABC series SeaChange, adored him as the nervous and slightly idiotic Glenn Latham in the box office hit The Dish and largely ignored him in the short lived Channel Nine cop series Young Lions

But country boy, actor, part time documentary filmaker and all round nice bloke - Tom Long - is back to make his mark in the lead role of one of the most controversial films of 2006, Ana Kokkinos' Book of Revelation. SEAN LYNCH caught up with him while in town for the Melbourne International Film Festival.

I saw the film the other night. Loved it. Bit shocking...
Yeah, it's very shocking

This is one of your first lead films as "The Main Man"?
Yeah. I’ve done tele-movies as 'The Main Man' and one feature which was called Risk with Claudia Karvan and Bryan Brown. I’ve done ones like Postcard Bandit and more telemomives...

You seem to be one of the few Aussie actors getting steady work, do you think that's because you've been a bit choosy with your roles?
Well I have been lately. Because I don't have to do it all the time. And I don't feel like I continuously have to trip over tripods, you know [laughs]. I sort of want a reason to be away from home now. If I'm just doing crap and traveling 'round in hotels...I mean, thats great when your young - when your single and it's all girls and your living the rock star life - but when you get older, you just can't, you know.

Are you finding theres alot of pressure that comes along with being the lead actor?
Aw, no. The pressure was sort of dwarfed by being nude and dancing and all that stuff.. [laughs]

There was nudity? I didn't even notice [laughs]. Well, what is your interpretation of the film? I mean, there's alot that people are able to get out of this film...
Basically, it’s a dancer who gets abducted [and raped] by three women and has to learn to deal and come to terms with losing his lack of power and why they did this, and who they are, and also talking about his own pain and finding a voice. So I suppose it's about him and about abuse, and the cycles of abuse.

You know, like when you go from [being a] victim without sorting stuff out, you end up becoming the perpetrator.

Even the women perpetrating against him - there are little hints there that maybe they have been abused, you know? So until these issues are resolved or talked about and the wounds are healed they’ll keep playing out. So the people committing crimes and pedophilia or any sort of rapes or whatever have often been abused themselves.

Ana [the director] is known for exploring these sort of controversial topics [with Head On]. Do you think the 'Shock Factor' takes away from the film itself at all?
Look, I think it'll really divide audiences. I think you can’t help but think about it and talk about it even if you hate it. But I don’t think hating it or loving it is the thing, so much as what people think and if they talk about it.

...I suppose the most important thing is that it actually does get a response from the audience...
It does. And it is shocking. And I must say when I read the script, I hated it in a lot of ways. Not exactly hated - but it angered me, you know. I didn’t like the idea of men losing their power, I think. And then I wanted to call into question, well how can women do that? How easy? Then I wanted to question the validity of "Aw, Can you just walk up to a man and drug him?" and things like that.

I noticed a few people walked out at the MIFF Premiere. One girl in particular walked out crying during the sodomy scene, I'm assuming that won't be the first or last time. Are you worried about any negative backlash on you for doing the film?
No, No. Well I mean, maybe there will be. There will be all sorts of reactions, some will make it against the film maker, some will make it against the actor. But you don't know why she left though. It could be something personal, it could have been something that’s happened to her or upset her...

...She might still be upset from Marissa dieing on The O.C...
[laughs] Yeah well she could. But she could also just absolutely hate it [the film] with a passion and want to get out of there and say "Why the hell should I sit through this?". There could be all sorts of reactions, and we'll get all of them with this. There'll be some not buying the premise, you know, goin' "Aw, come on, this is stupid". There could be some that are sucked right in [to the story]. So there'll be all sorts of reactions.

There was almost an Eyes Wide Shut feel about the movie in that regard. Did you find it difficult to cut yourself off at the end of the day?
I found the best way to cut off for me was to just absolutely be in the moment and sort of forget about it as soon as I got home. So when I was there [on set] I just tried, really, just to be there. And when I go back to my girlfriend, my partner, that she's just like "How was your day?" and I'd just smile [laughs] "Oh yeah" [laughs]. Cause it's very strange, you know, cause I’ve got a son – I’m a father...

...Well how do you feel about going home to that from such explicit sort of scenes?
Well I felt exhausted for starters [laughs]. I felt the only way to cope and whenever I’m under pressure or anything...when it's too much and you think about everything and your head just can't cope - you just have to be in the moment and say "Ok, I’ve gotta do this and do this". 

Are you a bit worried about your Mum or your girlfriend seeing the film? Have you put a ban on it at all?
I would like to, but that would probably make them want to go see it even more. Mum said "Oh no, I just want to see the dancing bits". Cause I don’t really want her to see her boy like that.

The whole idea of them seeing it isn't really that appealing to me. It's gonna be more confronting with family, you know. Cause it's quite reckless in a way...but in the end...I just did not give a fuck. Like, I had to be like that. I had to be like "I don’t care if I never work again". It was more like, “bugger it”, you know...

Well this is obviously the most extreme place you can go as an actor. Because, I was really just expecting a Mel Gibson 'Butt Shot' at the very most - but I got a bit more than that. Where do you go from here?
Well, I don’t need to go any more explicit, well you can't - unless you going into snuff porn [laughs]...

...[laughs]...Well there's alot of money in that, so it's not all bad...
[laughs]..Yeah. Well, I  feel like I've explored that sort of area now. And I suppose I’m drawn to anything that scares me. And this did scare the hell out of me. (1) Being nude, (2) Dancing, (3) the abuse and stuff like that...

Well with the dancing, were you a dancer prior to this? Because you grew up on a farm as a kid, so was dancing a bit foreign to you?
Yeah. I'm one of these guys...like there's guys that can be really free on the dance floor - and I’m not one of those, you know. I'm not an exhibitionist at all. So the whole idea - that terrified me...

Well that's an interesting point. Because there is a particular scene which I wanted to ask you about. Which was more embarrassing - the dancing, the nudity...or having to play Footy really badly?
[laughs]..Yeah, probably the footy really. Because I do play footy, and I've got this from footy [points to head], and I still play footy..[laughs]...you have to be able to play footy to actually be able to play that badly!

So you actually play a bit of Footy still?
Yeah, yeah, I've got Brunswick here [points down the road] and I play for Violet Town...

So do you think you'll cop a bit of shit from the guys down there?
[laughs] Well, they've already started mate - and they haven't seen nothing yet. [laughs]..but it just keeps it real, so that's fine, you know.

I always treated it [acting] as a bit of a joke. Because I wasn't an actor and I never knew any actors, so it was always just a joke with my mates and then it sort of became serious because I started making a living.

I suppose with [Revelation co-stars] Colin Friels and Deb Mailman, you know, I do look up to them, and i do...but I look up to all actors cause I always think I'm a bit of an imposter..

What have you got lined up from here?
Workwise, I don’t need to act all the time. I try not to. So I’m doing docos, I make documentaries with my brother who lives in Paris and Sweden. So I’d like to go more that way, I’d like to work a couple of jobs a year..acting. So I’ve got a couple of things coming out - a couple of tele things and stuff - but I’m really trying to focus more on that, on production.

...So is that something you'd prefer?
Yeah, as I get older, I think that’s where I’ll go. But I’d still like to keep acting but only when the roles excite me or do something for me or challenge me in some way. I suppose just before I get out of acting, if I get sick of it, I'll just do every bit of crap...

BOOK OF REVELATION opens across Australia September 7th.

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