February 20, 2013

The Boys of Summer, Part 2

There were 14 actors on set when this magazine’s cover was shot, which is a lot of confidence and testosterone in one room. While some were playing basketball, others hanging about discussing upcoming auditions, Louis Hunter was reading a novel with an intensity mirrored in his portrait. It makes sense then that his approach to acting is that of someone wise beyond his years. Indeed, it’s not every 20-year old that plays opposite Cate Blanchett, which Mr Hunter did in 2009 in Sydney Theatre Company’s War of the Roses. Mr Hunter has been acting since he was five and enjoys the diversity in the mediums in which he’s been able to perform, including television series Out of the Blue. “I think both have their strengths and their weaknesses. With theatre you get that immediate response from the audience, but for film and television you get to reach so many more people, and with techniques and tools you’re able to clearly communicate the kind of story and message the director or writer has in mind; that’s really special.” Mr Hunter is perhaps more widely known for his role on American supernatural teen drama The Secret Circle. “It was a big gig…there are things about it I loved and will cherish, and others I’d like to forget. The cast made it really easy, and I learnt a lot from the directors.” As for the future, the actor’s objectives are ambitious but, it seems, not unattainable. “I’d pick something ridiculous, something by Scorsese, or Francis Ford Coppola, as a dream role,” he says. “There are so many different things I want to explore in storytelling – so many things I want to do and discover.”

Alexander England admits that while the use of baby oil was a bit unnerving, the Manuscript shoot was not only fun but a great chance to make the acquaintance of those he hasn’t seen at auditions. “I’m kind of a ‘big guy’, so to meet guys who go for other kinds of roles was good,” says the 26-year old actor who’s already carving out his own niche. Television audiences first saw the graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts as Conrad Fischer in the bushranger drama series Wild Boys. “When we were at drama school, we never learnt to act while on horseback, trying to keep your horse in camera and maintaining a semblance of character,” he says, dryly. “I did come off a few times throughout shooting, so that helped to spice up the acting environment and keep things more real.” Talk about method. Being cast as Tony Greig in the mini-series Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War, he knew he’d be scrutinised widely for playing the South African-born cricketer who became synonymous with cricket commentating on Australian TV. “I mentioned to a few people that I got the role and they all launched straight into their Tony Grieg accent, and I thought, geez, if I can’t get this right then I’m going to be crucified because everybody in their lounge rooms will be thinking they can do a better Tony Grieg than I can.” However, receiving approval from the man himself waylaid any fears. “I have heard a couple of radio interviews where he has said that ‘the young England chap had done an all right job’, so that’s as close as I’ll get to a pat on the back from him,” he says. Next up is portraying another wellknown face, as a young James Packer in Paper Giants: Magazine Wars. “I think being big is paying off at the moment! [But] I’m playing James when he’s about 20, so it’s not a James that most people are familiar with. He’s just a young man looking to prove himself in a world that was moving very fast.” Sounds like someone else we know.

Hugo Johnstone-Burt is an actor with drive. Literally. “I’m a huge car fan. I’ve got a car at the moment that I’m obsessed with, it’s a Volkswagen Golf GTI,” he says. “Some people read, some people paint, I look up car bits online, that’s my thing.” He found his other passion, performing, as a teen, thanks to his high school’s habit of handing out merit cards to worthy students. “I’d never received one, and for my first ever drama class in Year 9 I was given a merit card. I thought, this is awesome, if I can show off and get a merit card for it, then this is what I want to do for the rest of my life!” the 25-yearold explains. Attending NIDA certainly played a part in refining his technique, but he says the transformation was bigger than that. “It wasn’t me just growing up as an actor, it was me growing up as a person. I know it sounds stupidly clich├ęd, but I went in as a 19-year-old boy and came out as a 22-year-old man. It makes you throw yourself headfirst into things.” Turns out these very skills would soon come in handy. After making his television debut in Underbelly: The Golden Mile (“I was absolutely packing it when I walked on the set”) he was cast as Fish Lamb in the TV adaptation of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet. Playing a partially brain-damaged character who lives in his own version of reality really threw down the gauntlet. “It was so challenging. I lost several nights’ sleep over it. It was so much fun to do, but there was always the question of am I going too far or am I not going far enough.” It’s fair to say he was right on target, receiving two nominations at the 2012 ASTRA Awards for Most Outstanding Performance by an Actor and Best New Talent. He’s currently familiar to Home and Away viewers as bad-boy Jamie Sharpe, a stint he wrapped earlier this year. “I never really pictured myself in the Bay, but I loved it, I loved every second of it.” And he will be seen on the big screen in 2013 in Goddess, starring alongside Laura Michelle Kelly, Ronan Keating and Magda Szubanski. In the film, which Mr Johnstone-Burt describes as “a mish-mash of genres”, a former star now living a quiet married life in Australia becomes an internet sensation, quite timely for audiences still recovering from a Gangnam Style onslaught. And after that? “I’m always striving for the next bigger thing, for the next award or the next great performance,” he says. “I don’t think you can ever say you’ve made it."

Words Kate Venman (Louis Hunter) & Cameron Bayley 
(Alexander England & Hugo Johnston-Burt) | Talent wear Prada clothing