Blue Heelers: articles

Talking to Rupert Reid

So you're the most recent recruit to the Mt Thomas police force, how have you found it so far?
As an actor—It's been a mad rush getting into it because I started September last year and they threw me right into a whole heap of story lines straight away.


You've had a lot with the attempted murder thing
Yeah, that was just recently and then there's a couple more coming up in the next couple of months or so, shoots, stabbing we shot earlier this year. Which is a real getting to know your...get the character in, get the audience comfortable with Jack and so it was really full on. It was a really intense period and now it's sort of slackened off a bit— coming in at 9.30.

Instead of six o'clock?
Yeah, that probably won't last long.

Did you find–I mean it's such a well known show and it's been going for quite a while–was it a bit daunting joining a cast like that?
It was funny, because I'm from Sydney—it's not as obvious in Sydney, and there was a lot of publicity that's local around Melbourne, like the telethons and openings and things like that. So I didn't have the sense of Blue Heelers mania until I got here. I went wow this is a really huge show, and I worked out why Lisa got the Gold Logie three years running and why she's so popular and everyone else on the show is so popular, because they work so hard and it is a real unit. And that's kind of the task for me to come a part of the unit. You know getting in to it. You get in there and just put your head down and work, that was the only hard bit getting used to the intensity of it.

Your charcter came in really seemleslesly, it was really not such a rupture. The end of last year you arrived and the character just clicked in really well–it didn't seem like it was this whole 'oh my god this is a new character' bit going on.
Yeah I found that I just didn't let that part get to me. If you go in there freaking out, people can sense it and the audience will go he's freakin' out. He's wiggin' out big time. It's now that I am doing less that I have to do more consciously, to not stick out like dogs balls! It's a very fast moving show as well, which I like, it gallops along at this huge pace where they shoot indoors—22 scenes in a day maybe.

Yeah, it's pretty full-on.
And you go out and do all the running around and exterior stuff. So you don't get time to agonise over where you went wrong, which helps. I guess, I was prepared for that when I got in here. Blue Heelers is a fast show even though it's a country show and it talks about community issues. It really moves with story lines and editing and all that. It's a small cast and there's not a lot of extras, if you stopped the whole thing would just go down the gurgler. That's something about the acting style I've noticed everyone's really choppy and keep it up, keep it up!

Yeah the camera works like that as well. It kind of moves from frame to frame to include as many people in the action as possible.
Yeah, yeah

It's a good show to watch. How did you find the Logies, since you were part of a Logie winning cast?
Tas said when she first came in it was the first year they'd won all the Logies. I hope I can keep it all going. But it was a wicked night, I've never been before, so it was a real buzz seeing all these faces you've watched on TV and being up there with them. Some guy came up to me, I won't say who, and asked for my autograph for his daughter. I was like 'oh sure'–but can I get your autograph, you're a legend man I've watched you since I was that big. So all that kind-of stuff was a real blowout. The whole night was a real buzz and everyone was having a great time, and Andrew Denton completely made the show.

Yeah everyone seemed to be enjoying it. There was also a lot of nervous faces around going, uuuh don't be me. So you were on Heatbreak High before this, was that a good experience?
Yeah, yeah it was mad. A year of really intense acting and playing, going wild and having a really good time. Because the show wasn't actually really on-air for a great amount of time, when I was on the show, we just sort of stuffed around. I don't why, it was just going overseas to England and Europe and it was really big over there. But we were kind of in this nether world–creating our own thing–away from the city of Sydney. It was filmed at Maroubra school, so you didn't want to go out into Maroubra very much. People would say, "so what are you doing? Oh Heartbreak High–are you still making that... right." People still say are you still making it, now. I haven't been on the show for two years. Now it's back on air, people still go, "hey you're Deckland aren't ya"–no I'm Jack now, I've got a real job!.

Hey leave me alone, I've got my hair cut now.
Yeah, that's right can't you tell. But no that was great, great experience learning how to work on film. It was the first time I had worked on television. It was kind of lucky it wasn't huge in a way, because there was a lot of mistakes made.

I think because of the sort of show it was, people probably wouldn't have noticed or cared. So have you cashed in on the success and done a nightclub tour of England?
No, no. I'd prefer to do a nightclub tour of Sydney but they won't let me in. No seriously, I went over to England a couple of years ago, before working in Sydney with Bell Shakespeare. But I went over and it wasn't the right time, so I though stuff it–and just went to the pub.

Probably the last time, now your anonymity's pretty much shot.
Yeah, but I haven't had a chance to go back. Apparently Heartbreak High is pretty big in France, so I'll have to hook over there.

Australian shows that seem to turn up in countries like Germany and Hungary and stuff.
Yeah someone said The Flying Doctors is huge in Holland, huge. A friend of mine got this call from the Dutch president of the Flying Doctors fan club asking what they were up to. There's this huge following, but only in Holland. But Heartbreak's done really well in France, maybe as well in Englaand. I think Neighbours and Home and Away might be the winners over there.

Except all the ex Home and Away actors do pantomimes now, so you'll have to do something else.
Yeah I'm thinking of doing the Blue Heelers stage show, using moving sets.

You never know, it could be a bit of an ask for a one man show.
Oh no, the rest of the cast as well. I don't reckon we'd get John Wood over there though.

No possibly not. So how old were you when you realised that you wanted to act?
Thirteen, my mum is an actor and she was always involved with something.

Didn't she play John Wood's wife in something?
She might have done, yeah. She's doing other stuff now, she was in a play at the Old Fitzroy in Sydney, where the Tamarama Rock Surfers do their stuff. Anyway I thought acting was great and she said go for it. I started doing classes at ATYP in Sydney, and then did a bit of NIDA part time for a year. I then got a bit-role with Bell Shakespeare, working with a huge cast. That was more like training in itself–I mean you're always training, really.

Well that's good experience, training with John Bell
The good thing about that was,I was working with really trained actors that had done heaps of work; you had Jeremy Simms, Lucy Bell, Darren Gibson. They'd all done heaps of work, then there was me and Richard and a few others who hadn't really done anything before, but obviously keen and in to it. I think John really took us under his wing and gave us theatre experience with Bell Shakespeare company, but don't stuff it up–because you won't get another chance.

Now you wouldn't have time to fit in another one even if it came calling.
No that's a pity, but there is always later. I got a nice reference from them.

Do you think NIDA was valuable then, or do you think that you were probably better off learning on the job?
What I learnt at NIDA was really good. I didn't do the three-year course though, I did the part-time course called the Young Actors Studio Workshop.. Which is kind of like a bridging course between school and the three-year acting program. It is not technically that, but you're at that age group when you're inbetween school and university. If you're really into it and want to study full time they encourage you to come back and audition for the three year course, but you've got no guarantees. Although a couple of people from my course got in. I don't know, I kind of got that experience through working. Because what you do when you're working is get a lot of good stuff. At NIDA you receive alot of voice training and get some really interesting roles and plays, but you can easily slip into the background. It's like any kind-of ensemble, you're with the same people for three years. So I got a lot of training on the job, and I can still keep on working with other things, like doing courses with international voice teachers, acting teachers and kind of taking the best—and tailoring it to my own wants as an actor. I think that you're given a lot of information in a place like NIDA and you can't necessarily process it all. With acting you can draw upon stuff as you need it. Really the roles that I've been getting are young, enthusiastic student type things.

Well it's interesting you say that because Antoinette Byron from Home and Away and she's had a lot of work of from overseas and she went to NIDA Anyway she went to NIDA and I said do you think it was a valuable experience and she just went yeah—She just took every role that she could, every role in community theatre that she could get her hands on, she thought that was a lot more valuable in the long run. So it's interesting?
Yeah it's getting the hands on experience in the real world without the safety net that is really important. I can't really say that, because I never went to NIDA. I think you push yourself harder because you didn't.

Possibly, and it seems to be very specific way of teaching people to act. So perhaps if you do learn on the job you're less malleable

You relocated to Melbourne for the show, how are you finding that? I can imagine a lot of Sydneysiders find it a bit grey
No, love it, love it. I love Melbourne because I grew up in the bush–a cold climate. Then I moved to Sydney when I was little so I've had a bit of both. I love Sydney, I think it's a really cool city–it's just madness though.

Yeah it's getting more that way
It's getting smaller and smaller and everybody's an actor, director, writer, producer–getting something happening. And you feel like when you're not doing anything, you just want to give it all away and be a gardener or a hermit. I became a bit of a hermit in Sydney when I wasn't working. But Melbourne's great, definitely.

So you don't regret leaving it behind–the sun, the sand and the surf?
No, I usually only see the sun at sunrise.

What's your take on Jack as a character?
Initially I thought he's a really young character.

Younger than his age, you mean?
in some ways, yeah, but I guess that's true of anybody. He's not somebody who pretends to be older than he is. He's really kind of happy with being young. You now some kids when there 16 there 30. I was like that, I was always somewhere else. Jack seems to be really present in his body, he's really okay with his clumsiness and youthfulness. I find that it's really good, so there is also a core maturity, empathy and understanding of people, in Jack

That is his nature and I think that's timeless, like with anybody.

He seems very decent. A very dependable, decent, earnest young man.
Yeah I tried my best. He read as being a little bit stupid, I'm not sure if it was stupid or naive. But he's so easy to please. I've really enjoyed playing Jack because he's willing to learn, to absorb and to work hard at the process of part of a group, and part of what is the Blue Heelers, Mt Thomas. Which is kind of what I was, where I was when I came here as well. It was a really big learning experience and I just threw myself in. It's funny when you do play a character sometimes you emulate, or your life emulates what the character's life is going through in some way–uncanny one day. One episode I got pulled over by the cops and that week I got pulled over by the cops, nothing too bad. And it hadn't happened for months and months. But things like that will happen.

The universe works in mysterious ways—
If you start calling on that energy it starts manifesting itself, you've just got to be specific. Don't give me any tickets or anything!

It was pretty good when he started, pretty quickly he was solving things, using his initiative. Because he did seem a bit naive when he first came in. We soon found out that he did have an inquiring mind and was willing to put in the work
Essentially that's what it boils down to. He wants to be a cop, he wants to be a country cop with a place in a community and have a life there. It keeps cropping up with Jack, he won't do things by the book but do it his own way

Which is the way he thinks is right
Which is common sense, mostly. Sometimes he gets lost, he's not always right.

We had a poll up on the website asking who is your favourite Blue Heeler's character. I was really surprised with the outcome because Jack got several hundred votes and that was only three weeks after he started.
Get out of here.

Obviously Maggie and PJ were the most popular, but you've obviously struck a chord with lots of people. Often when there's a new character people won't necessarily pay attention. But to say you're the favourite character straight away, you must be doing a good job. Have you had any feedback?
I had feedback last night, a girl came up to me in a cafe and said aren't you—? It was funny because I had a four-day growth and had been at the beach all weekend. It's when I look my worst that people recognise me–not when I'm shaven and ready for work. She said I really like your character it's come into the show well, he really fits in. And that was really nice because you wonder what you're like in the show. When you're in theatre, you get a really immediate response. With TV it's your parent, your friend who comments and it's really the punter you want to know about, because that's who watches the show full time. That's the wonderful thing about Jack the writers have given him a whole palette of possibilities. He's like a young seed that can grow into any shape of tree that he wants.He can make as many mistakes as possible, and the audience might be thinking don't go there, but he gets away with it because he's still learning..

I think they'd just take it as he's learning as he goes along with everything contributing to what's happening. And it's seems to me that there is room for Jack to be very prominent the future. What would you like to see happen to him?
I'd like to see him, as a person, really come into his full potential. I think for Jack–I think in terms of career–it would be really cool to see where he'd choose to go outside of regular policing as the next step. Special response or forensics or something where he didn't have to deal with so many armed robberies, but problem solving and people.

Do you think he'd miss that field work though, if he was in a lab or—
Yeah, absolutely. There's a huge range of possibility in the police force from drugs to gaming to fraud to murder/homicide. So there's all these different areas and there's alot still available with people, you don't realise that there's that much field work.

So you wouldn't be tempted to join the force?
Couldn't be a walker, whatever they call them. I couldn't do the five years on the beat.

Did you do any research, I know that Martin hung out with the police when he first started.
Yeah I did my time and I have alot of respect, no amount of respect would be enough. They really work hard and they get shitty pay, and they get the shit of society thrown at them every day; rapes, murders, junkies, drugs.

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