Blackjack: articles

Colin Friels

A tough road to walk: Colin Friels struggles to earn a crust.

Arrested development

ACTORS don't come more self-deprecating than Colin Friels.

He is filming a major role in the ABC mini-series Bastard Boys, is set to play Bob Rose in a film about the footy legend, and on Sunday will be seen as rogue cop Jack Kempson in a new instalment of Channel 10's BlackJack.

But though he has made an indelible mark on the Australian film and TV landscape, Friels somehow has it in his head that his career is on an inexorable downward spiral.

"I love BlackJack and I wish we could do more of them (he has completed four yet to screen), but I just don't know what the future holds," he says.

A lack of government funding of the arts, Friels insists, has left the film and TV industries suffering.

"John Howard and the boys have squeezed the bloody life out of it," Friels says. "He (Howard) is a vain, doddering little idiot.

"One of the great problems we have in Australia is that we live in a deeply materialistic, racist community.

"Our present government is racist. We need a vibrant arts community because it fosters thought and discussion. It creates public debate without fear of having to be politically correct.

"We must have an intelligent and funded arts community if we want to grow as a society.

"The way things are going for me, I'm hoping I'll be able to get into my super soon. I know this is coming, my day of reckoning."

Though he has carved a career in film and TV projects including Malcolm, Ground Zero, Water Rats and The Term of His Natural Life, Friels, 53, is adamant his track record counts for little as he confronts an uncertain future.

But he is at ease about the possibility he might have to take jobs outside acting to make a dollar.

"It doesn't frighten me in the sense that I'm prepared to do a whole range of things to get by," he says.

"I know a builder and I said to him recently that I'd be happy to give him a hand. But he said I might be a bit old for it. But I live on a farm and I'm continually doing manual work.

"At one stage I spent three to four months overseas with my wife (Judy Davis) while she was working and I did a couple of things (Dark City and Class Action) where I had to put on an American accent and I felt like a total d---.

"My future in acting, if I have one, is in Australia. I'm not hard on myself, I know the truth.

"It's always uncertain when you work in this business and (apart from the Bob Rose project) I've been offered zilch to do.

"I've never worked on big-budget movies. It's not as if I get paid a whole lot for doing this. On Solo (the recently released movie), I got paid about $4000."

By Darren Devlyn
August 16, 2006
The Herald Sun