Crashburn: articles

Aaron Blabey

The great divide: Aaron Blabey and Catherine McClements play the estranged couple in CrashBurn.

Acting up a delight

"FROM the bottom of my heart," says Aaron Blabey, "it's my favourite job I've ever done, it really is. It's been a delight from start to finish."

Blabey is talking about Channel 10's new drama series CrashBurn by the creative partnership behind SeaChange, Andrew Knight and Deb Cox.

The series, which starts on Monday, tracks a 10-year-old relationship starting with its disintegration. Telling the story from his and her point of view, we see where the couple are now and how they got there.

Blabey stars as Ben and Catherine McClements is his estranged wife Rosie.

"It was a dream gig really," says Blabey wrapping his hands around his latte on a chilly Sydney morning the day after the show's launch.

"I literally ate every single day of this shoot. I'm old enough now to have recognised what I had in my hands, I made sure I enjoyed every second of it. And I know every member of the cast would come running back to do it again."

He is finding the situation a little surreal, it has been months since they finished shooting and he has been buried in other projects. Painting in particular. He has rediscovered a creative outlet he enjoyed as a child but has neglected for about 20 years.

Now, after months of working as an artist, "I treated painting like a job, working eight hours a day", he says, he has been thrown back into CrashBurn and is more in the limelight than he is used to being.

Though Blabey has been working steadily as an actor, on stage, in film and on television, for more than a decade he says he has found it easy to keep his life private.

"This has probably been the most high-profile gig I've done, so that might change that a little bit. I don't know."

But given that he and his wife are homebodies, "We have to be dragged out of the house" he laughs, he will probably be able to retreat into a comfortable anonymity of sorts.

"Generally, people tend to think they know me from somewhere, he says. "Often they're quite suspicious because I've played a lot of hoods, serial killers, so people often look at me kind of, 'Where do I know that creepy looking bastard from?' I get that kind of look a bit."

Interestingly Blabey did not have a burning ambition to become an actor. He grew up in country Victoria and, though he "was a little movie buff", acting was simply not seen as an option.

However, along the way, he fell into acting. "I was seen in a high school play and I was cast in a play in Melbourne. Then a year later I auditioned for Damnation of Harvey McHugh on the ABC."

Though it was his first major role and he had no formal training, Blabey won an AFI best actor award for Harvey McHugh.

But critical praise and awards are the last thing on Blabey's mind. "There is nothing real about acting, nothing real at all. It is really a construct which ends immediately when you're finished," he says, rocking restlessly on the hard cafe chair.

"It is easy to get sucked into it, think it's going to be around, but it's not you know. All the trimmings and trappings people get caught up in, I think you have to have a healthy amount of distance between yourself and the entertainment industry."

But though he has a healthy disdain for all the hot air that goes with the industry he has nothing but respect for CrashBurn.

"This has been such a delight because so often you're doing stuff you don't feel. As the series goes on there is a richness in the comedy. Andrew and Deb have been very acute in picking the right details of male and female approaches to relationships, it's terrific, that's why it was such fun."

Blabey is also pleased with his own performance in the series. He says that theatre has made him a better actor.

"The thing that comes with theatre when you do something like Shout, which you do ad nauseum for such a long time, eventually you can no longer be that precious or you'd just go mad. So you just relax and just go, 'Well I'm not curing cancer, I'm just farting about in a costume'. So my attitude to the whole business has changed a quite a lot.

"I was a bit earnest about it when I was younger. I don't feel like I could have done CrashBurn a couple of years ago and felt as comfortable as I did. I think I would have pushed it a bit too hard or something.

"I think I got better in my acting when I stopped trying to be a really great actor. You put a lot of effort in which creates tension, which, I think, is the one thing that tends to kill acting."

It's an approach that must be working for him. On the day of the CrashBurn launch Blabey was offered the male lead in a film, The Human Touch, to be shot half in France and half in Adelaide.

He is thrilled to be, once again, in work. He modestly says acting has been good to him. The fact is, he's a good actor.

August 13, 2003
The West Australian