Grass Roots: articles

Taking on a weighty role

CHRIS Haywood can see a few ironies in the character he plays in the ABC local government comedy series Grass Roots.

In the series the Australian television veteran plays the gruff and overweight Arcadia Waters Council's director of planning and building George Hasnakov.

In real life the 54-year-old actor is relatively lean and a member of a community group that lobbies the local council

Haywood wore a fat suit to achieve "George the Gorge's" physique a costume which ironically made him lose weight.

"We filmed it in the middle of summer so because I was wearing this suit I became thinner than I've ever been," Haywood says.

"Perhaps I could start my own weight-loss plan."

Haywood, who recently starred in The Nugget and Black and White, was eager to join Grass Roots when the offer was first put to him in 2000.

"I don't think there's enough political satire in this country so I was very happy to be involved in it.

"I think it's very important that a country has a laugh at itself."

Another attraction was that "just about everybody can associate with the characters" of the local council. Haywood certainly does.

As a patron of Bondi's Friends of the Library he has seen plenty of local council machinations and the unwitting comedy which results. After developing a literary award, Haywood says he saw the council go from "keeping it at arm's length" to "claiming it was their idea".

"I was ready for it though, because I fully understand the workings of it all now," he says.

The ABC will repeat the first series of Grass Roots over the summer before the show's second season, which Haywood says "continues the story and gets even more exciting and convoluted".

The Daily Telegraph
January 09, 2003