Stingers: articles

Daniel Frederiksen

Daniel enters Leo's den

The laidback charm of Daniel Frederiksen won him a sought after role. Kylie Miller meets Stingers' new recruit.

For an actor who has landed a coveted role in an enduring Australian drama, Daniel Frederiksen seems remarkably grounded.

So grounded, in fact, that despite landing a starring role in Stingers—and the security and salary that accompanies it—Frederiksen still works part-time in a video store.

"Actually, I've got some shifts this weekend," he says, laughing.

Lounging on a sofa in Channel Nine's Richmond headquarters, the lanky 28-year-old with chiselled cheekbones and startlingly blue eyes sips flavoured milk from a carton and chats about the winding path that brought him to acting. He laughs a lot, is disarmingly candid and self-deprecating.

Frederiksen, who grew up on a "hobby farm" near Kyneton, north of Melbourne, says he always wanted to act.

"I had bizarre fantasies about being adored by millions of people… From the age of five, I suppose, I wanted to be an actor. It's sad, really. It shows a lack of corrective guidance."

Father, John, a social worker now working in health care management, and mother Marilyn, a reading recovery teacher, "toed the party line with the New Age parenting thing of 'Do whatever you want, just make sure you do something else to back it up,'" he jokes.

Their young son didn't listen. "No, unfortunately. I'm not skilled in any other area of life, other than the very unskilled profession of acting." Long pause. "Although I can brush my teeth. And I'm a good breather. Very regular."

Despite his early ambition, it took years for Frederiksen to commit. After attending several schools, including spells as a teenager in New Zealand and the US, he dropped out of high school in year 11, returning in 2001 to complete year 12 at his parents' urging.

"The guilt finally got to me," he says, only half kidding. "I like study, I just think it's something you acquire—or it was for me—finding out, one, what you want to study and, two, to be passionate about it, rather than being told you should. I've never been good with 'You should' or 'You must'!"

He enrolled in NIDA, fulfilling a childhood dream encouraged by his grade 3 teacher, Mrs Noble, but was disappointed with tertiary studies and dropped out, again, at the end of his second year.

After drifting along as a waiter, flogging cars in Bendigo and looking after troubled kids as a residental care worker, he decided it was time to knuckle down.

"I wasn't terribly reliable for those few years and you kind of really have to be for acting," he concedes. "Turning up to things and also being committed to it. It didn't really come easily to me, I had to work on it."

After a couple of years of theatre—he remains actively involved in St Kilda's Red Stitch theatre company—guest roles on TV series and sobering periods of unemployment, his first big break came last year when he was cast in Blue Heelers as Dr Josh Carmichael, love interest to Tess Gallagher, played by former NIDA classmate Caroline Craig.

When the three-month stint ended he landed a role in Mermaids, an American pilot filmed on the Gold Coast. The Stingers role, as rookie undercover cop Leo Flynn, came up at the same time.

"He's there to be the pretty looking young guy on the show and to bring in the young audience," Frederiksen says of his character.

Are you saying you've been cast for your looks?

"Completely. And I'm quite happy with that because I have nothing else going on! And even the looks are dubious, so I was very happy with that. It's good to be an object. Women have been objects for long enough, now it's time for us to get involved."

Not quite true, but not entirely wrong, says Stingers producer John Wild, of the casting.

The Leo Flynn character was initially written with a much younger and physically different actor in mind. Several were screen-tested but none quite made the cut.

Then someone suggested Frederiksen. He'd previously auditioned for guest roles at the suggestion of Stingers star Roxane Wilson, a regular at his video shop.

"I thought he was too old and too tall and too everything," Wild says. But his screen test was "captivating" and Frederiksen won the role, which was rewritten to suit the actor. "We massaged the character to suit Daniel's performance because it was just so compelling."

Frederiksen, says Wild, brings his own attitude to the character. Both have been drifters, are easy going and fit easily into their surrounds. "He's a very cool gentleman, Daniel. His personality is cool without being arrogant."

Frederiksen admits he draws heavily on himself to create the character. "I'm trying to be as natural as I possibly can. I'm pretty new to all this."

He is also enjoying life as a working actor—and the first steady income of his career.

"I'm just so glad to have the job," he says. "I've been unemployed and I know what it's like.

"Actors I know work their arses off doing amateur theatre, doing co-ops and not making a cent. It's not a career I'd recommend anyone going into."

He recently blew $10,000 on a "huge" TV and plans to enjoy the money while it lasts. And just in case it doesn't, there's still always the video shop.

By Kylie Miller
June 05, 2003
The Age