The Secret Life of Us: articles

Samuel Johnson

Secret weapon

Most television actors get fan mail. Usually it's from viewers writing to say how much they like their character, how they never miss an episode or how they'd like to… meet their hero.

Then there's Samuel Johnson.

As Evan, the resident ladies' man in Channel 10's The Secret Life Of Us and the principal contender for the affections of Claudia Karvan's character Alex, he gets the usual responses. And some that are a bit different.

"They're like, 'As if!', Johnson laughed. "And, I mean, you've got to admit, it was very brave of the powers that be to go with me as the guy who gets the girls.

"I don't have the square jaw, the furrowed brow or the Chesty Bond look which is particular to roles like that… so I think it was a risky decision for them to think I could pass off Evan as actually able to pick up all those girls."

And then there's Evan himself.

He's a writer with a multitude of annoying habits who spends more time sleeping around than actually writing and is, in Johnson's words, "part irksome and part roguish".

Perhaps because he's so different from the stereotypical heart-throb, Evan has struck a chord with television viewers and critics.

With his hair in terminal need of a comb, dress sense leaning more towards op-shop than high street and a serious attitude, Evan's probably the most realistic male lead in years.

Last year Johnson's efforts (and Evan's popularity) were recognised with an AFI award for best actor in a leading role in a TV drama series

This year, however, the accidental heart-throb returns from the overseas trip he took in last season's final episode to find that not everything is going well. When we last saw Secret Life, it looked as though Alex might finally admit there was a chance for her and Evan.

This season, Johnson said, he's back to square one.

"Things aren't exactly how Evan expected them to be on his return," he said.

"There's another man who has come into Alex's life and Evan is understandably upset about that.

"So he sets about destroying any chance he [the guy] might have of establishing a relationship with her… basically he does everything except poison him."

See earlier statement about being a realistic bloke!

"Evan's not just going to let her go that easily—he tries to play it cool, but he's pretty keen," he laughed.

No matter how the romance turns out, it's going to be another fun year for Johnson, who is still coming to terms with his popularity.

"It's bizarre," he said. "I try not to think about it too much but it's fun and it's bewildering and it's a hell of a ride.

"At the time of filming I kind of thought I might be sitting on a pretty good egg, and I suspected it would catch a little bit of attention—perhaps even as much as it did.

"I mean, I looked at the script and the rest of the cast and thought, well, if we miss on this one then… how?

"But as much as you might anticipate it, you never know what it's like until it happens—and it did!"

The Secret Life Of Us, Channel 10, Monday, 8.30pm.

Having a crack at a bit of fun on the side

Evan might be keeping Samuel Johnson's face on the small screen, but keep an eye out for a bigger version later this year.

In the break between The Secret Life Of Us seasons, he worked with radio personality Mick Molloy on a feature film set in a bowls club, of all places. Although still "in production", a sneak look at the cast list shows the comedy will certainly have enough big names to attract attention.

Featured actors include Molloy himself, Johnson, Judith Lucy, John Clarke, Pete Smith (he of the golden voice) and Bill Hunter.

"It's called Crackerjack and it was great fun to make," Johnson said.

By Scott Ellis
February 20, 2002 The Herald Sun