The Strip: articles

Aaron Jeffery stripped bare, before Nine's drama The Strip

HE'S managed to go from job to job, but life hasnt always been easy for this Aussie TV star, writes Darren Devlyn.

It's been suggested the actors who make the job look the easiest are those who work the hardest.

Perhaps Aaron Jeffery is one of those performers.

He is a man of bear-like proportions, but part of his appeal is that he can lay his soul bare on the screen.

There is little doubt Jeffery's life experiences good and bad have added an all-important element of humility to his acting.

The New Zealand-born actor had a troubled adolescence and was penniless when he arrived in Australia 22 years ago.

He slept on the streets and on factory floors before finding his feet in Sydney.

Graduating from NIDA in 1993, he scored roles in Water Rats, Fire and Blue Murder. Jeffery has also shown his performance depth and range in the Craig Monahan films The Interview and Strange Planet.

But before agreeing to play the meat in the chick flick sandwich Alex Ryan in the long-running Nine drama McLeods Daughters, Jeffery had walked away from acting to study theology and work as a farmhand in Culcairn.

Jeffery felt he needed time in the bush to reconcile the troubles of his past.

Abused as a child, he lived in a caravan as a teen.

He'd been an angry young man hanging with a very rough crowd.

"I wasn't disillusioned with the business of acting. I just needed to take time out for myself," Jeffery says from the Gold Coast set of Nines new cop drama The Strip.

"I love being on film sets. I'm happiest when Im working and I love being a part of a team when that team clicks. It's exhilarating."

After six years on McLeods Daughters, Jeffery divided his time between Sydney and Auckland, where he filmed a role in the Kiwi drama Outrageous Fortune.

He has also completed shooting on Hugh Jackman's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the film Beautiful.

"I feel blessed that I've been able to go from job to job," he says.

"I don't know the answer as to whether the show (The Strip) will be a hit or not.

"But if you find a true ensemble cast, which we have here, I think nine times out of 10 the result is going to be great."

The Strip, following City Homicide and Underbelly, aims to trade on the appetite that audiences have for local crime drama.

What sets The Strip apart from the others, Jeffery says, is a style and pace inspired by its setting.

"I love working hard and fast. This… suits me," he says.

Jeffery plays Det-Sen-Constable Jack Cross, a tough cop who has relocated to the Gold Coast in the hope of patching up a broken marriage.

Cross is joined on the beat by Det-Sen-Constable Frances Tully (Vanessa Gray), a local who has deep insight into all that's bad on the coast.

Jeffery and Gray's co-stars are Simone McAullay, Frank Holden and Bob Morley.

The Gold Coast is a great character in itself and this is a unique slice of Australian culture, as opposed to filming in Sydney or Melbourne, Jeffery says.

"This gives us a real advantage. It has its own topography and weather, and there's a lot of money here.

"That lends itself to a certain lifestyle. It can be a transient kind of town and an attractive place to live.

"Then there's the strip itself and the fact there's a lot of licensed premises.

There is a bit of dodgy behaviour going on."

Jeffery brims with enthusiasm about his role in the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, however he is loath to say too much about the film for fear of revealing the plot.

"I can't say much, but it was a fantastic experience being part of the film… It was the biggest sandpit I've ever played in," Jeffery says.

"It was a dream to work with the director, Gavin (Hood)."

Jeffery's main challenge is balancing work commitments with his private life.

He has a four-year-old daughter, Ella-Blu, with ex-wife Melinda, and strives to be with his daughter on weekends.

"She's a blessing in my life," he says of Ella-Blu.

He has previously said separations from his daughter have been hell… the hardest time of my life.

Jeffery also says hes moved on from a 2006 court case that resulted in him receiving a 12-month good behaviour bond for assault.

It was tough, he concedes, seeing his private life played out in the media through the court ordeal.

"It's difficult, but you learn that you can't control (the media)," he says.

"Everyone goes through (hardships) like that in life and I'm no different."

The Strip, Thursday, Nine, 8.30pm

By Darren Devlyn
September 03, 2008
The Daily Telegraph