Underbelly: articles

Nathan Page almost missed role

HE stands out from the rest of the cast as Ray "Chuck" Bennett in the early episodes of Underbelly, but Nathan Page nearly said no to the pivotal role.

Nathan Page admits he initially turned down what could be a career-making role.

Page, a former world-class team and individual pursuit track cyclist and open road racer, had to walk away from the role of the armed robber in the hit series after filming dates clashed with a cycling event in New Zealand.

"I said yes to a racing outfit in New Zealand to go and race for nine days on a tour and then I got the call saying I had the role and these were the filming dates," Page said.

"They were the same dates as the tour and could not be changed, so I had to let it (the role) go. I could not let down this racing team, they were all friends of mine.

"So it was with great relief a few days later they called back and said actually those dates have now changed and I could do the new dates.

"Then I had the great difficulty of going over (to New Zealand) and racing in horrendous conditions, with 150 bike riders, and thinking, 'Please do not come off and break your collar bone. Now is not the time'."

Page retired from full-time cycling in 1991.

He trained at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, held several national records, won various national championships and held a world record.

"I left it and I got completely lost and did not know what to do with myself," Page said.

"I was lucky because I fell in with a bunch of creatives and thought I should really do something to scare myself again, and got into a little Tuesday night drama class."

The classes led to three years at drama school.

Page has since appeared in numerous stage productions, the films Sample People and Noise, and has had guest roles in several TV dramas.

"I love cycling and still ride every day, and I still compete, but acting is far more important to me," he said.

Off the back of the Underbelly publicity, Page plans to head to Los Angeles.

February 23, 2009
Herald Sun