Underbelly: articles

Underbelly's Matt Passmore destined for US TV stardom

UNDERBELLY has made Aussie stars of all its main actors. Now word on the street is that its detective Matt Passmore is set to make his name on American TV.

Matt Passmore knows all about the disappointment that can come with choosing an acting career. He invested heart and soul into Last Man Standing, The Cooks and The Alice only to see them quickly axed.

His luck turned with a role in McLeod's Daughters. And this year, he's proved a hit in Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities and he has shone opposite Gold Logie winner John Wood in The Cut.

Now he has been cast in the lead role of the US TV drama pilot Masterwork.

In the project, from Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring, a male FBI agent (Passmore) joins a female MI5 agent (Natalie Dormer, The Tudors) in a worldwide hunt to recover stolen artefacts.

A sort of The Da Vinci Code meets The Amazing Race, it could make Passmore as big a US star as The Mentalist's Simon Baker or Without a Trace's Anthony LaPaglia.

It's fair to say Underbelly has boosted Passmore's prospects both here and overseas.

Passmore, who dates actor Rachael Carpani, is a strong presence as good cop Warwick Mobbs. Mobbs has spent most of Underbelly chasing shadows, but is now leading the charge against drug kings Terry Clark (Matthew Newton) and Robert Trimbole (Roy Billing).

Passmore's Mobbs is memorable for a couple of other reasons as well: he's one of the few New South Wales detectives who isn't corrupt and one of the few characters who doesn't whip off his clothes at the drop of a hat.

"The feel of Underbelly is fantastic," Passmore says with a laugh. "We all have dodgy hair.

"I look like a '70s version of Michael J. Fox, but it's a good gig. My character is based on two separate guys and they were pretty unavailable, so mine's a bit more of a basic story.

"I keep my kit on in Underbelly, but I was in the budgies (Speedos) quite a bit in The Cut. I had to play out a scene in which I lost my trunks, so I had this tiny, skin-coloured G-string on. That was a 'How's your father?' day for the crew, working with my little friend."

According to Passmore, Underbelly's Warwick Mobbs has something in common with Andrew, the hapless son of rogue agent Bill Telford (John Wood) he played in The Cut.

"Most of the characters I have played have been cocky -- the 'cheating-on-women' type of guys," he says. "It was nice to get a guy who has this standard, moralistic, has-his-own-values quality, who's a little bit uncomfortable with all the other side.

"Warwick makes a heartfelt promise to Donald Mackay's wife that he will do whatever he can to find out who did it (killed Mackay). He's more of an idealist and he brings his heart to it."

When Passmore is busy playing cops and robbers, the 33-year-old draws on his life in the army as much as possible. He spent three years in the army before studying at NIDA.

"I certainly don't regret it," he says of his army days. "It made a man out of me. That was what my parents said when I came home: 'Wow, you're a man now'. I learned some amazing skills."

By Darren Devlyn and Erin McWhirter
April 29, 2009
Herald Sun