Underbelly: articles

Matt Passmore

Matt Passmore stays clothed for Underbelly role

OTHERS might be stripping off, but Matt Passmore's keeping his kit on as a clean-cut cop in the top-notch new series of Underbelly.

Many backsides will be bared in the raunchy underworld drama Underbelly, but Matt Passmore's won't be one ofthem.

The actor scored a highly coveted place in the cast of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, and is proud to say you won't see him stripping off for it.

"I think this is one of the only projects I've done where I've kept my kit on," Passmore says with a laugh.

The same can't be said of his role in The Cut, which premieres on ABC1 on February 23.

"I spend so much time in budgie smugglers in that so it's going to be quite a contrast," Passmore says.

"At least with this one, I keep my clothes on. Being a cop, and a good cop, he's really trying to do the right thing."

But in the tradition of the first Underbelly, there are more than a few Australian actors who shed their clothes.

"That's more of the criminal element and, yes, there's quite a bit of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll," Passmore says.

"I think they've toned it right down so they could actually tell the story because the reality was 10 times more shocking. It was ridiculous."

In A Tale of Two Cities, Passmore plays cop Warwick Mobbs against a backdrop of the drug boom that took hold in Australia from 1976-'86.

"My character's quite idealistic. He's clean-cut, very straight," he says. ‘‘The corruption around him is what absolutely frustrates him."

Passmore's character is involved in the investigation into the murder of anti-drugs campaigner and NSW political candidate Donald Mackay.

"He sees that the investigation hasn't been handled well and he feels partly responsible for it, so he makes a heartfelt promise to Mrs Mackay that he'll do whatever it takes and never stop until he gets the bad guys," Passmore says.

Growing up in Wynnum-Manly, on Brisbane's bayside, Passmore remembers a little of Queensland's own criminal past and the police corruption that played out during the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

"All my family's up there so every Easter and Christmas I do the trek back," he says.

"For Underbelly, I read up on the era and got a feel for all that history. It's so colourful it's unbelievable."

Everyone has this very distinct take on how it was back then."The show's cast has spent months shooting on streets dotted with old Valiants and Fords, along with the dubious hair trends of the day."

There are way too many moustaches and comb-overs. I'm no ‘mo'. I think they actually had to cull the mos, otherwise it was going to become the face of Movember and look a bit ridiculous," he says.

Despite the public interest in the show, filming has gone largely unnoticed."It's felt like a bit of a guerilla shoot. I think it's gone under the radar because the locations are changing daily."

One day we're out at Richmond (NSW) and the next we're down at Warwick Farm. It's all across Sydney in different locations," he says.

Last year, Underbelly stars were regulars at race days and nightclub openings, but Passmore, a regular Play School presenter since 2002, isn't desperate to join the party set.

"I'm much more confident playing pool with mates down at the pub," he says."I think adulation could be quite destructive if you chased it."

By Jasmin Lill
February 12, 2009
Herald Sun