A Ballarat-born actor is hitting his stride, going from acclaimed TV series, to Sundance, to now being in contention for a major grant recognising Australia’s rising stars.
Aaron Glenane was announced in late August as one of 10 finalists for the Heath Ledger Scholarship, a prestigious prize for young Australian actors to the tune of $US30,000, including airfares to Los Angeles and acting coaching.
While Matt Damon and Naomi Watts will judge judge the award, he said it was simply “surreal and moving” to be mentioned in the same sentence at the late artist Ledger.
I love characters that live in the grey area ... It allows you to head down paths you wouldn’t have necessarily explored before, and you have to kind of wrap your head around how to justify their actions.Actor Aaron Glenane on picking villainous roles
“What inspires me about [Health Ledger] is his fearlessness to just push the boundaries within his own capabilities, to me it seemed like he never wanted to do the same thing twice. That is kind of what I aspire to as an actor,” Glenane said.
Glenane’s filmography is already incredibly diverse and distinguished, having appeared in Puberty Blues, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Channel 7’s Molly mini-series. He will soon be seen in the highly-anticipated Ride Like A Girl, chronicling Ballarat identity Michelle Payne’s journey to the Melbourne Cup.
The 32-year-old actor grew up in Ballarat North, “just around the corner from The Golf House and tenpin bowling”, where much of his family still resides.
A Ballarat High School graduate, he first graced the city’s stages in a 2001 BLOC production of Oliver! after having his arm twisted by his Mum, Trish.
“I was pretty sporty growing up, I didn’t think of acting. The only reason I got into acting is because I was so shy, and I wanted to play in the NBA, and my Mum had said ‘If you’re going to play in the NBA, they’re going to want to do interviews after the game, you better learn how to speak in public.’
“She swindled me into it, knew what I loved and twisted on itself.”
Of his work on upcoming feature Ride Like A Girl – co-starring Sam Neill and Teresa Palmer – Glenane said the highlight of playing trainer and jockey Patrick Payne was the chance to act with the real Stevie Payne, who he admits may just outshine him.
“I asked him what he was going to do at the end of this. ‘Y’know, so once you’re done with this are you going to head back to Nottingham Farm with Michelle and keep training the horses?’,” he said.
“And he was like ‘Nah, I think I’m just going to make another movie.’ And I was like ‘ah, Stevie, you legend!’ He’s onto a new career path now.
“It’s always really special to be able to tell a story about your hometown, and I don’t think those chances come along very often, so when they do it seems kind of crazy not to jump at it.”
While admitting he’s got a penchant for picking the nasty roles, like that of his Sundance Film Festival-debut Killing Ground (“I find them incredibly fascinating and challenging to try and bring to life in a full, rounded way”) he was suitably stretched by the spectre of music promoter Michael Gudinski in award-winning series Molly.
”Everyone I talked had a point of view of who Gudinski was … that was something I didn’t see coming,” Glenane said.
He’ll soon be on screen in Danger Close, perhaps Australia’s first true Vietnam War film, from Red Dog director Kriv Stenders.
Capturing the 1966 Battle of Long Tan, where hundreds of inexperienced Australian soldiers were expected to fight in South Vietnam, Glenane said the picture was “long-overdue”.
“The Vietnam War is unique in the way that soldiers came back and they were shunned and disregarded,” he said. “A lot of those people who served, all those stories have been lost or tucked away or not acknowledged, and they just seem to be getting recognised in the last few years.”