“I don’t see myself as an actor. I have a very limited range and fortunately ‘Dave Davies’ falls into that narrow range of something I can do. But I can’t audition. I can’t do drama classes. I’m not a chameleon,” insists Mick Molloy.
On the publicity trail for the new comedy series The Jesters, Mick Molloy can’t get away from his straight talking, laconic style. He drops great quotes and vivid media recollections into the conversation that work as something of a win-win.
And it’s no doubt part of the reason he was cast as cynical, retiring comedian-turned-producer ‘Dave Davies’ in Movie Extra’s behind the scenes look at a TV sketch show.
Molloy says the role created by writers Angus FitzSimons and Kevin Brumpton is eerily familiar.
“I’m trying to work out at what point they wanted me to do the role. At the end of the day it’s playing a showbiz arsehole who’s in the twilight of his career. It was a very awkward pitch for the boys I have to tell you.”
Whilst similarities with The Chaser will be obvious, Molloy says it’s merely a ‘leaping off point’ for the story.
“The Chaser comes up a lot but it’s not about the guys, it’s about the power and the effect they’ve had on the public. So it’s about that style rather than the boys themselves,” he says.
“Had the boys written this 20 years ago it might well have been written around The Late Show or whatever. I put my hand up and say I have been involved in all those earnest discussions which sounds like you’re trying to save the world but you’re really just trying to get a root.”
Yep there’s those press quotes.
He also says that there was no intent to draw parallels between his role or that of Andrew Denton, either.
“Andrew Denton’s never crossed my mind once either in my preparation of the role or my understanding of the character,” he says. “Denton’s a very witty, civilised, urbane character. Now what’s the opposite to that? Probably, me. So I don’t think there’s any murky border where ‘Dave Davies’ and Andrew Denton meet I’m afraid.
“A svengali-style producer is not an unusual character in this world.”
In his veteran role in The Jesters, Molloy is also working under somebody else’s domain. As a performer who has frequently developed his own projects, it represents a bit of a career detour. It’s one he is happy to pursue where the script is good enough.
“I’ve been fortunate to be involved in some very good TV and some spectacular failures. I’ve run the gamut but I really like this one. It’s a really well observed, smart, Australian narrative comedy. We don’t do many of them.”
He particularly enjoyed just being a performer and clocking off at the end of the day.
“It’s all care no responsibility,” says. “I used to laugh going home at the end of the day knowing that those two guys would have to go home looking at rushes, read schedules for the following day, realise Steve Vizard’s fallen over in his hotel room hurt his back and can’t film…. I sat there going ‘Yes! Yes, it’s someone else’s problem, not mine!'”
In The Jesters Davies’ ‘old-school’ comedian is tested by the new breed of university comedians he mentors. While they tread cautiously through a comedy minefield, Davies is an unsubtle dictator, ambushing his way to the top of the ratings ladder.
Molloy says the blunt characters isn’t so far from blokey Aussie television executives he’s met along the way.
“It’s almost like they’re playing a part. What’s even more bizarre is in commercial TV the very successful women are very blokey as well. It’s like a pissing contest”
Molloy knows a lot about those contests, given he famously urinated on the set of his own Channel Nine set live on air.
Still, from what TV mythology now tells us, it wasn’t necessarily out of step with the climate at the time.
Of one nameless Channel Nine executive he says, “We were talking about women we were going to use on our show, and he said, and this is a quote, ‘When it comes to the women this is the deal. Their tits can’t be big enough and their hair can’t be blonde enough!’
“Now if I said that as Dave Davies, you’d think ‘That would never happen!’ You couldn’t get away with it.”
In The Jesters he sure gives it a good try.
The Jesters airs 9:30pm Tuesdays on Movie Extra.