“I haven’t had a full year’s worth of work ever,” admits Don Hany.
“This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever gone from one job to another for a whole year. Who knows if it will be the only one? But it’s a weird job. It’s never really self-sustaining and it’s not necessarily a conduit of working more in the future.”
About to be seen in the pivotal role of in Offspring, actor Don Hany is busier than ever. In the last twelve months he has been seen in East West 101, Tangle, Miracle plus shooting for the Underbelly Files telemovies.
It’s been twelve years since his first ongoing TV role on Breakers in 1998, followed by White Collar Blue in 2002 where he worked with Steve Knapman and Kris Wyld (East West 101). In those early years Australian drama was struggling, but he has held on long enough to see the tide turn.
Hany told TV Tonight that back then Australian drama was under seige from Reality television.
“That was around at the time of Big Brother and Idol mania, and those shows eclipsed the numbers that any Aussie Drama could bring in. Buying foreign content made more sense and networks were in that tough situation where they couldn’t afford to spend a lot of money on Drama unless it was going to rate.
“I was lucky to leave drama school and join Breakers, which employed me for a year. Between that and White Collar Blue I was able to jump from guest roles and theatre.”
In the mid 2000s while drama largely languished, Hany worked in the US. But after returning to Australia his role in East West 101 saw him lauded by critics as Detective Zane Malik. This year he won the Most Outstanding Actor award at the Logies.
Now as paediatrician Chris Havel in Offspring he puts his action role to one side for the chance to play the object of affection for Nina (Asher Keddie).
Hany says producers have created a show that offers an alternative to a drama landscape crowded in crime shows.
“John (Edwards) and Imogen (Banks) are always seeking to investigate that little thing about dysfunctionality and neurosis that is symptomatic of our generation which has made us so much happier in front of computers and kept us away from family. People live inside their heads so much these days, and in front of TVs and computers. There’s an interesting ‘disconnect’ we’ve developed with each other,” he says.
“The premise of this show is about a woman who gets in her own way all the time. So it’s a character that people will readily be able to identify with. She’s funny and she does what we all do, which is manufacture absurd versions of what’s happened in her head.
“There’s a heightened reality. Because we afford ourselves the ability to live inside her head we can go anywhere. So it’s got an absurdism, or ‘magical-reality,’ tht allows us to go to places that normal drama doesn’t fit into.”
The character of Chris Havel is that of a young father who moves to Melbourne from Brisbane, with a past that will be revealed. Working alongside the whimsical Nina, he is initially elevated into something close to a matinee idol.
“Chris lives in her head for a while. So Nina is the straight person a lot of the time until the scenes between Chris and Nina. In those scenes she’s dealing with her neuroses a bit more than what she normally is. Chris is usually left a little bit confused at the end of those interactions,” says Hany.
One balcony scene written by scriptwriter Debra Oswald is already beginning to follow him. Nina looks longingly at a relaxed Chris, while her voice-over pines “The neck! The neck! I have to kiss the neck!”
But Hany says the shoot was a lot less romantic.
“What’s funny is when we shot that the continuity guy was in the background doing the voice-over. ‘Ahh-the neck-the-neck-I-have-to-kiss-the-neck.’ It became like this homoerotic thing and I kept laughing. It was so not sexy!”
Offspring airs 8:30pm Sunday on TEN.