“Over the years I’ve played bad guys in all of the major dramas: All Saints, Water Rats, Blue Heelers, Janus,” says Rob Carlton.
“It’s more the low-level guest star. Come in, shoot people, threaten people, scare people. Noise and movement, colour and sound. I guess it’s fair to say I’ve got one of those heads that annoys audiences.”
But he’s not complaining. After all, as many actors know, playing the villain is often far more fun than the hero.
Now in Family Movie Channel’s big-budget miniseries, Carlton plays a villain by the name of ‘Vulkan Sligo.’
“It’s a name straight out of your bad guy hitlist. It’s a cool name!” he laughs.
Both Carlton and Julia Zemiro are rivals to 15 year old Callum Ormond (Harrison Gilbertson). The 12 part action-adventure stands as the most expensive production Pay TV has ever undertaken.
“We play the clear and present dangers, if you will. We are clearly against Cal, he’s the lead. We want what he’s got. So we want him and we want information.
“In the course of the 12 episodes we’re there and our goons are running around after him.
“But this is a step-up. He’s not just a low-level goon, he’s a thinking man’s bad guy.”
Based on the teen-market books by Gabrielle Lord, Conspiracy 365, is nothing if not ambitious. Premiering one episode each month is not common in the Drama genre.
Episode Three will premiere this Saturday night on FMC. But does the scheduling make it harder to attract a following?
“When I first heard of it I thought ‘I haven’t heard of that before’ and it worried me. But looking at it again and the kind of audience they’re wanting, it starts to make a lot more sense,” says Carlton.
“For the younger viewer there are repeats and the number of times they want to watch it again is very real. So there’s a sense of watching it, talking about it at school, being able to watch it again, they can go to the website, they can do all of those things.
“With the website they’re trying to deepen the engagement with the audience. So it will be fascinating to see how it plays out for distribution and audience-reach.
“Pay TV has to look at where its advantages lie, and this could be an advantage. The notion of multiple plays over one month. They’re spending a lot of money on the show so I can understand why they’d want to have a drum to beat for twelve months not three months.”
Carlton recently was in the news when Nine announced it had cast Lachy Hulme (Offspring, The Hollowmen, Beaconsfield) as Kerry Packer in Howzat! After his acclaimed performance in Paper Giants, many presumed he would be recreating the role in the biography of the media mogul for Nine.
But he wished the project well and has been staying busy with other roles.
He is currently appearing in Any Questions for Ben in a somewhat surprising role.
“I play Josh Lawson’s Dad. They aged me up and they say it works. We played brothers together in Chandon Pictures and now I play his Dad,” he laughs.
“I got the craziest text message from Jane Kennedy saying ‘Rob, this is a weird one. We want you to play Josh Lawson’s Dad. We know, we know! But it requires a certain something and we can’t find it in people the right age so we know you can do what we want you to do. So we’d much prefer to age you.’”
In ABC’s upcoming Mabo he plays Paddy Killoran, the protector of Murray Island, a role spanning 3-4 decades.
He also appears in P.J. Hogan’s Mental alongside Anthony LaPaglia and Rebecca Gibney.
Of Hogan, he says, “His passion and commitment to an idea is inspiring.”
Carlton also operates a lucrative business hosting and organising corporate events -a passion he loves almost as much as performing.
But for the next 9 months he can be seen as Vulkan Sligo, tightening the noose, figuratively, around one Callum Ormond in Conspiracy 365.
Conspiracy 365 airs 7pm Saturday on FMC.