But Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers, and Farris brothers Andrew, Jon and Tim were the sound of INXS.
During their shoot, TV Tonight spoke with three of the actors from Seven’s miniseries INXS: Never Tear Us Apart to hear what it was like portraying real life characters.
ANDREW RYAN (pictured, left)
Plays ANDREW FARRIS: Guitar, Keyboard.
“Andrew’s a bit of an introvert. Very quiet, a bit of a worrier. Much different to some of my other characters,” he says.
“I spent an afternoon with him and he was nice enough to take me out to his house in Manly.
“He was lovely, and very concerned about whether I had spent enough time with him. He was very generous.
“He assumed I played the keyboards and I didn’t have the heart to tell him I don’t.
“I said ‘Nah I don’t really play.’ But he thought I was being modest and he said ‘I bet you’re amazing, aren’t you?’”
Ryan has previously appeared in The Jesters, Underbelly: Squizzy and Reef Doctors. For INXS his role as the band’s composer was pivotal.
But he was trying to cope with having his hair cut, permed and dyed, 80s style.
“I thought playing a rock star I would pick up so many women! But I don’t even want to masturbate!” he laughed.
“Now the curls are going so they’re talking about doing a touch up with the perm. So that means it will last for a month after the shoot’s over!”
ALEX WILLIAMS (pictured, centre)
Plays KIRK PENGILLY: Sax, Guitar, Vocals.
Alex Williams is best know for playing a young Julian Assange in Underground: The Julian Assange Story. He met with Kirk Pengilly to prepare for the INXS role.
“I’ve seen him quite a lot and he’s been supportive and given me his number and said, ‘If you ever need anything let me know,'” he said.
“On Assange I would watch videos and videos, and getting stuff from that. So it’s nice to have someone in front of you so you can feel what they’re like to be around.
“Obviously vocal patterns change and swap as you get older but the general feeling is the same.”
Pengilly was one of the band’s more prominent members, performing back-up vocals to Hutchence.
“He’s a really positive influence. He’s one of the older members, but he’s lovely. Constantly smiling and a great guitarist,” says Williams.
“Back in the beginning he was singing until Michael took over. But it’s great that he was able to take a back seat and say ‘It’s better for the band.’”
It seems Williams is developing quite a reputation for playing real life characters. But it hasn’t been the biggest challenge.
“Playing real people is difficult. It doesn’t get easier because it’s a whole new bunch of stuff. But obviously the instruments were a tough learning curve,” he says.
“There are also 6 members in the band so every scene is a 6-hander. There’s so much you have to clock and so many relationships going on in the one room at any given time. You have to get the dynamic right. Luckily the other 5 guys are great.
“It’s great to be in an ensemble role because the other one was on my shoulders and it was my first gig.”
HUGH SHERIDAN (pictured, right)
Plays: GARRY GARY BEERS: Bass
“He and Jon Farriss were the least reported on. So he’s a bit of a dark horse,” says Sheridan.
“For a while he was labeled Nana Nanna Beers because he seemed quite boring, but he’s not, he’s very cool.
“He’s very funny, but a bit shy on stage. He explained to me that all bands have a front line and a back line and for a band to operate you can’t have two front lines. You can’t have too many personalities in the band.
“And a lot of girls like the shy guys.
“Every once in a while women say to me ‘Are you playing Garry Gary Beers? I loved him!’
“So it’s nice to play a more understated character like this in a show where it’s big.”
Sheridan is well known to viewers for Packed to the Rafters but INXS plays to his strong interest in music. While he has performed in musicals, he put an early recording career on hold.
“When I was starting out on Rafters I did an album with Sony. But the reason I didn’t keep going with it is because I was starting out and it’s really hard to establish yourself as an actor and a musician. In Australia you sort of have to do one or the other, otherwise it just looks like you’re ‘giving it a shot,'” he defends.
“Music is a huge part of my life, easily a passion as strong as acting, and I didn’t want people to think I was just another TV person going ‘May as well do an album because he can hold a note!’”
While he has played real-life characters on stage before, they were no longer living. There’s a little more pressure to get it right when they are still alive.
“It’s easier to do stuff in retrospect,” he says.
“But when you’re playing someone who is alive and they will see it, and will find it very personal, it’s pretty scary.”
Part 2 of INXS: Never Tear Us Apart airs 8:35pm Sunday on Seven.