It’s the best ‘worst year’ of Ned’s life

2014-04-15_0002At just 18 years of age, actor Ned Napier is in the middle of the best year of his life. And the worst.

Napier stars in ABC3’s newest local fantasy-comedy, The Worst Year of My Life, Again.

Napier features as schoolboy Alex King, forced to relive the most excruciating 12 months of high school all over again.

“He’s a 14 year old boy who happens to have a very unfortunate year where everything goes wrong. Literally, everything goes wrong,” he explains.

“The first half of each episode is what happens the first time and then Alex goes back in time and has to relive the same year.”

Humiliated by his teachers, targeted by bullies and embarrassed by attempts to impress the most popular girl in school, he wakes up on his birthday to discover that somehow time has reset itself.

“It’s not actually explained, so it leaves it open to a bit of interpretation,” says Napier.

“Maddy Kent (Tiarne Coupland) is one of Alex’s best friends and she seems to think it’s some sort of paradoxical universe, where no matter happens it will restructure itself and something similar will happen to last time.

“She thinks the universe will course-correct so that everything will go back to how it was the first time. She thinks there is one overall goal Alex has to achieve by repeating the year.

“My character accepts it pretty quickly and says ‘This is great! I had such a bad year last year I can make everything so much better!’ He learns but he doesn’t put it into effect every episode. He always thinks he can change it, but he just can’t.”

While the fantasy device sounds similar to devices used in Groundhog Day, Napier says he avoided watching the film.

“I didn’t want to see it because I didn’t want to do what other actors did, but it was thoroughly explained to me.”

The ABC3 comedy is Napier’s first major role, one he didn’t think he had a shot of landing, after what he says was a terrible first audition.

“I had exams and I’d just been at school. I was hot, sweaty and I didn’t know my lines because I had been studying for Year 12 exams. I’d only ever done theatre before so I was huge, massive, and I’m very lucky that Lou Mitchell who cast this managed to see through that,” he admits.

The series produced by Bernadette O’Mahony and Ross Allsop features a young cast culled from 270 auditions, plus adult actors Annie Jones, Syd Brisbane and Jeremy Stanford.

“It is unbelievably fast-paced. Joke after joke after joke, then a little calmed-down conversation before it moves back into the jokes,” Napier explains.

“(Drama coach) Alison Whyte has helped us so much. When we’re a bit low on energy she comes over and gives us hints to perk us up. And Pino Amenta is a vastly-experienced director.

“For pretty much all of us it’s the first thing we’ve done, so it’s been great to have someone share their experience and knowledge with us.”

While Napier is grateful for his first television acting role, he maintained his studies while filming but aspires to the careers of discerning actors.

“Guy Pearce does big blockbuster movies to fund his own smaller roles. It would be really good to not get typecast into one sort of role, so I can experience a huge amount of roles.”

For now he’s keeping his feet on the ground, while seeing the lighter side of it all.

“I’m scared I’m going to go back in time and not get the role!”

The Worst Year of My Life, Again premieres 6pm Saturday April 26 on ABC3.

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