“Nice guys are characters I have traditionally played. So you could be forgiven for thinking that playing a role like this was a challenge,” Alexander England says.
“But I really enjoyed getting into the psychology of someone who is different to myself and the people I associate with. It was interesting to research and explore these kinds of characters in society.
“We are talking more about male violence in all its forms -physical and emotional- and this is increasingly a social conversation we are having.
“Hopefully this a springboard to talk about it more.”
England is referring to his role as Jakob Novak, the villainous stalker of Seven’s miniseries Secret Bridesmaids’ Business.
Jakob has an affair with a married woman, Melanie (Abbie Cornish), which spirals out of control after she breaks it off. As the series unfolds he begins to target those around her as his malevolence detours into thriller territory.
“The villain is often the catalyst for different things”
For England, whose credits include Offspring, Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story, Paper Giants: Magazine Wars and The Beautiful Lie, the role allowed for plenty of high energy scenes.
“I think the villain is often the catalyst for different things. You’re playing a character that sets the ball rolling, and that’s certainly the case with Secret Bridesmaids’,” he continues.
“His actions cause a lot of precipitous events to unfold. And it is heightened emotion as well, so that’s fun to be working with.
“He was fun, but at the same time it was a great joy to shake it off every time they called ‘Cut!’”
“It’s exciting to be in that ‘gaslighting’ territory”
But Jakob is also a wolf in sheep’s clothing. England was the perfect choice by producers to portray his duplicitous nature.
“When MaryAnne Carroll rang me about the role she was saying how important it was that his character comes across as charming and a nice guy convincingly, because that’s how people operate in society and are able to do the things that they do,” he explains.
“They are often great ‘actors’ who are very good at playing the role, playing a part for different people. In this instance it’s women ….what he thinks they want, and the ability to take it away.
“He’s a dark and twisted person. It’s exciting to be in that ‘gaslighting’ territory. An emotionally manipulative realm.
“He’s a manipulative narcissist. Someone who gains self-esteem by lowering those around him and punishing people who don’t acknowledge his ‘superiority.’”
“That equates, on some level, to British drama”
Secret Bridesmaids’ Business also features Georgina Haig, Katie McGrath, Dan Spielman, Annie Jones, Nicholas Bell. Based loosely on a play of the same name by Elizabeth Coleman, it marks a renewed push by Seven Studios to see local drama selling internationally.
“It’s quite a contained story. We closely follow a handful of characters. That equates, on some level, to British drama,” England suggests.
“It also has an element of the locations almost as a character. A lot of effort went into shooting the Morning Peninsula and it’s amazing how it pays off with those drone shots.
“There are sweeping shots of the ocean and fog rising off the vines.”
Two final episodes of the series will broadcast, with episodes available at 7plus. Seven is also screening the series with one minute commercial breaks, in a move designed to keep viewers watching.
“It’s great. It speaks to how excited they are about it. They’re willing to make sure it’s seen in the best possible light.”
Secret Bridesmaids’ Business airs 9pm Tuesdays on Seven.