When Ryan Corr first started in television, on shows like The Sleepover Club, Silversun, Blue Water High and later Underbelly and Packed to the Rafters, he had one eye on international glory.
But he’s gone on to such success that it’s no longer top of mind. Instead Corr is following those whose work he respects.
“I’m at the very lucky stage now where, in this country, I get to choose the sort of projects that I’d like to be associated with and what I think is interesting. I usually try and follow, as a rule, writers and directors. People whose work I really like and creative teams and producers who push the boundaries.”
“Ideas that 10 years ago would have been too outside the box.”
Seen most recently in The Secrets She Keeps and Bloom, and acclaimed for his work on Holding the Man, Corr maintains there is a shift in the kind of projects that are emerging.
“I think it’s a really interesting time in Australian content… ideas that 10 years ago would have been too outside the box. I’ve got my eyes peeled for shows that are interesting and fresh and taking risks, to a certain extent.”
His latest is SBS supernatural drama Hungry Ghosts, set in Melbourne’s Vietnamese community.
“When I first read the script, I couldn’t quite put my finger on the pulse of where it sits in terms of fantasy. Shawn Seet, who I’ve worked with before, has a pretty incredible eye for bringing worlds together,” he continues.
“It’s got this sort of underlying element of different histories and people’s past: cultural and personal colliding.
“My character has a gift passed onto him”
“My character has a gift passed onto him early on in the series that means he is able to see the material versions of his lost patients.
“It’s very Sixth Sense.”
Corr plays young doctor, Ben Williams, who is even given a mysterious message by a dying grandmother, and the responsibility to pass it on to May Le (Catherine Văn-Davies). It’s the trigger for a relationship, of sorts, between the two.
“It’s a romance born of something interesting”
“It’s certainly not the cliche boy-meets-girl. Their romance finds its roots in dealing with these traumatic experiences and through being in the supernatural part of the world we’re creating together. They are really the only two that can speak about it with each other. So it’s a romance born of something interesting,” Corr explains.
“And it’s only touched on and alluded to, more so than explored.”
The supernatural elements of the story, dramatising the annual Hungry Ghosts festival, are part of the rich tapestry of the miniseries by Matchbox Pictures. Corr admits he hasn’t visited Vietnam, but surrounded by Vietnamese performers, food and culture he’s now adding it to his wish list.
“That’s why I’m blessed to do this job.”
“I hadn’t played anything like this before. The platform in which it launches off, this ‘supernatural realism’ let’s call it, is very much embedded in Vietnamese culture, but also in multicultural Australia.
“It deals with histories of characters now and a history of immigration and policy… all these things are tied together. I hadn’t seen anything like it before.
“That’s why I’m blessed to do this job. You get a myriad of history lessons and culture lessons on whatever project you’re doing.”
Hungry Ghosts airs 9:30pm Monday Thursday this week on SBS.