Aaron Pedersen as Jay Swan.
While many actors may fret or obsess about where their next role is coming from, Aaron Pedersen has a simple, unfussed approach.
“I take the despair out by believing you get the jobs you deserve to get,” he says after receiving his second AACTA nomination – best lead actor in a TV drama for Mystery Road.
“Your career is about longevity. I am forever grateful for being able to do the things I want to do.”
It’s a philosophy which has sustained the 48-year-old through a career spanning 25 years. It’s his second nomination following a nod for best lead actor in The Circuit in 2010.
Bunya Productions’ Mystery Road is vying for the best drama prize with Easy Tiger Productions’ Jack Irish (in which he plays Cam, the sidekick to Roy Billing’s Harry Strang), Jungle Entertainment/Blue –Tongue Films’ Mr Inbetween, Easy Tiger’s Rake and FremantleMedia’s Wentworth.
Pedersen’s Jay Swan was the pivotal character in the Ivan Sen-directed movies Mystery Road and Goldstone and now the TV series. “Jay Swan has been very kind to me: He’s kept me out of Centrelink,” he quips. “He’s a great character and he doesn’t need much dialogue.”
One of the attractions of the first series was working with Judy Davis, an experience which he likens to being treated to a three months long masterclass in acting.
The series has rated strongly on the ABC and the UK’s BBC4 and it screens in the US on Acorn TV. The ABC has greenlit the development of a second season for which Pedersen has already discussed storylines with the writers.
Pedersen is currently on cinema screens in Stephen McCallum’s 1%, a crime thriller which co-stars Matt Nable, Ryan Corr, Josh McConville, Abbey Lee and Simone Kessell.
He plays Sugar, a bikie gang leader who puts a price on the head of Skink (McConville), the younger brother of Nable’s Knuck, the president of the Copperheads Motorcycle Club. “That was a lot of fun although I had to spend hours in the makeup chair getting tattoos,” he says.
Next up he will head to Western Australia to join Garrett Hedlund, Kelly Macdonald, David Wenham, Chris Haywood and singer-songwriter Julia Stone in Dirt Music, Gregor Jordan’s adaptation of the Tim Winton novel.
Macdonald is playing Georgie, a sometime sailor, diver and nurse who is stranded in a remote fishing town with Jim (Wenham), a man she doesn’t love, and his young sons. After she embarks on a passionate affair with Lu Fox (Hedlund), a musician and poacher, Lu retreats into the wilderness,
He is cast as Beaver, a complicated, lonely ex-con mechanic who occasionally talks to Georgie, letting slip some of the secrets of the town and Jim’s past. “It’s a challenging piece with a great cast,” he says.
After directing an episode of The Circuit, does he hanker to direct features like his mate and Jack Irish colleague Guy Pearce? “I’m 48 now. From 50 onwards that’s something I’d like to do,” he says.