David Wenham was set to fly to Vancouver to star in the Netflix drama series Pieces of Her when the producers were forced to shut down production on the day principal photography was due to start.
He was to have joined Toni Collette and Bella Heathcote in the eight-part thriller based on the 2018 crime novel by Karin Slaughter from the all-female creative team led by Charlotte Stoudt, Bruna Papandrea, Lesli Linka Glatter and Minkie Spiro.
Scripted by Stoudt and to be directed by Spiro, the series is set in a sleepy Georgia town where a random act of violence sets off an unexpected chain of events for 30-year-old Andy Oliver (Heathcote) and her mother Laura (Collette), a speech therapist.
Desperate for answers, Andy embarks on a dangerous journey across America, drawing her toward the dark, hidden heart of her family.
In a webinar yesterday with Adam Cook, head of acting at Actors Centre Australia, Wenham said Netflix has assured the cast and crew of all Netflix productions they are still contracted and filming will resume as soon as it is safe to do so.
Wenham will play Jasper Queller, a character from Laura’s secret past life.
In a wide-ranging conversation the actor, who is with family in Brisbane, said he is keen to do more directing after helming the semi-improvised micro-budget feature Ellipsis, which starred Emily Barclay and Benedict Samuel.
Asked by Cook how he handles being rejected for roles, he said: “It doesn’t worry me any more. I honestly don’t care.”
After graduating from the now-defunct Theatre Nepean, initially he saw himself purely as a theatre actor and had no aspirations to work in films or television.
David Wenham in ‘300.
For such an accomplished and admired actor with more than 100 credits, it was a surprise to hear he is still prone to feelings of self-doubt.
Cast against type as the brawny Spartan Dilios in Zack Snyder’s 300, he feared he would be fired every day until half way through the shoot when he figured that would not happen because it would be too expensive for the producers.
Even today, he said, there is a “constant battle with that little voice in your head.”
While he was mostly full of praise for directors, not least Jane Campion and Garth Davis in Top of the Lake and Davis again in Lion, he expressed frustration with one recent gig.
The director, whom he tactfully did not name, considered his job was to tell actors what to do, he said, remarking: “That was fatal.”
He advised young actors to sometimes say no to roles they are offered, as hard as that might be, stating: “When in doubt, leave out.”
Asked by one Actors Centre Australia student how he comes out of character, particularly when those characters are dark, he had a simple answer: As soon as he steps off the stage or set and takes off his costume, “I’m back to being me.”