Interview : Nathan Phillips – Australian Rules


"Australian Rules" really put Australian actor Nathan Phillips on the map. Now in L.A, Phillips talks to Moviehole about his next few films – Warriors of Virtue II, Take Away, and One Perfect Day – as well as how he’s trying to swindle the lucractive Hollywood film industry.

I hear you’re in L.A Now, did "Australian Rules" pathe the way for that?

Yes Aussie Rules was my means of attracting U.S agents and managers who saw the screening at Sundance this year. I came over two months ago with Aran my agent to meet with a few of them and am now doing the whole La La land scene. This entails auditions, meetings and of course hanging about the wicked Venice beach!

Have you had good feedback about the latter movie?

Yes, it has been nominated for awards at the AFI’s and was very popular at the Melbourne Film Festival. I was nominated for some awards so that tells me someone thought I did alright. But importantly my parents, brother, grandma’s and mates laughed and cried, that’s a real buzz.

How was the Warriors of Virtue sequel?

Well it was amazing in the fact that I spent two months in China. Celebrated my 22nd birthday with a bottle of red wine on the inspiring Great Wall of China. Learnt a bit of Chinese, played up at some sorted Kareoke restaurants, learnt how to do wire work as seen in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, weapon work, dodging real fire bombs, taking the occasional wayward punch or kick, attempting an American accent and how to survive a non english speaking film crew. The best thing was the incredible people I met, ecspecially New Zealand gentleman, husband, father and actor Kevin Smith who had a special impact on me.

Who do you play in it, and when’s it released?

I play the lead Ryan Jeffers and it’s released on Dvd through Miramax sometime this year, I think. I saw it finally and for what it is it’s pretty amazing. It’s an action fest entertaining hour, I hope for those who liked the first film that they enjoy this one. Kevin is stella as the villain.

I also here you’re appearing in my good friend, Dave O’Neill’s movie "TakeAway" – can you tell me a bit about that?

Well firstly I am sorry to hear you know Dave, JOKE! TakeAway was a lot of fun, an amazing cast. Steven Curry and Vince Collosimo are fantastic guys who are great to have lunch with or even dinner. I play the fish n chip assistant Dave. His kind of your surburban kid, not motivated by much in life except good TakeAway food. I got to try to bust moves on the legand Rose Byrne, that was da bomb. My good friend and amazing talent Tom Budge who is Pickles in Aussie Rules is also in it and is importantly, very funny. This was my first comedy type flic so it was nerve racking as I was around so many witty talented actors so I just stuck close to them and let the script do the work. So thanks Dave and Toolio!!!

How was filming "One Perfect Day"?

Very challenging stuff, a tight budget, self funded through the great team at Lightstream films. An extrodinary script and my character of Trig was a conflicted character. I liked the diversity of his nature. Trig seemed to want out of his drug dealing ways and wanted something more out of life. Dan Speilman’s inspiring character of Tommy motivate’s Trig. Dan, Leanna Walszman, Andrew Howard, Abbie Cornish, Kerry Armstrong, and Rory Williamson are all sensational. Paul Currie was a passionate, relentlessly hard working director. The crew was simply rocking, everyone did more than what was asked of them and we all had a "party party party" time making this rollar coaster of a film. How could anyone not enjoy performing at outdoor raves, indoor raves in front of thousands, the scenic Lorne and All about my favoutite place, rocking Melbourne.

Which co-star has made the biggest impression on you?

Well definately Kevin Smith. Being away from my bro, parents and mates was hard. Kevin became a mate, a role model a Dad a person who showed me that life is love, love is happiness. He loved his family so much, he loved acting, he loved travelling, loved sport and seemed to light up a room with his presence. He was humble and witty and was simply real. We talked about everything, drank together, ate together, sang and played guitar together.
And this guy could sing the house down, ecspecially any Elvis song or Voodoo child by Jimmy Hendrix. I am still at a loss about his death, he was gold. In eight weeks Kevin showed me alot about living, and I am so thankful for that time we shared. I mean who could not love a guy who strips off on the Great Wall of China, (he was very buffed), in freezing minus degrees temperature’s to take a photo for his wife.

Hows everything going in LA – any offers yet?

Very very good, I am here kicking it getting call backs and playing the game. Who know’s what’s around the corner?

Do you still get recognized as TeaBag from ‘neighbours’?

Yes around Melbourne, by people being mostly my mates who yell it out in the most embaressing places and start to scream and ask for autograph’s getting me attention when I don’t want it. They love to feed it to me, It’s so funny for them cause they know the real Philsy!!!

Finally….do you play footy?

Of course I’m a Melbourne boy! I played down at supertswood as a kid in the RDFL and in the Amateurs. I support good ol Hawthorn! Go the Hawks! Loves me footy, loves it!

AUSTRALIAN RULES is released on Video 8 January, 2003