Exclusive Interview : Vince Colosimo

He may be co-starring opposite Leonardo Di Caprio and Russell Crowe in a new pic but Australia’s Vince Colosimo tells CLINT MORRIS he’s got no plans to permanently pack himself off to Hollywood.

Colosimo, 41, has been working in film and TV for the last twenty five years – his vast array of credits include Street Hero, Chopper, Walking On Water and recently, the acclaimed TV series Underbelly – but is only now catching the eye of Tinseltown.

Colosimo’s first taste of SAG-sponsored work was with a role on the final season of American TVs The Practice and later, a guest spot on the Anthony La Paglia-starring series Without a Trace. Off the back of his work on those, Colisimo’s U.S agent got him an audition for Body of Lies, a political thriller Ridley Scott would direct with Di Caprio and Crowe as the leads.

“Ridley said he knew me, and had seen me in a few films – and I got the part”, the actor says. “It was fairly easy”.

Colosimo didn’t know what to expect from Scott – and didn’t speak to close mate Eric Bana, who’d worked on Scott’s Black Hawk Down, before hand about what to expect – but was bowled over by his benevolence and more so, sense of humour.

“He’s a bloke’s bloke – he has a great sense of humour. I liked how he knew my work, and respected me – as I did him”.

Body of Lies is based on Washington Post columnist David Ignatius’s 2007 novel about a CIA operative, Roger Ferris (Di Caprio), who uncovers a lead on a major terrorist leader suspected to be operating out of Jordan.

Crowe plays Ferris’s indifferent agency contact back home, Ed Hoffman.

Though he doesn’t share any scenes with Crowe, Body of Lies was the first time Colosimo – who plays Ferris’s sidekick in the film – had worked on a film with his fellow countryman.

“I’d never worked with Russell before – we’d come close to it, Eucalyptus being one, but that never happened – but I knew him. When I finished my stuff, he sent me a lovely note. He’s a lovely guy.”

The actor has just as many kind words to say about Di Caprio, who he says doesn’t have as fabulous a life as the magazines make out.

“He’s a great guy”, says Colosimo, adding, “The guy has spent half his life on far-away film locations. His profile is so enormous – it doesn’t matter where he is in the world, he has to hide. He’s become so introverted. The guy just can’t go quietly – he’s always got people around him. He has security around him all the time. It’s full-on for him”.

Another star of Body of Lies are the locations. Whilst some spots were absolutely beautiful, some spots were just heart-rending to look at.

“Morocco, at night, was amazing – but then some of the other places we went to were just sad, a lot of poverty. There’s two types of people there – the rich and the poor. The king’s are trying to settle the love, and make it all even, but it doesn’t look like its happening.”

“We had thousands of extras there, who were being paid twenty bucks a day and they thought that was an absolute fortune.”

Those that have seen Colosimo’s performance as ‘Skip’ say they’re impressed – not that the impossibly modest actor is completely convinced.

“I don’t know what to think”, Colosimo says of his own performance. “I saw it with a couple of friends. It’s hard to gage what people are thinking. I know for me, whenever I saw myself on screen I was taken out of the picture. I guess it was just because it was surreal”.

The Melbourne-born actor says working on Scott’s film was a totally different experience to say working on a small Aussie film like Chopper or Take Away. “It was a major epic. It cost a hundred times more than anything else I’ve ever worked on – as far as money is concerned. I had to pinch a couple of times – I was sitting around with Leo Di Caprio, having a laugh, and we’re about to go out and be directed by Ridley Scott. It’s the same as here in many ways, we’re all just doing our jobs, but when they say ‘action’ there there’s a lot more money at stake”.

It’s been a great year for Colosimo. The actor is especially proud of Underbelly, Channel 9′s controversial gangster series, in which he played ‘The Black Prince of Lygon St’ Alphonso Gangitano.

Production has already begun on a prequel series. “The next instalment is ’75 to ’85. Then, next year, they might do ’85 to ’95 – and the character I play will come into it again. So I’m not in this next one, but if they get all the clear to do it, I’ll be in the next one”.

Colosimo will next be seen in is Carla Cametti, a new SBS series starring Diana Glenn.

“We finished filming that about a month ago – more than that, two months ago. It’s a six by one-hour drama”.

Film-wise, Colosimo will be seen in the new vampire pic Daybreakers, co-starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe. The movie, directed by the Spierig Bros (Undead), was shot in Queensland.

“It was meant to be released at the end of October… November… but I think it’s been delayed and probably won’t be released till next year now. It’s a great vampire flick. I’ve seen a lot of it – bits and pieces cut together – and it’s great.”

And does Colosimo get to wear a pair of plastic fangs in the film? “We’re all vampires in it – most of us are, anyway.”

The actor says it’s not of the Queen of the Damned vein. “It’s actually good – and I’m not even much of a fan of vampire films. I’m not even much of a sci-fi fan. It’s been drama for me the whole way.”

According to the Internet Movie Database, Colosimo is also attached to a couple of other Aussie movies – Last Man, starring with Guy Pearce and Joel Edgerton, and Last Dragon : Search for the Last Pearl.

“[Last Man] is still totally, totally, up in the air. I haven’t heard anything about it for years. I heard it’s coming around again but I haven’t been notified of anything. And Last Dragon is a film that’s hopefully happening but again that hasn’t been confirmed. It’s a family kid’s flick with Sam Neill”.

If Body of Lies is a one-off and Colosimo never works in the states again – unlikely to happen – he’s fine with that. He’s just glad he got to do this one.

“I learnt so much on this film. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and wisdom. That’s all that matters”, says Colosimo. “You go where the work is. I’m not going to say ‘I’m going to Hollywood – I’m outta here!’ because it doesn’t work like that”.

BODY OF LIES commences on Thursday