Photo Credit: Lesley Bryce
Nathan Lovejoy, who plays Principle Swift on the Disney Channel’s “Gabby Duran and the Unsittables”, kicked off his career playing ‘Borkman’ in the Australian comedy series “Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane”. In addition to his role as the eccentric ‘shape-shifter’ on the aforementioned live action comedy series, the Tasmanian-born thesp is also known for his work on “The Good Place”, “The Code” and “Deep Water”. He’s already signed for a second season of “Gabby Duran & The Unsittables”.
Where about from Tasmania are you from, sir?
Launceston! It is up at the top bit of Tassie, which is down the bottom bit of Australia.
Did you kick off your career back home before tackling LA?
I did! I trained at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney (NIDA). After graduating I went on to work in TV and theatre in Australia. Particularly in the theatre to begin with.
What motivated the move to the US? I imagine there’s more limited opportunities in Australia?
Exactly. A country of 25 million people vs a country of 320 million means there certainly are a lot more opportunities here. I never imagined I would wind up in L.A. There’s a degree of self consciousness I felt about coming out to ‘Hollywood’ but there’s so much more content being created here and more of a willingness to work with new faces I think. And that doesn’t necessarily reflect negatively on Australia, it’s just the reality of a bigger marketplace. There are amazing things being made in Australia too and I can’t wait to get back there and continue to contribute to our industry.
Tell us how you snagged the role on “Gabby Duran and the Unsittables”?
I auditioned for it! First with casting, then producers and the network. So the story goes, that initially casting were a little reluctant to see a 6’ 7’’ man for a role playing against very small children. Fortunately my manager had a connection to one of the show runners and pitched me to him personally. I eventually got in the room and rest is history!
Have you ever held an authority position like your character in the show? Did that experience come in handy?
You know I’m not sure I have really. I used to teach a bit of acting but I was hardly an authoritarian. Once upon a time I was a nearly pro basketball player (surprise, surprise) and I certainly dealt with my fair share of crazy coaches. If anything I feel like I’ve seen a lot of what not to do. Hopefully I’m channeling some of that positivity into Swift.
How alike are you and Swift?
We look remarkably similar. We’re both aliens too! He’s an outer space alien and I’m a resident alien. A resident alien is a permanent resident in the United States. Essentially it’s another way of saying ‘lawful immigrant.’ We’re both aliens trying to come to terms with being somewhere new. And as much as Australia isn’t all that different from L.A. It’s still an adjustment.
Think you could do his job for a living? How different might you be in that position if it was handed to you tomorrow?
I think I could make a decent go of being a Principal! I fancy myself as a good people manager. I think you need to be a good listener, compassionate but also know when to put your foot down. Perhaps I’d be a little better at the detail than Swift. I’m not sure he necessarily has all the skills just yet. He’s learning.
I imagine the whole school experience is very different in Australia? How so?
Not all that different really. I think High School is a pretty universal experience. There were jocks, geeks and everyone in-between. I kind of straddled the two worlds being an athlete and a theatre nerd. The food in our cafeteria might have been a bit different. And we called it a tuck shop. Popular menu items included; shepherd’s pie (meat pie with mashed potato on top), chips and gravy, dim sims, sunny boys (flavoured ice blocks). It really was the height of healthy eating, I think things have improved since I was at school.
Do you remember your principal? Is there a little bit of him or her in Swift?
I don’t! I just had to Google him in fact. Robert F. Pierce, I salute you! I think it was more the Vice Principals that did the heavy lifting at my school. I remember one was Mr Buckingham; slightly plumby accent, flashy dress sense – there’s probably a bit of him in Swift somewhere.
The show has some fun sci-fi elements. Are you a fan of the genre?
I am! I love Stranger Things of course and Flight of the Navigator was one of my favourite films as a kid before I graduated to The X-Files.
If you could get in on one of these big superhero franchises what would you like to be in?
I would’ve been a good Thanos but I guess that ship has sailed! Probably something in a Batman film, one of the villains!
Tease us anything about the upcoming season!
Stay tuned and you might see Swift throw down on the basketball court with some middle schoolers!