Actor Damian Walshe-Howling is best known to us for his roles in Underbelly, Blue Heelers and in TEN’s new Bikie Wars, but he has his sights set on a directing career, having just completed the short film, Suspended.
“I’ve just finished my second film that I wrote and directed which will be at the St. Kilda Film Festival with Damon Gameau, Leeanna Walsman and Clare Bowen. It’s shot by Denson Baker (The Black Balloon, Oranges and Sunshine),” he says.
“It’s been an amazing experience and I’m looking at getting into more writing and directing.”
Unlike many of his peers, this year he decided to forgo an annual US trip in order to focus on his own talents.
“I usually go to America and do the usual dance around for Pilot season but I decided to stay back this year and concentrate on my own projects. So for the moment that’s where I’ve been directing all my energy.”
His first self-devised film was 2007’s The Bloody Sweet Hit with Oliver Ackland, Tom Wright, Sue Jones and Damien Richardson.
Right now he can be seen in TEN’s six part miniseries Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms playing one of the Campbell brothers in the Bandido club.
“I play Chopper who is a bit of a larrikin,” he explains.
“The Campbells are quite well-known for their fighting skills. They’re very strong and committed to the club.”
Walshe-Howling is no stranger to playing real persons in true life crime dramas, but such roles carry greater responsibility.
“It’s like when I played Benji in Underbelly. Andrew Veniamin had passed away at the time we made the series but there’s still a whole lot of other ways to access (research). In this case we’ve basically taken everything from the script and our work with (director) Peter Andrikidis, and the script comes from the book.
“The shoot itself was quite dynamic. Having to grow a beard and put on weight, quite a few physical changes took place too. It was a very physical role to play because there are a lot of rough scenes. At times it was quite intense.”
So sensitive was the material that producers went to great lengths to keep many of the locations quiet from the general public and media.
“It’s always the case that they keep things pretty quiet with shoots these days, like when we made Underbelly. But I don’t really think about those things too much while I’m working. I just focus on what I’m doing.
“Everyone was really involved in the story and wanting to bring a human element to it. As with the original Underbelly that I did, wastes the humanity of the story that drew everybody in and related to it so strongly.”
With any true crime drama, there is also concern for that those who were directly impacted, but Walshe-Howling explains his focus as an actor is on the character.
“My sense of responsibility is to the script, which comes from the book. It’s something that happened in the public arena. But for me, Screentime treat the stories with the greatest amount of respect and integrity, and that’s the level to which I get involved.”
Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms airs 8:30pm Tuesdays on TEN.