Sean Keenan has come to the defence of actor Josh Lawson, following the screening of the FremantleMedia-produced drama on Seven and revealed he had his own panic attacks taking on the role of the young Crocodile Dundee star.
Reviews and social media comprehensively noted the wig Lawson wore as looking fake and distracting.
“It’s pretty harsh to target one actor and his hairpiece. There are masses of people putting this stuff together, so you can’t just focus on 2 minor things.” said Keenan.
“We are inundated with these biopics on TV at the moment. I thought Josh did a good job and he was passionate about it.
“I was only there at the start and I know I had a lot of fun with my stuff. Hoges is a funny character but (maybe) the humour has not stood up over time as well as one would have hoped.”
Keenan was largely praised for his performance, while Lawson copped a barrage of criticism despite both studying videos and literature on Paul Hogan.
“I watched a lot of footage and so did Josh, listening to a lot of Hoges talking. But he didn’t get to meet Hoges. You get the feeling there is 2 sides to the guy: the public image and the family stuff which he tried to keep private,” he continued.
“Hoges was so great because he was ‘uncopy-able,’ in a way.
“I had more freedom because I was playing the young Hoges.”
Keenan’s portrayal of Hogan showed him falling for a young Noeline and raising a growing family. Yet he had plenty of inner doubts too.
“I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I had moments where I had panic attacks ….because Hoges is so Hoges,” Keenan admits.
“But I worked my butt off because I was freaking out. I didn’t want to come off as a caricature. You are limited physically, you are limited by your voice in what you can do. I had the freedom of playing a younger version that no-one is familiar with.
“I just worked hard to try and capture the spirit of him. There are some things you see in him that you try and accentuate in yourself –that’s the best that you can do.
“Josh is a tall, handsome guy –not that Hoges isn’t- but physiologically there are differences that you can try and make up for.”
Keenan is currently filming Glitch for ABC and is currently on screen as a legal aid in the Claudia Karvan-led Newton’s Law.
“He’s their go-to guy. He doesn’t have any formal training, so he does things his own way,” he explains.
“The show leans heavily on the laughs, which I didn’t see as much (when I read the scripts) but as it progressed it evolved. And that’s something I haven’t necessarily done too much of.
“It was fun to get away from the ‘drama’ a bit and go to something lighter.
“Not too much worries him. He sees problems even if they’re insanely difficult as pretty fix of you just go about it your own way, outside the law.”
Newton’s Law has received mixed reviews, but Keenan says the rewards will come for patient viewers.
“It’s a slow burn but it definitely warms up. It has some kooky elements and was a lot of fun. We had opportunities to play with characters and have input, which was nice,” he claimed.
“It’s lighter, not that gritty, but easy-sailing to watch. In some ways there is something nice about that.”
Newton’s Law airs 8:30pm Thursday on ABC.