IMDb lists 57 credits over three decades for Vince Colosimo but according to the man himself there’s one role that follows him wherever he goes: Underbelly‘s Alphonse Gangitano.
“You get caught up in an iconic role, and it’s really hard to shake it off,” he reveals.
“I played Alphonse for 2 weeks and that rides me every f***ing day. Every day –in a good way and a bad way.
“People say ‘You were f***ing great as Alphonse Gangitano!’ So whenever a role comes up, unless it’s a hitman or gangster or mafia, people say ‘Vince isn’t right for that. He’s Alphonse!’ They don’t see it as you being a capable actor…. They typecast you because you were good.”
So successful -and notorious- was the Nine miniseries, that Colosimo is still asked about reprising the role.
“It became so big and so talked-about that people thought it had to go on forever.
“People say ‘When are you going to do another Underbelly?’ But my character died! He’s f*** dead!”
This year Nine is returning to the Underbelly brand in the form of a new take on Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. One of Colosimo’s 57 credits was Neville Bartos in the acclaimed Chopper movie with Eric Bana. He is dubious about a new version.
“When has there ever been anything second time that was better?” he asks.
“(Eric Bana) was loved in this country, and he still is. But he hasn’t been able to shake it off. The thing about Bana –and I love Eric, he was my favourite comedian in this country even before that, him and Glenn Robbins- he’s gone away and done a bunch of films, but I think he yearns to be recognised as more than just Chopper. And that’s the problem sometimes.”
“Maybe I haven’t done enough ‘Dramedies!'”
Colosimo’s latest role is however far-removed from underworld gangsters, playing football coach Mark Spinotti on ABC comedy-drama The Warriors.
“I’d never heard the term before. Maybe I haven’t done enough ‘Dramedies!'” he jokes.
“I’m either Comedy or Drama, and I sort of like it that way…. ‘Right I’m going to try and be funny today!’ Comedy is the hardest thing. I’m much more comfortable with Drama. But this has a little bit of both elements.”
“It brings me back to the days when I started.”
The series surrounds rookie players drafted to a team at the bottom of the AFL ladder, and includes several newcomer and Indigenous performers.
“The 4 leads are where the heart and soul of the show is,” he reflects.
“It brings me back to the days when I started. When I did Moving Out all the main cast were new to it. I had no experience and we were put in front of a 35mm camera and a big crew, and we had to bring the script to life. It was scary and fun, and I suppose they are feeling all those things now.
“But the bottom line is as time goes by it doesn’t matter how big or small the sets are, you have to stand in front of the camera and make that real. No social media can advance that skill.”
Colosimo was just 14 when he was cast in the 1982 feature film and 16 when he was catapulted to teen idol status in Street Hero which preceded formal training at the Victorian College of the Arts.
“It was enormous. I remember going to shopping centres and doing appearances all over Australia,” he recalls.
“I wanted to play football when I was younger. I didn’t have time because I decided to go to college and do Drama.
“I auditioned for a lot of different Drama schools and got into VCA. I still happen to be the youngest graduate in Drama. I went in before I turned 18 and graduated before I was 21. Most of my peers were mid 20s because one of the pre-requisites was that you’d had experience in the workplace.”
For The Warriors he has based elements of his character to Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge.
“I like his manner and his calm way, he flew under the banner,” he continues.
“He was quietly spoken and I thought he brought a manner into the club. They were underdogs and you wonder why they brought someone like that into the team. It seemed to work.”
While his character adopts ‘new age’ training practices, Colosimo remains a traditional, one-eyed Carlton fan. But as he knows too well, anyone with 57 credits to their name, has to adapt.
“I still have a bit of the ‘old school’ in me, but I think as we move along he has a different tact.”
The Warriors airs 9:30pm Wednesdays on ABC.