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What’s tough about kissing a bloke, apart from two days growth? After suffocating a friend, it’s no big deal, Vince Colosimo tells Andrew L. Urban, as they talk about Colosimo’s latest role as Charlie in Walking on Water.

When talking about his leading role as Charlie in Walking on Water, the first question I ask Vince Colosimo is how he felt shooting “that really tough scene… suffocating a dying man…a friend”. Colosimo sits up; “Oh that tough scene, I thought you were going to say ‘kissing that other bloke’!” We both laugh. “Well I guess you’ve answered the question,” I say.

"Less is always more…that’s my motto for film acting"

“Well, I thought that’s what you might perceive as a really tough scene,” he says. “The suffocating…yes, that was tough. Number one because we were in that room for so long…gawd, we spent nearly a week around that bed with him lying in the bed…incredibly draining. But it all helped with what we had to feel for that particular scene. I found it very difficult…even approaching it was very difficult. But it was a matter of just doing it. Not thinking twice, just doing it. And then, the film is about the repercussions later on. So just get it over and done with. And the way we shot the film I could do it that way because that was quite early on and a lot of the stuff we shot afterwards. And I didn’t want to layer it too much … with a 35 mm camera looking at you with a close up, you don’t want to do too much or you’re throwing yourself all over the place. Less is always more…that’s my motto for film acting.”

So what about kissing another bloke? “Well, I asked him to go and have a shave! It’s f**kin’ awful. I felt great sympathy for women who have to kiss men with two days growth. And actually I didn’t think it was tough for me…I thought how tough is this going to be for people who know me? Me mates, me mum and dad…and all those people. Are they going to make that f**king transition? Are they going to see it as I’m doing it? They never do. You can talk till the cows come home, they don’t make the transition like you do. It’s something they’re going to go “woa” at ‘cause they know you very well. But that’s OK. The shock value is good. Another of my mottos is: ‘always surprising’… doing something that pulls people up short.” 

In brief, the film is about death, grief and the sometimes odd way people deal with it all. Charlie and Anna (Maria Theodorakis) are Gavin’s (David Bonney) two best friends. They made a pact to assist Gavin to die when the time came. Now it's that time, and despite a massive overdose of morphine, Gavin remains alive. In a panic, Charlie slips a plastic bag over Gavin's head and holds it tight. Suddenly, having spent 18 months looking after Gavin, he is redundant. He becomes increasingly alienated both by Anna and his own feelings of guilt for his part in Gavin’s death. He is wracked with feelings he cannot comprehend – an overwhelming loss coupled with guilt at still being alive, and at being responsible for such an ugly death. Charlie turns to his boyfriend Frank for support, but Frank is too young for this kind of responsibility. Charlie fumbles around for answers but instead finds solace in a morphine bottle. Gavin’s brother (Nathaniel Dean) and his family are also hit hard, as is Gavin’s mother (Judi Farr), who turns up – unwanted - at Gavin’s death bed …. And as the tension mounts, the group of family and friends implodes.

“When I first read the script,” says Colosimo, “I thought it was really interesting…but I was really surprised that they were interested in me for the role of Charlie. I didn’t see myself in that role. I knew I could do it but I didn’t think other people looking at me would see me like that. It was a lovely surprise. After meeting Tony and seeing how passionate he was about the film and what he wanted to do with it, it was comforting that he was in charge. I felt he trusted me – which goes both ways.”

As producer Liz Watts explains, “Vince Colosimo came to our attention because we’d heard rumours about his sensational performance in a film called Lantana which was yet to be released. Director Tony Ayres, writer Roger Monk and I had all seen Vince in films such as The Wog Boy and Chopper, in roles which are on the other side of the planet compared to that of Charlie in Walking on Water. But since we knew it was a risky role for someone anyway, we thought we’d go out on a limb. We knew from Vince’s other work he had an amazing range as a performer.” 

"charisma and ease of presence"

On auditioning Vince, Ayres says, “His charisma and ease of presence made him stand out. He also has the kind of physical presence which makes him one of the few genuine leading men in this country at the moment. We had our Charlie.”

Published September 26, 2002

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