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With two of his films opening in two weeks in Australia – Love’s Brother (April 1) Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (April 8) – Adam Garcia is streaking up the star ladder, tap dancing to success … and barely avoiding mummification, as Andrew L. Urban discovers as they meet in a Sydney café.

The scene: Adam Garcia, playing Gino, is running along on the dock beside the ship that is leaving, with his girlfriend Rosetta (Amelia Warner) on board. Streamers are flying. He is waving and running, running and waving, as the streamers keep on multiplying, filling his eyes, mouth, wrapping around his head, virtually mummifying him as he runs. Garcia, now recalling the incident over a coffee in a Sydney waterside hotel, is smiling. “I hope we’ll see it on the Love’s Brother DVD, in the outtakes,” he says after re-enacting the mummification, complete with head, hand and eye movements. Fellow patrons of the café pretend they don’t notice.

But considering the nature of film making, if this is the worst it got, making Love’s Brother was a sinch. “Yes, it was a great experience,” he says, “ everybody on the set on both sides of the camera was really enthusiastic and keen and that makes a great difference.

"a great time"

Garcia also points out the pedigree of many involved, from Oscar winning hair and make up artists to cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (Lord of the Rings) and the team of writer/director Jan Sardi with producer Jane Scott, of Shine fame. Sardi, he says, “is gentle, reassuring, innocent and generous … I had a great time working with him.”

And then there is Giovanni Ribisi, “of whom I’ve been a lifelong fan,” says Garcia. “It was an absolute honour to work with him, and I just tried to feed off him every moment I could, trying to learn …. He’s an actor’s actor, he really loves acting, has been acting since he was very young and really knows every trick in the book. His focus is impeccable.”

The film is set in 1950s Australia, when two young Italian brothers Angelo (Ribisi) and Gino (Garcia) are following their cultural traditions as they seek wives and a happy life in their new country. Angelo, the elder, has been trying to find a wife in Italy by correspondence without success. The local matchmaker finds him a new possibility in Southern Italy, the beautiful Rosetta (Amelia Warner), and he begrudgingly tries again – but this time, he includes a photo of his handsome younger brother, instead of himself. Rosetta is smitten and agrees, and a marriage ceremony is performed even before she gets on the boat to Melbourne. On her arrival, the situation is revealed and Rosetta is as conflicted as the two loving brothers – and nearly as much as Gino’s fiancée, Connie (Silvia de Santis).

"support and doors for new opportunities"

Love’s Brother happened to fit into his schedule perfectly – by chance. Having moved to America, Garcia is one of those artists who not only stretches across media (stage, screen, tv) but across disciplines (dance, sing, act). And across the world: his manager, Peter Safran of Vrillstien-Grey is based in Los Angeles, as are his agents at ICM, Chris Andrews and Daisy Wu. But he is still with the agent Peter Brooks in the UK, who guided the first nine years of Garcia’s career.

In Australia, he is represented by the RGM agency in Sydney, and publicity is in the hands of Laura Aron at Flagship PR in London and IDPR in Los Angeles. These are Garcia’s ‘people’ – a team who provides support and doors for new opportunities. Like the London audition for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new show, The Woman In White. But Garcia is downbeat about his chances: “I did a terrible audition,” he confesses. “I’d just got off the plane from New York and sang for Trevor Nunn, which was terrifying in itself, then I had to do a Shakespeare monologue, and I’d never done one and kept forgetting it … I don’t think anything will come of that audition unfortunately.”

More enjoyable was his media stint in New York, promoting Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Garcia is relaxed and enthusiastic about his career. Tussled dark hair and open necked shirt help make him even younger than his boyish 30 year old face suggests. He sips his cappuccino and gets excited by talk of work. It’s a passion, but not all consuming: after our interview, he is heading for a family dinner with a new baby niece.

And movies are not the only game in his town: originally a dancer, Garcia leapt from stage to screen and back again in a career with shows like Hot Shoe Shuffle, which took him to the West End for a series of great roles including Tony in Saturday Night Fever. He came back to Australia to star in the film Bootmen, directed by Tap Dogs founder Dein Perry, then flew to Hollywood to make Coyote Ugly and his personal landmark role (directed by Penny Marshall) in Riding in Cars with Boys, opposite Drew Barrymore – as her son!

"the fantasy is not all that it’s cracked up to be"

Among his other milestone achievements is performing a tap routine from Bootmen at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. And now, in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, he gets to play an English rock star. “I play Stu, a rock star,” he says slipping into English rock star speech idiom, “the idol of these young girls, I’m their Bono or Mick Jagger … and Lindsay Lohan’s character, who is prone to exaggeration to say the least, has told her arch nemesis that she has tickets to see my last performance, as my band is breaking up. So then she has to try and get to see me and meet me, otherwise she’ll be seen as a liar. It’s all about the choice of being truthful … and the fantasy world that people … well, this drama queen, lives in. Of course the fantasy is not all that it’s cracked up to be and it gets her in trouble.”

That’s because Stu has a few typical rock star problems, like substance abuse (“not too much of course, it’s a Disney film”). He sounds like the perfect man, “but when she meets him, of course he turns out to be different. Flawed!”

For Garcia it was “huge fun”. It was the first time in a long time that he had a chance to play a hammy, excessive lout of a character. “I had a wig, these crazy clothes and gold and silver rings and jewellery all over my body. I weighed about another 50 kilos with all the jewellery on me, so I got to swagger around like a rock star – the director (Sara Sugarman), who is a friend of mine, just gave me the licence to the character so it’s incredibly hammy!”

Published April 1, 2004

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