All Saints: articles

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

New saint scrubs up

IT'S not often an Australian television drama lasts nine years and it's even rarer that such a series can find itself in peak condition after so long. Right now All Saints is one such program.

The hospital drama has been reinvented over the past two years with fast-paced storylines set around the emergency department and a large, flexible ensemble filled with believable, flawed characters.

The cast members are regularly rotated through while seasoned hands such as John Howard, John Waters and Judith McGrath are the glue holding it together.

Jack Campbell is the latest actor to be appointed full-time to the series after appearing in six episodes earlier in the year. He's lived overseas for much of the past decade and didn't know much about the series before joining.

"I'm sure I would have gotten into All Saints if I'd been here, but I didn't have that opportunity," he says. "I get the feeling the show today is superior to what it was years ago and that's exciting as well. I feel very fortunate my opportunity has come at a time the show is kicking goals and getting a lot of support from its viewers.

"And it's great to have bitey scenes with an actor like John Howard - it makes such a difference to have a diverse cast because you can find yourself in a show where you don't have the players to play with and when that happens it's a different story.

"There's such a positive energy here and it's a classy cast with a supportive energy on set. Everyone represents their characters well and it's a diverse range of characters. There's also a lot of human traits on display and the interactions are really interesting as a result. So I'm very excited and satisfied as an actor to be part of this team."

Campbell didn't set out to be an actor. His father was killed in a car crash when he was 20 and he and his two brothers left the family farm. He fell into acting through friends when he was cast in the film The Nostradamus Kid. His next role was in the celebrated play Six Degrees Of Separation at the Opera House.

"Then I was cast in Australia for a show in New Zealand called City Life for South Pacific Pictures who made Whale Rider and a lot of other shows, and was cast in several other shows for them after that," he says.

He stayed for five years, then returned briefly to Sydney before leaving for New York. "So over the last 10 years that All Saints has been running, I've been out of Australia," he says.

Now Campbell plays Dr Steve Taylor, a man who has also always been on the move. He's an excellent doctor but as viewers saw earlier this year, he is one with a big secret that is also a potentially fatal flaw: he's an alcoholic and it was beginning to affect his work. So he fled.

Now he's back, sober and ready to prove himself to colleagues again.

"It's a great role," Campbell says. "We share certain things in common which makes it easier to try on. We're both from the country and we share a country rhythm - he's from Mudgee and I'm from the Warrumbungle mountains which are 700km north-west of Sydney."

While he doesn't share the fatal flaw, Campbell says the former storyline gave him plenty to work with.

"That really established the vulnerable side of Steve and it was exhausting but satisfying," he says.

"It was exhausting to generate that withdrawal and the muscle-wrenching stage of withdrawal, and to get into that place was physically very hard.

"But it was enjoyable because actors like to bite their teeth into a part and it was a good way to join the cast - it was very real and wasn't like saying the lines."

By Marcus Casey
October 31, 2007
The Daily Telegraph