All Saints: profiles
Working on location at Concord Hospital each week has given Martin plenty of opportunities to watch the interactions between doctors, nurses and patients.
"It has really opened my eyes to how undervalued nurses can be," he says. "When you are sick you are so vulnerable and nurses are the ones who are with you constantly."
While Martin admires the nursing profession, he has also come to appreciate the stresses on the medical interns and registrars, and is in awe of the surgeons.
"I would love to be surgeon... it really is like being 'the hand of god.' A century ago it was common for people to die during an appendectomy, but now the procedures are amazing... brain surgery, heart surgery, transpants."
This is Martin's first regular series role and he had no hesitation in making the long-term commitment to the show.
"He is a good character, coming from a very working-class family while many surgeons have more privileged backgrounds," he says. "He is ambitious but he is more genuinely interested in getting along with the nurses, orderlies, lab workers than many of the other surgeons."
But Martin does not want to paint Luke as being too nice, stressing that he does have 'a darker side and a short fuse'.
Martin has enjoyed the chance to focus on developing the one character.
"Being on a series means you have the chance to chill out and work, not be constantly thinking about auditioning," he says. "I think it is great to be able to just come to work and act — which is what I have actually trained to do."
It did take Martin a few years to realise that acting was what he wanted to do. Growing up in Perth, he was far more interested in sport and surfing.
"I did choose drama classes at school one year because I thought it would be a class where I would not have to write anything," he says. "I got kicked out."
Martin left school at 15 and spent a few years travelling around around Australia with a friend — mostly up and down the east coast surfing.
When he eventually went back to Perth, an advertisement for a comedy workshop caught his attention. Six weeks later the graduation ceremony was filmed by an ABC crew and the next gig Martin did was as a professional comedian.
Stand-up comedy sparked his interested in acting and through some smart-talking he managed to get an audition at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) despite missing the deadline for applications.
He was accepted and finally found something he wanted to put all his energy into. "NIDA was a great experience for me because I had no acting background and no discipline at all. Until then I had never let anyone tell me what to do because I had never been that interested in learning."
He graduated in 1994. His first role was in the Marian Street Theatre's production of The Club, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and not just because he was able to research by training with the Sydney Swans Australian Rules Football Club.
Since then Martin has appeared in the 1996 Sydney Festival production of Lady Chatterley's Lover and This is the Sea at the Stables Theatre last year.
His television credits include Love Me Tender, Police Rescue, Pacific Drive, Big Sky and the telemovie The Devil Game (with Jacqueline McKenzie and Guy Pearce).
Martin lives in Sydney's eastern suburbs. He likes tennis, swimming, surfing, the Sydney Swans, and still has some loyalties to the West Coast Eagles.
He is also producing, directing, writing and acting in some short film projects.
…as Luke Forlano
Luke is the golden-haired boy of his poor but proud parents — his mother, an Irish Catholic, and his father, an Italian. He was brought up in a loving family atmosphere of barbecues, singing and dancing. His parents worked very hard in their shop to get him a good education. And Luke supplemented their contribution with part-time work. Now that he is more financially secure he finds ways of paying them back. But things could have been very different.
Being a boy in a rough neighbourhood, Luke got in with the wrong crowd. He skipped school and dabbled in petty crimes. Fortuitously, he came under the influence of a young Christian Brother who became his role model and mentor. As well as encouraging him to stay at school and feed his enquiring mind, this man introduced Luke to literature, art and opera.
Luke's young brother Tony did not have a saviour and is at present doing his second stint in prison. Luke feels guilty — he should have helped his brother as he was helped. He visits when he can, but his brother is bitter about the difference between their lives and the obvious pride their parents take in Luke.
Although exams weigh heavily on his shoulders, Luke is probably at the most enjoyable level of his medical career. Interns are too frightened about their incompetence, consultants have lost all sense of feeling, but registrars are confident and competent and they take time to understand their patients and the staff.
He is very popular, with a great smile and easy sense of humour. Some of his not so commendable teenage skills come in handy when friends lock themselves out of their cars late at night or the ward runs out of supplies and midnight raids on other departments become necessary.
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