Mcleod's Daughters: articles

New man arrives on McLeod's Daughters

The real-life farm set of McLeod's Daughters makes acting easy for the show's classically-trained new star, Matt Passmore.

"It's miraculous," he says after six months of shooting and on the eve of his character Marcus Turner's first appearance on TV screens.

"It comes with all the other things - flies, cold, hot, that sort of thing - but when the director says: `Look in awe out into the sunset', you're not looking into a blue screen or at a wall, you're looking at an amazing sunset. It does the work for you."

The South Australian outback is a long way from his experience shooting on another of the Nine Network's remote area dramas, The Alice.

"That was mostly shot on a toxic wasteland in Sydney," he says.

"We'd stand on this hill, supposed to imagine it was The Alice ... we'd be looking straight onto a massive construction yard," he says.

"On McLeod's it could be beautiful and green, then you come back two weeks later and the hills are all brown.

"It's just the most majestic countryside. It's the star of McLeod's.

"That's the romance of it, the glorification of the Aussie rural life."

Brisbane-bred Passmore moved to Adelaide in August last year to join the key cast of the outback Aussie drama.

Already an unwitting journeyman of Australian drama, having appeared on the now cancelled series The Cooks, Blue Heelers and Always Greener, Adelaide is the fourth Australian city in which Passmore has lived.

He left Brisbane, where he was based as a combat field engineer in the Australian Army for three years, for Sydney to study at National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA). He graduated in 2001.

He then moved to Melbourne to star in the short-lived Seven drama Last Man Standing.

Now halfway through shooting series six of McLeod's, Passmore says to have appeared on so many shows is a blessing in disguise.

But he admits he is grateful to have work as he shares a historical perspective on the tough existence of an Australian actor.

"The artist always has to be funded," he says.

"Even in the 1700s and 1800s, every painter has a sponsor or someone paying the bills. There's always someone who's going to make money off art."

He laments the number of Australians who are forced overseas to find work.

A case in point being his girlfriend Rachel Carpani, who left McLeod's in 2006 after five years and landed a role in the US drama Law Dogs with Janeane Garofalo.

While Passmore and Carpani's shooting schedule overlapped, they never appeared together in a scene.

"The relationship formed completely separate from the show, which is one of the reason's I trust it," he says.

Passmore says most actors he talks to want to stay in Australia.

"We all want to tell Aussie stories," he says.

"But if you're a plumber and there's no plumbing work in this town, you've got go to the next town.

"There are these extraordinary actors who are unemployed and you go: `Holy crap, what's wrong with the system?'"

For now, he is happy to be telling a quintessential Australian story in a role he says often gives him a "licence to act like a boy".

"I'm working with animals, hooning around on dirt bikes, jumping on horses, pulling out a chainsaw, it's a far cry from meeting someone at a cafe," he says.

While comfortable getting his hands dirty on the fictional farm Drovers Run, he reckons a group of Central Queensland cotton farmers will soon snigger into their beers when Passmore's character joins McLeod's in the second episode of this season.

"[Marcus] is a bit of a city boy who's come to the country," he says.

"I have a whole range of cousins on my father's side with cotton farms, so I've done many trips out there but to them I've always been the city slicker boy.

"So they're going to sit back and have a bit of a chuckle to themselves, I think."

February 10, 2007