Water Rats: profiles

Aaron Jeffery as Terry Watson

Aaron Jeffery

There's little doubt that Terry Watson's the strong silent type. To some, that means he's a first-class police officer disciplined, street-wise and used to holding his feelings in check as he dives into black water with nil visibility and identifies bodies, weapons, cars and evidence by touch alone. To others, he's stand-offish, a real working class boy with a seething resentment towards anyone who's had it easy. Which explains why he gives Fiona such a hard time at first.

For he's always had to do it tough. A"westie" who spent his youth travelling the two hours by train to the ocean to surf, and fighting for his spot on the beach against those who lived nearby, he's always loved the water. After five years on the beat in one of the most difficult areas of Sydney, he transferred to full-time diving. Now he's also a member of the State Protection Group (anti-terrorism), with all the extra weapons and roping skills that position entails.

The first thing Aaron Jeffery did when he heard he'd been given the role of Terry was to sign up for a dive course off Jervis Bay. Then he went diving with the police in Sydney Harbour. "We went down about ten metres in completely black water, no visibility," says Aaron, who'd only done a couple of resort dives before. "it was exciting, but weird. feeling things and not knowing what you were feeling. But it was like meditation once you relaxed and just concentrated on the breathing."

The excitement of being part of that kind of action was what really attracted Aaron to WATER RATS. He knows of no other Australian series which has tried to capture the kind of mystery, tension and thrills that professional diving involves. "Within the police service, the divers are an elite core," he says. They are pretty private.

They are hard guys. They look for dead bodies. That's their job. There's also a lot of irony in the way they look at the world and the things they say."

The character of Terry is not so far from his own, either. "Watson's a bit of a superfish. He's a young gun, good at what he does and knows it. He is moody and tends to have a heavy presence about him. I used to be moody but am not so much any more. Getting older I've learned to relax a bit." That balance between intensity and reserve is what convinced WATER RATS' producers that Aaron would be perfect for the role. "He went like a heat-seeking missile to get the right mix," they say.

Aaron is a New Zealander who came to Australia to live when he was 19. Two years later, he was accepted into NIDA, graduating in 1993. "I actually started acting as therapy," he says. "I couldn't afford a psychologist. My biggest fear was standing up in front of people and 1 wanted to conquer that.

Aaron's television credits include BLUE MURDER, THE DAMNATION OF HARVEY McHUGH and SHIP TO SHORE. In film, he has appeared in CONVICTIONS, SQUARE ONE and GOOD FRUIT. In 1995 he also formed his own theatre company, Threshold Productions, with its first production being BOUNCERS. He has also appeared on stage in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and THE CRUCIBLE.