Water Rats: profiles

Aaron Pedersen as Michael Reilly

Aaron Pedersen

Standing up for the underdog is something Aaron Pedersen has in common with his character Reilly. "I have a real soft spot for disadvantaged people, whether it's a single mother or a struggling family," he says. Aaron identifies closely with his character: "We both keep our heads firmly screwed on and try to keep work in perspective." They also share a keen sense of humour and an ability to look on the funny side of life.

The opportunity to play what he describes as "a real role for an Aboriginal performer" has not been lost on Aaron. Creating roles for Aboriginal people "which have a heart and a soul" rather than being superficial or cliched is a big step forward for indigenous performers, he says. He is proud of his background, and believes his role in Water Rats is a pioneering move for indigenous people. Not forgetting, says Aaron, "It also is a great chance for a young bloke from the desert to work with great actors."

Aaron grew up in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. At 20 he started as a television reporter for the ABC, working in Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. His first acting role came about in 1995 "as a bit of a joke" when he offered himself for a role in Heartlands starring the Oscar-nominated (Elizabeth) Cate Blanchett and Ernie Dingo.

After that, the roles kept coming Dead Heart a feature film directed by Nicholas Parsons, Territorians, a tele-movie, 50 episodes of the award-winning television series Wildside, where Aaron played a young lawyer, and most recently, Saturday Night, a two-hander feature film directed by James Balian. Aaron joined Water Rats in January 1999.