Interview: Arrow‘s Matt Nable talks moving from sport into the arts, Supanova & more!

The Supanova Pop Culture Expo comes to Adelaide and Brisbane for another year over the next few weekends, providing fans an opportunity to connect with the ‘Supa-Star’ guests who’ve come from all different backgrounds, be it current blockbuster film or TV franchises, cult TV hits, independent film and more. Ahead of the Adelaide expo (November 21st-22nd), we’ve been catching up with a range of guests set to either visit for the first time, or return after a while away.

Sydney native Matt Nable has been working in the States most recently, entering the DC Comics universe as Ra’s al Ghul in Arrow last year. A 10 episode stint in the show’s third season brought considerable praise for Nable from both fans and critics, and has also introduced him to the huge arena of pop culture and comic expos around the world.

“I did one in Miami,” he describes of his recent appearances. “I’ve done one in Texas, one in Atlanta and one in England in Birmingham. They’re very overwhelming, I’ve got to be honest! I was really interested in going and seeing what it was all about. The one in Atlanta, I think there was 100,000 people and there was the same amount of people in Miami. You get a real appreciation for how fanatical and invested the fans are in these shows. It was a very humbling experience, that someone has saved their money to get an autograph or a photo…it’s a little strange to me, but when you get a chance to interact with them and talk with them, they’re just really invested in the shows. We’ve all been like that with television shows, too. I really enjoy it. I mean, it’s not something I could do every weekend, but I’m really looking forward to the ones in Adelaide and Brisbane, definitely.”

[John] Barrowman‘s a great guy,” Nable says of his Arrow co-star and frequent expo favourite. “He’s a real showman and he’s very suited to the whole pop culture expo environment. He really does put on a show, he’s very gracious and he’s just a good guy. I really like Johnny, I had fun working with him on Arrow and I’ve been to a couple of conferences with him and he’s just wonderful. The way he treats a crowd…there’s a lot to be learned from the way John interacts with his fans. I think it’s wonderful.”

Nable will have been familiar to some fans prior to his villainous turn in Arrow, portraying Boss Johns in Riddick back in 2013, but for Australian TV fans, his is a face you’re likely to have seen appear on a variety of well received shows in the past. Having appeared in the Underbelly franchise, Gallipoli and Bikie Wars amongst others, Nable’s been consistently working on his career in Australia as he has with his international profile. Presently, he’s working on a project in Perth before heading over to Melbourne to begin work on another different production.

“I’m on a job at the moment in Perth with Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving and some younger actors who are very, very clever. I [then] go on to Melbourne to film another adaption of a Christos Tsiolkas novel called Barracuda. That’s a very interesting job. After that, I go to New Orleans to do a job there, it’s very busy! There are times too where you can have a couple of months where there is not a great deal of work around for me; you can’t just do everything, you’ve got to suit a certain part. You’ve just got to make hay while the sun shines. I feel very lucky to be in a really nice position to be able to be across acting and writing, I’m very lucky to be able to do that. You find yourself in these positions and although you take it on consciously, it’s nice to take a moment and look at the big picture and say, ‘Okay – I am very lucky and in a good position’.”

It comes from a very real place with Nable too, just talking with the actor, you can hear the determination in his voice. Growing up in Sydney wanting to be a writer, Nable found himself rolling in the sporting arena as opposed to the arts early on. Developing a career in Rugby League (first playing for the South Sydney Rabbitohs before playing league in the UK) and then venturing into boxing through his 20’s, Nable eventually found himself mixing his two loves when he wrote a screenplay for The Final Winter, based on a novel he’d written of the same name. The Australian drama revolved around the captain of the Newtown Jets in the early 1980’s and eventually, the film was bought by Paramount and made into a feature film in 2007.

Nable comments on his move from sportsman into writer and then, as a result, actor, as indeed being an unconventional career move, but one that’s given him a decent advantage all the same when it comes to maintaining a solid work ethic today.

“The thing with me and sport is that when I played,” he says. “It was at a time when it wasn’t professional. I was playing rugby in the very early 90’s and I still had a job, I was working five or six days a week and then playing football on the weekends. The money I earned was negligible…I missed out on the ‘professional’ era of sport, especially with rugby league. I just grew up a very physical kid and that’s just what we did. As far as transitioning out, it took me a long time; I was finishing rugby league at around 25 and then boxing at about 30. What I’d always wanted to do when I was younger, when you’re talking about a vocation and having a career, was to be a writer or a journalist. I wanted an avenue to write. That was always what I wanted to do.”

“The initial introduction to the arts for me was writing and acting sort of followed afterwards,” he admits. “Writing was always there, acting was never on the radar at all. I think it was something that happened quite haphazardly and I found myself in it quite quickly. The way it unfolded for me was that I’d written something that had become a film so very quickly, I was in a situation where I was getting seen for acting roles. It took a long time to be comfortable in saying that I was an actor, to be honest. It definitely took quite a few years to feel comfortable in that realm. It was certainly a different type of evolution into the arts, but it’s worked for me. I think that having a life beforehand has been a great help for me. It gives you some perspective, having worked outside the industry before. It’s an overwhelming type of experience, being and actor and being on a big show, where there is an enormous amount of adulation – that’s not how most people live. For me, having lived a very different and normal life, it does offer perspective on what’s important, that’s for sure.”

The Supanova Pop Culture Expo visits Adelaide and Brisbane in November. Tickets are available through You can see Matt and the other guests at the following venues:

November 20th – 22nd: Royal Adelaide Showgrounds
November 27th – 29th: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre


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