Perth Supanova: Six Things We Learned from the David Wenham Panel

David Wenham is one of Australia’s finest actors and has made a huge impression overseas with his heroic parts in popular fantasy flicks, Lord of the Rings, 300, and most recently as an antagonist in both Pirates of the Caribbean and Iron Fist. 

But don’t be fooled by his traditional leading man looks: This guy has got range (he is unrecognisable and hilarious as mumbly dropkick ex-con John Spitieri in Gettin’ Square, and the very model of fatherly decency in the recent Academy Award nominated Lion). Not only that, but Wenham’s harbouring a few creative ambitions beyond being an actor, as we learned during his 50 minute Q&A.

Here are 6 things we learned from the man himself.

1. Iron Fist Sounded Like a Difficult Time

David Wenham’s agent called him with an offer: Would you like to be the antagonist of a Marvel project? That was it. No info about the character beyond that, no name, no nothin’. Yes or no. Naturally, not one to turn down a great career opportunity, Wenham said yes and was off to New York City in the blink of an eye. Of course he would end up portraying Harold Meachum, an immortal and treacherous businessman — the primary foe of Danny Rand, the Iron Fist. Wenham said that actors were getting scripts drip-fed to them at the last minute as shooting went on, something which Wenham diplomatically called “creatively restricting.” Nonetheless, he found some enjoyment in acting opposite Tom Pelphrey, who played his troubled son Ward Meachum.

2. David Wenham Had Some Understandable Doubts About 300

Following his turn as Faramir in Lord of the Rings, Wenham heeded the call to play a similar sort of role in Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s acclaimed graphic novel 300. Curious to know more, Wenham checked out the comic book. Page one: His character is stark naked. The following day, Snyder called Wenham to inform him that they’d be shooting the whole film in Montreal during the winter. Putting his foot down, Wenham expressed serious doubts about this: “Look, I don’t know about this Zack.” But Snyder laughed it off and said “No, no we’re shooting indoors. 100 percent blue and green screen.”

3.   Horse-riding in Lord of the Rings

It can be said with reasonable certainty that the most horse-riding David Wenham has done for a movie is for the Lord of the Rings films. But even then, it might not be as much horse-riding as it looks like. “During the close-up shots of of us on the horses, we’d just be sitting on a moving barrel, a very low-tech thing really, in a blue room.”

4. Getting Your Own Film Off the Ground Sounds Terrifying 

Wenham had been prepping for his first directorial feature, Ellipsis, for some time. Everything was in order until right at the last minute, where the financing fell through and the whole enterprise had to be re-jiggered to accommodate that drastic, out of nowhere change. “We only had ten days. A couple of days to completely re-do the script, to find the character, and the remaining few days to shoot the whole thing in chronological order.” Proving that he’s made of sturdy stuff, Wenham added lightly, “Well, I always wanted to experiment, and it sure was experimental.”

5. Wenham Encountered Real Difficulty During a Recent Audition 

Although Wenham wouldn’t tell us the name of the film and director he recently auditioned for, he assured us that it was a “very well known director”. He had to read the script opposite the casting director instead of the actor. When he was speaking his lines, the casting director was mouthing what he was saying, which proved to be off-putting for his process. “I need to stop you right there,” he said, “You’re mouthing my lines.” “What? No I’m not,” she shot back. Not one to waste his time, Wenham immediately left the audition.

6. Wenham Wants to Do More Comedy

Although mostly known for his serious roles, Wenham wants to branch out and do funnier stuff. Note: if his 50 minute Q&A is anything to go by, I hope he gets that opportunity: he’s got a quick wit and the deadpan thing down pat. And if he never gets the call for a comedy role, Wenham will ante up again and create his own comedic project.

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