A Quick Chat With Michael Whalley

One minute he’s starring in films with Angelina Jolie and Michael Fassbender, and the next he’s playing an intimate, exciting play at the tiny yet beloved Old Fitz theatre. Michael Whalley, we like you already. We asked him some questions about movies, theatre, and what he misses about his native New Zealand.

How would you describe your occupation to an alien?

I’m a controlled under-paid whore. (And I would try to use gestures.)

Michael Whalley
Michael Whalley

How would you describe it to a regular person?

I’m a controlled under-paid whore, and here’s a flyer to my show.

You’re from New Zealand – what do you miss the most about it?

The PerkyNanas, the Squiggletops (see Google translate), my family and the cheaper parking fines.

How would you spend the perfect day off from work?

With my excellent lady friend cooking slow-cooked meat. Because the meat takes care of itself in the slow cooker we can trot off to the water at Coogee for swims and drinks.

What has been your most rewarding experience as an actor?

One time I was flown into a 52,000 seat arena by helicopter and performed a James’ Bond routine to a full crowd. They were really there to watch rugby which followed, but Mum was impressed and sometimes that’s enough.

What has been your most rewarding experience as an audience member?

Getting to see Robert LePage’s Dragon Trilogy was pretty awesome. It hardly felt like half a day had past, such was its storytelling power.

Tell us about the Angelina Jolie-helmed film Unbroken, which you are a part of:

I got to play in a replica bomber plane, firing blank replica 50 cals in a ww2 outifit while Angelina watched only me.

And a little about Slow West, with Michael Fassbender and Ben Mendelsohn?

It was surreal to be working on a film with two of my absolute favourite actors. Aiming guns at them, riding horses with them and jumping off bridges with them in the downtimes.

What excites you about the Australian theatre community?

There’s always something I want to be a part of and get amongst, whether that’s as an audience member, auditioning or being a cast member. There’s a lot that calls out to me.

What frustrates you about the Australian theatre community?

I’m not allowing myself to be frustrated or complain about anything unless I’ve exhausted all avenues for obtaining auditions or theatre spaces for my own work or delivered flyers to everyone I see. There’s always more to do before blaming any other parties.

Whose advice do you always take?

The only person to solely rely on or trust is Myself. And even then…

 What are you reading?

The Goldfinch, a modern day Great Expectations for my money. And the Equity mag is the best toilet read any actor could ask for.

Sydney or Melbourne?

Sydney beaches, Melbourne coffee.

 You’re about to perform in C*ck – tell us a little about the play.

A world of turmoil surrounds John as he attempts to negotiate leaving his Boyfriend for the girl of his dreams. He is forced to decide ‘what he is’, and neither boy nor girl will let him get away easily. It’s a comedy.

What do you think is the most appealing thing about Mike Bartlett’s script?

The play has been written in such a specifically scored way that there is no choice but to speak as humans do. Broken, honest, scattered. This is as satisfying to perform as it is to listen to. And blimmin’ hard to learn!

You’ll be performing this at the Old Fitz, a beloved venue. How do you feel about the space? 

The space is going through a resurgence and I think will again become the heartbeat for many an indy show patron and creator. To quote Masterclass, currently kicking ass at the Old Fitz, it’ll be the “Smithy”.

How has the experience been working with Red Line Productions?

We’ve been very well looked after by RedLine. Being able to rehearse in the theatre has been a luxury and has truly felt like a company of collaborators.

Where and when can we see the play?

The Old Fitzroy Theatre from Feb 3-March 6th.

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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