MOST actors love being in their late 20s. They are still able to win
youthful roles, but adult parts are also accessible. Unless, of course, you
happen to have a "young" face, like the actor Kelly Dingwall.
The Seaforth resident is nearly 28, but ruefully admits he is still
fighting the teenage syndrome.
"I started acting when I was 11 or 12, which is good experience and
everything, but all the casting people in Australia know me as this little young
teenager," he says.
"That sort of attitude is really hard to break. I'd like to say, 'Look at
me now, I'm 27', but they can't see it because I only look about 22 on screen
"People do typecast you in a certain way, so you've got to change their
ideas of who you are. I used to be about 80 kilograms - a bit paunchy - and I
was up for a role in some TV thing which I turned down because I didn't like it.
Then I heard they'd said they wanted someone dumpy 'just like Kelly' ... after
that I lost about 12 kilos."
Dingwall's face is well known to Australian audiences - particularly
teens- from television stints on shows such as Home and Away and E Street.
He also has a string of movies to his credit, mainly playing on his
youthful appearance, so to prove his versatility and ability to take on"adult"
parts, Dingwall accepted a pivotal role in the recently released Australian
film, The Custodian.
He plays Tony Reynolds, a journalist who pursues anonymous information
about police corruption, and finds the rot goes all the way to the top.
His anonymous source is a policeman named Quinlan who, after assessing his
life and career in the wake of his marriage break-up, realises that he can no
longer tolerate the corrupt activities of his long-time partner and those around
him, and blows the whistle.
The twist lies in the fact that Quinlan (played by Anthony LaPaglia
)sacrifices himself in the process, and ends up going to jail.
Dingwall's character is fairly naive to start with - or, as Dingwall puts
it, "an immature person who goes through all this s... and comes out the other
side as a man".
Reynolds has no way of identifying Quinlan or testing his bona fides, and
doubts he is telling the truth. It is only when he starts to check Quinlan's
information that he realises its importance, and puts his own life in danger in
getting the story out to the public.
Dingwall researched the role by going out on the road with reporters from
the ABC, and says Reynolds is the only character in the film with a sense of
The rest of the film is quite bleak, as it considers how mateship can be
used for all the wrong reasons, and how innocent people can be twisted or
steamrolled by the corrupt.
"The idea of protecting your mates is used quite a lot in the film," says
Dingwall, "and it's something that can be quite distorted. They would never dob
in another policeman - it's just not done.
"But really, it's saying there can be corruption in any large company in
society; and should people be turning a blind eye to that?"
The Custodian is the first project on which Dingwall has worked with his
father. John Dingwall was the film's director, and at the outset father and son
were unsure if they could work together.
"We were both a little worried about it," Dingwall says, "but we've always
had a tendency to laugh in pretty serious situations, and this was a film so
you can't get more serious than that ... but you also have to relax.
"I worked on it for a couple of months in the casting stage before filming
began, so we both got comfortable with it. When we started working it was just
a matter of he was the director and I was the actor. You just get on with it.
But it's not every day that you get to work with your parents in your job, so
that was great."
Quinlan's method of selfsacrifice is something which most policemen, real
or invented, would not contemplate. However, Dingwall says that Quinlan's
character plans to continue his investigations behind bars, which does create
the possibility of a sequel to vindicate him.
But where would young Rey nolds be by then, after his ground-breaking
"You never know ... I could be John Pilger or something."
The Custodian is screening at Hoyts cinemas.