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The Sydney Morning Herald

Garry McDonald

Date: 23/10/2010
Words: 605
Source: SMH
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Spectrum
Page: 24
Creator of Norman Gunston, beleaguered offspring in Mother & Son, beyondblue board member.

In The Grenade, you play a character who has exploded into a "paranoid frenzy of security insecurity". What is your biggest fear?

That people will recognise that I don't know much at all and I'm not very smart. And they're right.

He has a grenade in his living room. What do you keep in yours?

I've been on tour so much in the last three years, I'm hardly ever at home. There's absolutely nothing unusual in it.

What research did you carry out to play this character?

None. I didn't need to do any research on paranoia. I've lived for 61 years. That's my research.

It's a play about a conniving lobbyist. Will Sydney get that?

I think they might.

What does it mean to be an actor?

It changes. When you're young, it's all about showing off. When you get older, it's about wanting to enrich people's lives.

Backstage rituals?

I'm a bit wary of that kind of thing. I find them almost like something I would expect to read about in a book on

anxiety disorders.

Highlight of touring regional NSW for Halpern & Johnson with Henri Szeps?

The way I feel about food, probably dinner that first night in Orange at Union Bank.

Does anyone call you Norman?

Someone did the other day at a 50th birthday. I just chatted to them like they'd called me Garry.


I don't get Arthur so much but I do get Norman.

Where is Norman's tuxedo jacket?

The original is at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra.

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

I laugh out loud very easily. Even at the board meeting for the national depression initiative beyondblue. There's nothing funnier than talking about depression and anxiety, I find.

Finish this sentence: "Young people today ... "

Young actors today are far better educated than we were, which I think is fantastic. They're much smarter, more literate. They've got a much broader education.

Skill you wish you had?

For my wife's sake, I wish I enjoyed dancing.

Strongest memory of NIDA?

The parties. And a speech teacher we used to call the Irish gnome. He was always trying to get people to have a "breakthrough". In other words, getting them so confused they'd burst into tears.

Differences between audiences in Sydney and Melbourne?

I don't think there are any more. If you said Canberra audiences, then yes. They're quieter.

Role you would love to play?

At the moment, I'm kind of looking forward to playing an out-of-work actor. I'd like some time at home.

What's on your car stereo when commuting?

On long drives, something like Eckhart Tolle, a modern spiritual teacher, or sometimes I'll put on chants from the yoga I do. Coming back from work at night, I'd rather be listening to Radio National or Phillip Adams.

TV made you famous, what is must-see TV for you now?

Breaking Bad. Mad Men is extraordinary. And we're also taping Offspring.

Last book you read?

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.

What does being on the board of beyondblue mean to you?

When I joined, it was so much simpler. There was nothing. So Jeff [Kennett] and Ian Hickey were just trying to get some research up. Now it's unbelievable. The area that's been covered in 10 years has been amazing. I'm thrilled that I've been a part of it.

Melbourne Theatre Company's production of The Grenade, presented by Sydney Theatre Company, is at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, from November 4 to December 12.

Garry McDonald spoke to Elicia Murray

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