I was a little surprised when actor Ryan Corr agreed without hesitation to spend over 3 hours fully clothed in a luke warm, oily bath reciting the words of a Nick Cave song that was probably drafted in Cave’s mind long before Corr was even born. After all, there was no cash being thrown at him, no mass audience to impress, no free wardrobe, not even a lunch budget. He also knew that this was my first attempt at producing a film clip. When I asked him why he’d agreed to my request he simply said, “I really liked the concept.”
He is clearly in this game for the right reasons and one thing’s for sure, I will never tire of saying “Ryan Corr was my first.”
And so here he is in The National Treasures Series – Clip’D #1. A series of short film clips featuring Australia’s finest actors and songwriters.
Ryan Corr’s acting career began at the tender age of 13 starring in children’s TV shows The Sleepover Club, Silver Sun and the film Opraholic.
“I actually left home at that time to go and live with a bunch of fellow child actors, you could say that I learned a lot from that living experience, it was very interesting…it was a lot of fun,” he says with a cheeky grin.
Corr’s early years were spent in Melbourne, his father working as a teacher and sports coach for young people living with disability and his mother as an occupational therapist.
He is proud of his parents and their chosen careers and even prouder of his younger sister who has just majored in Psychology at Sydney University and he beams as he tells me. “She is amazing, she’s winning.” His parents separated when he was 12, “It wasn’t a great time in my life. I don’t think experiencing a family breakdown is ever easy for anyone, at any age but I took it pretty hard. I was angry at the world anyway…teachers either loved me or hated me at school, mostly, I was bad news.”
“When I was 11 I auditioned for a school musical and it just kind of worked out, acting seemed to suit me and I think that was a relief for everyone around me” he laughs.
At 16 he lost 5 friends in a one car horror smash. “It was a dark time, I still think of it often, it’s the kind of thing that haunts you if you let it and it’s also the kind of thing that changes you forever. That experience made me realise how vulnerable we all are and how life can change in an instant. Depression..anxiety, mental illness to varying degrees can affect us all, no one is immune. This is a subject that I could talk about for hours and a cause that I’m always willing to support.”
He’s yet to turn 30 but it’s clear that the challenges and trauma of his adolescence have moulded him into a wise and insightful soul far beyond his years. And, as an actor, it has undoubtedly honed his skills and given him the ability to flit effortlessly between challenging and diverse roles both on screen and in the theatre. He’s clearly turned his vulnerabilities into strengths and it’s working out pretty well for him.
For many grown-ups, Ryan Corr’s acting debut came in 2010, when, fresh out of NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) he landed the role of the trigger-happy, loose cannon of a drug dealer Michael Kanaan in Nine Network’s Under Belly – The Golden Mile.
The Underbelly series, based loosely on truth and wholly on the glorification of a violent underworld was as instrumental in launching the careers of some of Australia’s greatest young actors as it was responsible for rebooting the waning careers of others.
As a Londoner, born in an ‘ungentrified’ part of town, I was somewhat knowledgeable of the dubious goings on of inner city life and the colourful characters that it attracts and so, an education in the murky past of my adoptive Sydney’s history executed with shameless rose tinted-ness was pretty irresistible. As was the actor Firass Dirani I seem to remember, playing the part of notorious Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim…half naked in an empty Kings Cross bar with an emotionally torn and dutiful copper called Wendy. Crikey. I’m sure that I wasn’t the only bird that needed a stiff gin and a cold shower after viewing that little nugget of tv gold. Needless to say a few years later, a real-life lawsuit ensued in Sydney and was rightly won by a Kings Cross policewoman named Wendy who obviously wasn’t as keen on those love scenes as I was.
Corr’s part in UnderBelly was small, too small but he was convincing as well as intriguing and it some ways it paved the way, leading to him playing the roles of other slippery, reckless and unnurtured young men, one in particular, being Coby Jennings in Packed to the Rafters. This sugary sweet, syrupy goo of a program with it’s humble, hard-working family bursting with emotional openness was hardly my cup of tea. Previously that week I’d even been flicking channels every time a trailer for it came on the TV muttering the words ‘Christ.’ Until, one night, thick with flu and not having the energy to reach for the remote, he suddenly appeared on the screen, entering this wholesome, cheesy grinning TV household and I have to admit he was nothing short of brilliant with his mullet and with his shadiness and incredibly I watched the whole episode.
He’s graced the screen of many a commercial tv staple – Blue Heelers, Neighbours, Blue Water High, Love Child and most recently Wanted and has continually shown his versatility, effortlessly flitting from that arena to theatre (Sex with Strangers, Arcadia), Films – Wolf Creek 2, Holding the Man, The Water Diviner, Hacksaw Ridge, BBC Drama Banished, and my particular favourites Tangle and The Moodys.
Corr is currently playing sidekick Blair Finch in the indigenous superhero ABC Drama Cleverman. He has a keen interest in Aboriginal culture and he enthusiastically describes the complex plot, the risk taking in bringing this concept to fruition and the ‘brilliant directing and bravery’ of Wayne Blair and Leah Purcell.
Next up he’ll be starring in the film Eaglehawk at the Sydney Film Festival (Premieres June 18th in Sydney) Directed by Shannon Murphy and produced by Jessica Carrera from Dollhouse Pictures.
He champions fellow actors, delights in filling me in on the multi-talents of Sophie Lowe and he talks of his professional admiration for actor Dan Wylie “He is a real actor, he has a good heart and a small ego too and I’m lucky to call him a friend.”
He looks forward to future roles and when I ask him who he’d love to play, without hesitation he says “Macbeth. The challenge, the intensity of a role like that appeals to me greatly.”
There is a lot to like about Ryan Corr, on screen and off and the best thing about Ryan Corr is that the best of Ryan Corr is yet to come.
Toby Burrows – Director and Stills Photographer (Clip’D)
Chris Baron – Editor and Sound (Clip’D)
Mark Stott @ Common Design
Ricky Birmingham @ Mushroom Records
Glen Pokorny – Director of Photography (Clip’D)
Gaffer – Isaac MacLurcan (Clip’D)
Milla Jeffryes – Production Assistant (Clip’D)
Ksubi and General Pants, Sydney
Andrew McDonald ShoeMaker
Jason Burrows @ Jungle
Peta Maloney @ Maxwell and Associates Sydney http://www.maxpat.com/
Catherine Poulton Management