Actor Mansoor Noor relishes diverse roles that aren’t based on ethnicity

Mansoor Noor in ‘The Furnace.’

When Mansoor Noor decided to study at the Actors Centre Australia in 2014 after playing the lead in the ABC sci-fi series Shifters and a supporting role in the ABC docudrama Singapore 1942: End of Empire, it was a big gamble.

“It was a huge investment and risk for me, given there were hardly any people that looked like me on the screen and stages, unless it was a stereotype,” Noor tells IF.

“I’m so glad I did because of the changes we are starting to see now, although in the the majority of my on-set experiences, I have yet to see the same shift to diversity we are seeing on screen.”

Noor’s career is flourishing, reflecting his versatility. He played a bad cop in Cleverman, a doctor in Rake, a journalist in The Secrets She Keeps, an impressionable young scientist in Eddie Arya’s thriller Risen, a terrorist in Stephen Sewell’s feature drama Embedded and the owner of an intergalactic detective agency in the ABC’s sci-fi comedy Trip For Biscuits.

In Roderick MacKay’s The Furnace, which had its world premiere in Venice, he plays Adeeb, a camaleer. “On first read he may seem like a bit of a villain but it was great working closely with Roderick to make sure that there were layers to his character and that we found the humanity in him,” he says.

Director Tori Garrett cast him as Phil, owner of a Christmas tree lot, president of the local ukulele club and occasional Uber driver in The Dog Days of Christmas.

Georgia Flood and Ezekiel Simat star in the romantic comedy which was shot using COVIDSafe guidelines on the Gold Coast, produced by the Steve Jaggi Company.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to play such varied roles over the last few years, especially considering that when you graduate from drama school you really just want the opportunity to work, so to have been able to play such different characters has been very fulfilling,” he says.

“Whilst I still get cast specifically due to my ethnicity, I’ve also been very fortunate to get a number of roles where my ethnicity was incidental. However I’m also aware that not all People of Colour have been as lucky as me.”

(L-R) Mansoor Noor, Marcus Graham and Andrew McFarlane in ‘Cleverman.’

Born in Brisbane, Noor completed a Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production at Griffith Film School before deciding to pursue his passion for performance in front of the camera and on the stage.

Currently he is developing with Filipino Australian writer Jordan Shae Son Nation, a digital series about a Middle Eastern Muslim boy who discovers his mother is Australia’s most famous, red-headed, right wing politician.

He says: “I’ve been working with Jordan after bonding over our mutual experiences as Australians who had been ‘othered’ by this particular politician over the decades. First with her comments about the ‘Asian invasion’ and now with ‘Islam being a disease Australia needs to ‘vaccinate.’ Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be getting any less relevant.”

Supported by Screen Australia, he and writer-director Steve Anthopoulos and producer Yingna Lu are developing Golden Boy, a TV comedy about Hassan, a charming young Imam who shoots to national headlines when he saves Christmas carol singing teenagers from a burning bus. However he soon learns the only thing Australia loves more than celebrating a hero is tearing one down.

Noor, Anthopoulos, Sami Shah, Vidya Rajan and Luke Davidson have written the scripts.

Earlier this year the actor signed with US manager Echo Lake Entertainment and was hoping to spend a bit more time in LA, which he has had to put on hold.

“On the flip side, there looks to be a lot of international projects coming our way in Australia so I’m very much looking forward to that,” he adds.