After Alex Williams graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2012, the actor expected to spend two or three years trying to build his career gradually through stage roles.
How wrong he was. In his first professional audition he won the role of Julian Assange in Robert Connolly’s Network Ten telemovie Underground: The Julian Assange Story opposite Rachael Griffiths and Anthony LaPaglia.
The Perth-born Williams, who now lives in Sydney, has since been back to his hometown twice, to star in John V. Soto’s The Reckoning, which opens on September 4, and in Connolly’s 3D children’s movie Paper Planes, which Roadshow will launch in January.
In between he played Kirk Pengilly in INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, Shine Australia’s miniseries for the Seven Network. Williams has just finished another TV production, which he’s not allowed to reveal.
Since graduating he hasn’t had the chance to act in a play but that’s one of his goals as he builds his resume in hopes of cracking the US.
In The Reckoning, he and Hanna Mangan Lawrence play runaway teenagers who video the murder of a cop while making documentary about the drug-related dearth of a sibling. Jonathan LaPaglia, Luke Hemsworth and Viva Bianca play detectives involved in the case.
In Paper Planes, he plays a high school student who mentors 11-year-old Dylan (Ed Oxenbould), who dreams of competing in the national paper plane championships. Sam Worthington, David Wenham and Deborah Mailman co-star.
“After I graduated I expected to spend two or three years not doing much while I tried to work my way up through the theatre,” Williams told IF. Then he got a call from Connolly, whose wife, Mullinars Casting agent Jane Norris had spotted Williams at WAPA, inviting him to audition for the Assange telemovie.
“I was packing it,” he said of the audition. He got the part, signed with Marquee Management and his career took off. “I was very fortunate.”
Connolly told IF, “I had to find a young actor who could be credible as one of the most significant figures of the early 21st Century. Alex is a gifted actor with a sharp intellect and he’s playful. We will definitely work together again.”
Williams hasn’t yet seen The Reckoning or Paper Planes (the latter premieres at MIFF) but he was struck by the directors' very different styles. “Rob sits down with you and has a long conversation about how you see your role,” he said. “John has a vision and he wants his actors to see it.”
Unlike some young actors who are determined to try their luck in Hollywood early in their careers, Williams, who is represented by ICM, is taking a more measured approach.
“I want to build a good show reel and hopefully go to the US with some credits,” he said.