Damon Herriman in ‘Perpetual Grace, LTD.’
After portraying a succession of killers, psychotics and all-round bad dudes for the best part of 10 years, Damon Herriman is striving to play more upstanding characters.
With mixed success, it must be said. The actor cheerfully acknowledges his career has been in a purple patch for the last few years but says: “I have been in this business long enough to know it may not last. I had a 10-year run playing bad guys so now I am trying to steer clear of playing psychopaths and violent pigs.”
Not that he would turn down a juicy role as a villain.
Recently he wrapped shooting the second season of FX/Foxtel’s Mr Inbetween, which stars the creator Scott Ryan as professional hitman Ray Shoesmith. Nash Edgerton continues as the director of the comedy/action drama produced by Michele Bennett for Jungle Entertainment and Blue-Tongue Films.
Damon is back as nightclub boss and gangster Freddy. The guest stars include Fayssal Bazzi and Rose Riley, both of whom are now working in Stateless, Matchbox Pictures’ six-part ABC drama about four strangers in an immigration detention centre in the Australian desert, directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse and Emma Freeman.
“The good thing about the second season is that the writing gets even better because the writer (Ryan) knows the characters so well,” he says. “Scott has put a lot more humour into this series. He is an extraordinary talent.”
He plays infamous serial killer Charles Manson in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, which opens here on August 15 via Sony Pictures.
In Lingo Pictures’ miniseries Lambs of God, which premieres on Fox Showcase on July 21, he’s the ruthless priest Father Bob, who is called in after three nuns (Ann Dowd, Essie Davis, Jessica Barden) kidnap a priest (Sam Reid).
And he describes Ruse, the corporal he plays in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, as the most hideous character in his career. Transmission is launching the Colonial-era drama starring Aisling Franciosi, San Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Harry Greenwood and Ewen Leslie on August 29.
Damon Herriman in ‘The Nightingale’ (Photo credit: Matt Nettheim).
His quest to play more redeeming characters paid off in Perpetual Grace, LTD, the US cable series which screens here on Stan. He plays Paul Allen Brown, the son of crooked pastor Byron Brown (Sir Ben Kingsley) and his wife Lillian (Jacki Weaver).
Jimmi Simpson plays James, a con artist who plans to have the couple kidnapped so that he can pretend to be their son and enrich himself with their life insurance.
“My character is very endearing, a sweet guy with a child-like attitude to the world,” he says. “He’s a Robin Hood-style criminal because he wants to put the money to good use.”
It was the first time he had appeared on screen with Weaver, although they were both in the first season of Matchbox Pictures/Foxtel’s Secret City. He had fun shooting the show in New Mexico and is confident it will be renewed by the MGM-owned cable network Epix.
He has yet to see Tarantino’s two hour 45 minute opus, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, the former star of a western TV series whose next door neighbour is film star Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), and Brad Pitt’s as Cliff Booth, Rick’s long-time stunt double.
He thinks he may have more scenes in the director’s 4 hour 20 minute cut which he is determined to release at some point. He relished the chance to work with Pitt for the first time and with DiCaprio, with whom he appeared in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, describing both as nice, regular guys.
Writer-director Mirrah Foulkes’ debut feature Judy & Punch, in which he plays a narcissistic, violent puppet master opposite Mia Wasikowska’s Judy, had its Australian premiere at the Sydney Film Festival. He attended the world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and says: “Mirrah did an extraordinary job.”
One of the attractions of Lambs of God was the chance to collaborate again with the director Jeffrey Walker, who directed the Werner Film Productions/ABC telemovie Riot, in which Damon played gay activist Lance Gowland, earning him the AACTA award for best lead actor in a TV drama.
The next two gigs he is circling are both miniseries – one in the US, the other here. And guess what? He’d play good guys in both.