Viewers who enjoyed Darren Gilshenan’s performance as the hopeless romantic and buffoonish Uncle Terry in ABC-TV’s The Moodys can look forward to watching the actor playing an array of characters, mostly villains.

Gilshenan gets to show the dark side of his acting repertoire in Foxtel’s miniseries Devil’s Playground, the ABC series Old School, the Seven Network’s The Killing Field and ABC2 comedy Maximum Choppage.

“I find it easy to slip into the skin of characters,” Gilshenan told IF from the set of Matchbox Pictures’ Maximum Choppage, in which he plays a former game show host who is the corrupt mayor of Cabramatta, whom he likens to a cross between Sir Les Patterson and Baby John Burgess. “Some villains are like a child who didn’t get any toys.”

Gilshenan has worked steadily in theatre, TV and film since he graduated from NIDA in 1988 but he credits Jungleboys’ A Moody Christmas and the follow-up The Moodys with giving his career a big boost.

He has relished playing Uncle Terry, describing the character as treading the line between tragedy and comedy. He’s keen to audition to play the role in the US remake of The Moodys. The show’s creators Trent O’Donnell and Phil Lloyd are writing a pilot for the Fox network, which O’Donnell will direct.

“The real test is what will Terry be like as an American,” he said. Jungleboys has an option on the actor for a third series in Oz.  The Moodys DVD has just been released.

In Matchbox Pictures’ Devil’s Playground he plays a priest/lawyer with an evil side. "As a lapsed Catholic it was quite delightful," he said. The six part drama, which will air on showcase later this year, is set in 1988, 35 years after Fred Schepisi’s movie The Devil’s Playground. Simon Burke plays a highly respected, newly-widowed Sydney psychiatrist who is hired by the Catholic Church to counsel troubled clergy.

In Matchbox’s Old School he got the chance to work for the first time with Sam Neill and Bryan Brown, who play a retired cop and ex-crim who team up to solve crimes. Darren’s character is a greyhound breeder who commissions criminals to kill people. He was in awe of Neill, admitting that before they met “on the inside I was terrified.”

The Killing Field stars Rebecca Gibney as the leader of a police task force sent to a country town to investigate a shocking crime. Gilshenan plays the school’s headmaster who hides a dark secret.

He describes Maximum Choppage as “big and brash, Charlie Chan meets The Castle” and is enjoying working with a large number of multi-cultural actors.

He will also make a return to the stage, starring with Noelene Brown in Mother and Son, a new play by Geoffrey Atherden, who created the much-loved ABC TV show which featured Garry McDonald and Ruth Cracknell.

The play will premiere at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre in July, directed by Roger Hodgman

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