Nicholas Burton.

Last year was a tale of two decades for actor Nicholas Burton.

The 24-year-old was transported to the ’80s via his role as Andrew Queller in Netflix’s Pieces of Her, before stepping into the ’70s to play surf cinematographer Tom ‘Sharpie’ Sharp in ABC series Barons.

Burton told IF the projects offered a retro introduction to episodic drama, following his previous experience in web series and short films.

“It’s weird I haven’t done anything set in the present day, but it’s so much fun to see all the sets. You can really step into the world and feel like you are escaping reality,” he said.

“We had the fake beards and the fake joints [for Barons] and it just felt like one big party.”

The young actor was on board for the final three months of the Pieces of Her shoot, which took place in Sydney and Oberon in NSW’s Blue Mountains during the first half of 2021.

Based on Karin Slaughter’s 2018 novel of the same name, the Made Up Stories series centres on 30-year-old Andy Oliver (Bella Heathcote) and her mother Laura (Toni Collette), who experience an unexpected chain of events following a random act of violence in the sleepy Georgia town where they reside.

Desperate for answers, Andy embarks on a dangerous journey across America, drawing her towards the dark, hidden heart of her family.

The creative team behind the series includes showrunner Charlotte Stoud and director Minkie Spiro, who also executive produce with Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky, and Casey Haver, Lesli Linka Glatter, Slaughter and Janice Williams.

Toni Collette and Bella Heathcote in ‘Pieces of Her’. (Photo: Mark Rogers/Netflix © 2022)

Playing the son of multi-billionaire, Martin Queller (Terry O’Quinn), a key figure in Laura’s past, Burton stars alongside David Wenham, Jessica Barden, Omari Hardwick, Joe Demspie, and Jacob Scipion.

After submitting a self-tape, he went through a series of Zoom calls with Stoud and Spiro, describing the opportunity to work with the “many female powerhouses” at the helm of the project as a highlight of his experience.

“The nuanced and naturalistic dialogue, mixed with the exploration of family relationships and lies and revenge, made it such an amazing thing to play a part in,” he said.

“The cast was obviously stunning and I was able to make some lifelong friends around the world, so hopefully I’ll have a place to stay when I go to the UK.

“I learnt a lot about how to maintain your energy and stay in the moment when there is so much going on around you, as well as how to navigate working with different people from different parts of the world.”

Burton went almost immediately from one Sydney set to another, with only a week between Pieces of Her wrapping and the first table read of Barons.

Produced by Fremantle, Micanical Media, and 2Jons, the eight-part series follows a surf-crazed group of hippy friends whose desire for ultimate freedom and the perfect wave takes them from the beach to the boardroom as they build billion-dollar surf empires.

Sean Keenan and Ben O’Toole lead a cast that features Hunter Page-Lochard, George Pullar, Lincoln Younes, Sophia Forrest, Vivienne Awosoga, Karina Banno, newcomer Megan MacKenzie, Kick Gurry, Catherine Van-Davies, Alexander England, and British-American actress Ione Skye.

Directing the drama are Shawn Seet, Fadia Abboud, and Emmy award-winning surf director Taylor Steele, on whom Burton’s character is loosely modelled.

The actor relished the chance to play someone that “existed in real life and was actually on set”.

“I got to learn so much about his experiences growing up in the surf world with Kelly Slater and all his friends,” he said.

“[My character] is a bit of a tripper, who goes from country to country and just lives by the seat of his pants.”

Filming took place predominantly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, with producers using a hut at Long Reef for the board-making factory featured in the series, while also shooting on location at Turimetta Beach and at a studio in Eastwood.

Cast and crew were in the midst of rehearsing when the Delta lockdown began, forcing changes to the locations used and COVID marshalls on set.

Burton said it was interesting how the changed environment impacted the camaraderie and chemistry on set.

“Obviously, it would have been great to sink beers and get to know each other on the outside but they just created a really safe but open set for us to be able to get to know each other and create that bond, which I think we did,” he said.

“We all catch up now that life’s back to normal and reminisce on how good those times were, because that ended up being our friend group in the absence of not being able to see anyone else.

“Actors always say the people they worked with felt like family but that actually did because you couldn’t even see your own family at that time.”

Burton is set to divide his time between acting and writing this year, working across TV and YouTube production company Granny Flat Pictures, which he co-created while at NIDA.

His work on the video-sharing platform includes the 2018 comedy series Dave & Theo, which he directed, wrote, and produced with David Hoey, while also starring as Theo.

Current projects include developing a TV mini-series he has written and plans to star in, as well as being part of a radio play for LiSTNR.

The multi-hyphenate said he also wanted to create more short-form content for YouTube.

“It’s definitely something I am extremely passionate about and now that things are more open, we can get our crews back up and running and hopefully make some good content for the world,” he said.

Pieces of Her premieres on Netflix March 4.

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