Huw Higginson enjoys venturing to the dark side

Huw Higginson.

Huw Higginson often plays admirable, upstanding characters but sometimes he gets more of a kick out of tackling villains.

In the past year the English-born actor has portrayed a brutish magistrate in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale and a serial killer truck driver in Playmaker Media’s Mandarin series Chosen directed by Tony Tilse.

He played more nuanced characters including the abandoned husband and father of Miranda Tapsell’s bride-to-be in Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding; a lawyer who represents the family of a missing priest (Sam Reid) in Lingo Pictures/Foxtel’s drama Lambs of God; and a wealthy gentleman who sends his ward to boarding school in Fremantle/Foxtel’s Picnic at Hanging Rock.

“Unpleasant characters are often more interesting to play,” says the actor who played the well-meaning Constable George Garfield in The Bill for 10 years. “You have to try to find something to like in the people you play.”

Recently he finished shooting Blackfella Films’ Black B*tch (working title), a six-part drama for the ABC which stars Rachel Griffiths as Australia’s embattled Prime Minister Rachel Anderson and Deborah Mailman as Alex Irving, a charismatic and contradictory Indigenous woman who is parachuted into the Senate by the PM.

Cast as Peter Solomon, the PM’s chief of staff, right hand man and fixer, he relished his first opportunity to work with Griffiths, Mailman and director Rachel Perkins.

Playing the hapless Trevor Ford in Top End Wedding was the second time he had collaborated with Tapsell following the first series of Matchbox Pictures/Foxtel’s Secret City, in which he portrayed Reardon, the newspaper editor boss of Anna Torv’s character.

He was chuffed to work with Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Ursula Yovich, Shari Sebbens, Elaine Crombie & Co. in Goalpost Pictures’ romantic comedy, observing: “We were a very together bunch, supporting each other. We’re all very proud of how well it’s done.”

Huw Higginson in ‘Top End Wedding.’

Higginson first came to Australia for the national tour of James McClure’s play Lone Star, produced by Christine Dunstan, in 2000.

He and his partner Hannah Waterman moved here permanently six years ago. They have worked together a few times including in a two-hander, A.R. Gurney’s play Love Letter, directed by Denny Lawrence.

They moved from Sydney to Melbourne last October after Hannah won a plum role – actually three characters – in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Working in Chosen was challenging because many of the cast were Mandarin-speaking and because he had a lot of complex fight scenes which had to be carefully choreographed. “It was great fun,” he says.

In one of his most enjoyable roles he played Alexander King, a rough-around-the-edges early settler with a heart of gold in Ruby Entertainment/ABC’s The Secret River.

His other credits include The Leftovers, Janet King, Rake, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Deadline Gallipoli and Hiding.

“I have been very fortunate in playing a wide range of characters after being seen as a cop in people’s living rooms for 10 years,” he says.

Both Huw and Hannah are the offspring of actors. His dad Tim Wylton starred in TV’s My Hero and As Time Goes By and appeared in numerous Royal Shakespeare Company productions. Hannah’s dad is New Tricks’ Dennis Waterman.

They have a son Jack, who’s 6. If and when the day comes when he tells his parents he wants to be an actor, Huw acknowledges: “It would be difficult to say no.”