Alex O’Lachlan hopes his first feature film will launch him into the big time,
– by Des Partridge, The Courier Mail, 23 June 2005
Actor Alex O’Lachlan has made a new home in Los Angeles, determined he won’t return to the roles of waiter or bartender he’s played for real in between acting jobs in Sydney. The rugged 28-year-old, who is expected to create a buzz with female moviegoers in his feature debut in the joint Australian/UK film, Oyster Farmer, relocated to Los Angeles from Sydney’s Coogee four months ago.
He is sharing a house in the Hollywood hills suburb of Laurel Canyon with his Oyster Farmer co-star, Diana Glenn, and her boyfriend, New Zealand actor Dean O’Gorman.
(Picture: Alex as Mick in 2007, with Dean who played one of the bad guys in the 1st Episode of Moonlight)
O’Lachlan, who graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney in 2002, said in Brisbane before appearing at a preview screening of Oyster Farmer:
“I don’t want to be mixing drinks in Sydney bars any more. Los Angeles is the mecca for everyone interested in film or television. I’ve had a manager in Los Angeles for the past three years, and I’ve been going back and forth. I’ve recently joined a management agency there,” says O’Lachlan, who had roles in Blackjack and White Collar Blue on television.
“It’s been tough in Sydney. Now I’ve decided I have to be there (Los Angeles) to chase the work. I really want to pursue my craft, and all the people you want to work with, directors, and writers, and actors, they’re in Los Angeles.
I’ve been doing at least one audition every week since I’ve been there, and something might come from one of those. It’s the right place to be to practice my craft.”
One audition that O’Lachlan hopes might bear fruit was for a role in a new movie for an Oscar-winning director, but he doesn’t want to prejudice his chances by talking about it yet. “But I can tell you, that’s a role I really crave,” he said.
O’Lachlan needed no introduction to the Hawkesbury River region where Oyster Farmer was made two years ago by a crew led by New Zealand-born, London-based Australian Film Television and Radio School graduate Anna Reeves, who won international festival awards with her short films.
“It’s a secret little slice of paradise,” says O’Lachlan, who made regular fishing trips to the Hawkesbury when he was growing up in Sydney.
Much of the film was shot around the idyllic Hawkesbury riverside settlement of Brooklyn. In Oyster Farmer, O’Lachlan plays an itinerant 23-year-old who joins an oyster farming community, developing a bond with members of a family who’ve grown oysters for several generations.
O’Lachlan worked alongside well-known talents such as Kerry Armstrong, David Field and Jack Thompson, but it’s a frank outdoor love scene with Secret Life of Us regular Diana Glenn that has provoked most discussion about Oyster Farmer at international film festivals, rivaling interest in the film’s off-beat scenery.
The actor says he’s seen the film four times on the festival circuit, but always leaves his seat when the sex scene, filmed on a mangrove-lined wooden jetty, is about to play.
“As an actor, you know you just have to do the scene. We were pretty uncomfortable, but fortunately I knew Diana before, and we joked our way through the hours it took to get it down. We looked after each other,” says O’Lachlan, who admitted he had minor cuts to his knees from simulating sex on the ancient jetty over several “long and painful” hours.
“If we didn’t laugh about it, we would have been crying. Now I’ve started worrying because Oyster Farmer is going out on 22 screens internationally in July, and there’ll be my naked bum again,” he says.
He says it was tremendous experience to work with Thompson, whose late career revival includes a supporting role in the current art house release, The Assassination of Richard Nixon.
He and Thompson have shared festival platforms discussing Oyster Farmer, and since making the film, O’Lachlan has appeared in another film, Feed, produced by Thompson and his son, Patrick.
“When you act with inexperienced younger actors, there’s a tension you don’t have when you’re working with someone like Jack. He makes you feel safe because he’s there,” he says. “I knew that no matter what I did in the scenes we had together, he’d been watching my back.”
Some added thoughts from others:
“Alex O’Loughlin and Diana Glenn (Pearl) are wonderful discoveries, with great chemistry on screen.”
– David Field, DVD commentary
Finding someone to play the lead role of Jack Flange was challenging. You go down to the beach and there’s all these gorgeous young men who could play Jack Flange but they probably couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag. I had to find an actor who was convincing as a man oyster farmers would give a job to, he had to look like he’d done hard physical work. But I knew I would recognize the qualities when I found the right actor ……. and Alex walked in. He was so keen and I knew he would have the courage to play the role and give it his all.”
– Anna Reeves (writer/director), DVD commentary
“You had to have a great sense of humor to be part of Oyster Farmer. … like the sex scene with what feels like the Spanish Armada parked off the end of the jetty.”
– Anna Reeves (writer/director), DVD commentary
- Of course for the film Oyster Farmer, Alex was still using the surname, O’Lachlan.
- Everybody always comment on the probability of splinters in Diane’s bum after that love scene – forgetting that Alex’s poor knees were actually doing most of the hard work 😛
- For me the scenes he shared with Mumbles (Jim Norton), were the best of the movie. (The pier scene with Diana, excluded, of course 😉 )