“It was intimidating enough playing him let alone the fact that he was also my boss!” laughs Aaron Glenane about stepping into the shoes of Michael Gudinski for Molly, a mini-series that deftly traces the life and career of music icon Molly Meldrum, the first part of which screened last Sunday. Those not instantly familiar with the name will certainly be familiar with the classic Australian acts he signed, which include Skyhooks, Paul Kelly and Kylie Minogue. He’s often referred to as “The Godfather of Australian Rock ‘n’ Roll”, and he just so happened to be producer on Molly.
“I remember the day of the first table read,” Glenane recalls. “Everyone was there and in walks Gudinski. Slowly everyone’s eyes turn towards me. Our producer, John Molloy, stood up and said ‘Welcome everyone to our exciting first table read. Thanks so much for coming. I’d like to introduce to you all to Michael Gudinski – Molly’s lifelong friend, Mushroom Records founder, and producer on this wonderful show.’ John then turned to me and said, “Aaron…good luck!’”
Fortunately for Glenane, the young actor got to spend some time with Gudinski in his natural environment. “I got the most from our first meeting at Enmore Theatre in Sydney when he was touring ALT-J,” the actor recalls. “We chatted for a while backstage about music and he said, ‘You got the role because you’ve got the same nose as me. I’ve broken mine twice. You?’ ‘Once,’ I said ‘but I’ll break it again before the end of the shoot!’ We then went out and watched the band with the audience. I saw him look around at the crowd, see the smiles on everyone’s faces and he just lit up.”
The series touchingly charts Gudinski’s warm and occasionally fiery friendship with Meldrum, who is played by Samuel Johnson. “Gudinski and Molly are like ‘The Odd Couple,’” Glenane says. “Gudinski is rock and Molly is pop. It’s a love/hate relationship that lasts a lifetime and most of the scenes explore this dynamic. We see Gudinski secure Skyhooks for the first live show of Countdown, which was on colour television for the first time. There is a classic barney about Molly dedicating an entire episode of Countdown to KISS over Gudinski’s Australian acts.”
The role is the latest in an impressive run of performances for Glenane, whose previous credits include scene-stealing turns in The Black Balloon and Drift, and who more recently starred alongside Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett in the locally shot drama Truth. “It’s pretty surreal when you read a call sheet that says “Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Aaron Glenane”! What blew me away about Robert Redford was he was 78 at the time of filming and in this particular scene he had to make his way through a crowd of 30 screaming extras with four bags in his hands, do our dialogue and rush into a cab… and he did it all with a smile. I could see that after having worked for so long and having done so many amazing films that he still loved acting. Pure and simple.”
The actor also starred alongside local legend Aaron Pedersen (Mystery Road) in the upcoming thriller Killing Ground, which he likens to Wolf Creek and Snowtown. “It definitely has a survival thriller quality and is a starkly raw and honest look at a terrifying series of events. It begs the question ‘What would you truly do? Not you as a superhero, you as a human being.’”
After shooting Killing Ground, Glenane jetted to LA and signed with Untitled Entertainment, who also represent the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson and Naomi Watts. The actor, however, isn’t simply waiting for the offers to roll in. “There are a couple of stories that I’m working on,” he reveals. “It seems that the two go hand in hand and the amount of A-list actors who have production companies is astonishing. Developing projects means you are already a working actor, writer or director and when those bigger opportunities come along it’s just another part of your storytelling career – you are constantly creatively fulfilled! I’ve learnt you can’t wait for anything and that no one wants your dream to happen more than you do.”
Molly: Part 2 will screen on Channel 7 this Sunday at 8.30pm, and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from February 18.