Introducing one of SA's most versatile actors: Peter O'Brien

 

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He’s certainly a man of many talents. From soapies to dramas, movies to theatre, South Australia’s own Peter O’ Brien is one of the most versatile actors in the country and I had the pleasure of catching up with him backstage at the State Theatre.

Leigh: Peter, welcome home.

Peter: Thank you!

Leigh: So, a Murray Bridge boy?

Peter: Born in Murray Bridge and raised in Tailem Bend and Jervois, in that axis there.

Leigh: I must say life on the farm must seem a thousand years ago now.

Peter: Look, it’s a terrific place to grow up. I found it personally one of the most ultimate childhoods that you could have because whenever you were given a responsibility to carry out a task, it was expected that you did it, from feeding the chooks to milking the cows. Then there were things you couldn’t do because you weren’t old enough and then it was time to explore. You went with the dog chasing rabbits.

Leigh: Is it what you’d like for your daughter?

Peter: Yes but she’d have to do it in a nice frock I think.

Leigh: Do you get back to Adelaide Very often?

Peter: Yeah, yeah quite a lot, my mums still here, family here, people I grew up with. For so many years I didn’t have a base. I suppose London was the place but Adelaide always remained my base you know, remained my home.

Leigh: What do you do here? Do you have a favourite restaurant you go to or…

Leigh: No I hit the beach. I tend to swim a lot, I like to swim. The other day I was watching these guys jumping off Glenelg jetty and I remembered as a kid after school jus jumping off and swimming out to the old jetty and occasionally someone saying “we'll give you a lift back because there’s a shark around”.

Leigh: That might be a good idea.

Peter: And now you just wouldn’t do it.

Leigh: No doubt enough to scare your mum if she knew what you were up to!

Peter married into Australia’s equivalent of acting royalty. His wife, actor Miranda Otto is the daughter of stage and screen veteran Barry Otto.

Peter: I really enjoy working with her, but it’s interesting. People are reluctant to cast you as husband and wife – they might think we will be blueing on the stage, but we don’t. In the things we play together I’ve had to break up with her, put her in jail, arrest her, bash her up and it certainly doesn’t reflect in our personal life at all.

Leigh: It seems there isn’t anything you haven’t worked in, theatre, film, television, a huge range of roles. Is there one that appeals more than the others?

Peter: They all obviously fulfil different things. Theatre is a performers medium, movies are great but I try not to just enjoy each one when I get it. In a year I try to do all of them if I can.

Leigh: What have you coming up next?

Peter: Who knows! First I find out what my wife is doing, and then I find out what I can do because you have to work it around our daughter. We try not to spend a few weeks away because of her, so we finish a job and then bang we all go.

Leigh: Well you’re certainly a great favourite with Australian audiences wherever you go, so thank you for taking the time to talk.

Peter: Thanks for having me.