Halfway through talking with Alex Dimitriades by phone, our conversation is interrupted because someone asks him for directions. A brief dialogue is overheard, followed by Dimitriades’s hearty laugh and cheery assessment -“ there’s nowhere for the driver to turn back. You’re fucked! he laughs.
It’s happy to note from this encounter Dimitriades seems more like the schoolboy heart-throb Nick from The Heartbreak Kid than the drugged-up gay anti-hero Ari from Head On.
But it’s also a shame.
Ari was an icon of gay debauchery, the nihilistic brainchild of author Christos Tsiolkas, made sexy celluloid by lesbian director Ana Kokkinos. It’s suggested he will always have a gay following for his gutsy performance of Ari, a role that required the heterosexual actor to casually shag a number of men.
He just laughs. I think I had them before that movie. It just cemented things.
Life since Head On has been somewhat less debauched (and certainly not gay). The Greek-Australian actor has dabbled in Wogs Out Of Work theatre, developed a TV image as a devoted cop in the shows Wildside and Young Lions, and returned to film with diverse roles in flicks including La Spagnola and Let’s Get Skase.
Now he’s back on stage in The Woman With Dog’s Eyes, a family drama by acclaimed Australian playwright Louis Nowra. Set in a Blue Mountains hotel, the play is staged in real time, a startling change of pace for an actor accustomed to the short bursts of screen acting.
It just really ups the stakes. It’s stuck in one room, in real time, like it really needs to be resolved, tonight, here now. The air just gets thicker and thicker in that room, he says.
The real challenge, it seems, is balancing serious stage work with more frivolous but perhaps more important career projects. Dimitriades lets slip he has to miss a week of rehearsals to fly to Amsterdam to film scenes for Deuce Bigalow II.
In the immediate wake of Head On Dimitriades said he would hold out for great roles, but with films like Ghost Ship now on his r?m?he’s more willing to get exposure in Hollywood.
You’ve got to. It’s gotta be done. Wherever they come from really. The US marketing machine … is a powerful one and does create a lot of exposure for an actor. But I still feel the same way. I want incredible roles because I’ve had the opportunity to do one. And what I’ve learnt in my experience is they’re fucking rare, he says.
Nowra’s play, however, is proving juicy enough, and it’s a role outside of the potential stereotyping of film. The family in The Woman With Dog’s Eyes is not Greek-Australian, so he’s an atypical casting choice that might not happen in Hollywood film. He offers a final Heartbreak Kid laugh.
It never stopped Al Pacino, he says.