Reimagined Romper Stomper exposes the rabble-rousers
EMPATHY is an important tool for an actor, but it isn't one Lachy Hulme wanted to use in his latest TV role.
The Offspring star transforms into a far-right activist in Romper Stomper, Stan's follow-up to director Geoffrey Wright's polarising 1992 film of the same name.
"I didn't want to do a deep dive into the mentality of somebody like that," he tells The Guide.
"I did some research, just enough to make me despise them even more. I had to look at it as an exercise into acting. When we would cut I would just down tools.
"I've been known for staying in character, but it's only worth staying in character if it's a fun character.
"Sometimes it's changing your body shape or your voice. In this case it was a physical transformation."
Hulme cuts a mean figure as Blake Farrand, the physically imposing leader of the Blue Patriots, a small but passionate group which regularly clashes with their anti-fascist counterparts.
"It took a few weeks of power eating and weight-lifting to look like the character was described, which was like a silver back gorilla, you know, that thick neck look. Then bang it was into it. From saying yes to shooting was only five weeks," Hulme says.
Film critic David Stratton famously refused to rate Romper Stomper because of its violence. The Stan mini-series is similarly explosive, but Hulme doesn't believe it's in any way sympathetic to the alt-right.
"It doesn't humanise them; it demystifies them," he says.
"What our show does is really show them for the rabble they are. They're making it up as they go along.
"Considering everything going on in the world at the moment, the timing of this show is just uncanny. We didn't predict the events that would be transpiring in Australia and around the world. The next weekend after we began shooting the footage came through from Charlottesville (of the Unite the Right rally)."
Blake finds a new ally, or so he thinks, in the mysterious young Kane (Toby Wallace), who helps him fend off attackers during a riot.
"His movement doesn't have a lot of members so when this kid has come to his rescue, in the delirium of that moment he brings him in very quickly because he needs the manpower," Hulme says.
"He doesn't realise he's exposed himself to someone who could be a threat to him. It's quite Shakespearean."
The characters caught up in the crossfire of the two extremist groups are three young Lebanese Australians.
"The secular Muslim characters are the ones we identify with. They're the only sensible people in the whole show," Hulme says.
"As the story unfolds it develops into this sophisticated crime thriller. Episode three is going to knock your socks off."
Romper Stomper premieres on Stan on Monday.