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Snowtown - Lucas Pittaway interview (exclusive)

Snowtown, Lucas Pittaway

Interview by Rob Carnevale

FIRST-time actor and Snowtown local Lucas Pittaway talks about playing Jamie Vlassakis in Justin Kurzel’s acclaimed film as well as how he went about preparing for the character and coping with some of the more challenging scenes.

Q. This is your first film as an actor, so how does it feel to be talking about a film like Snowtown on the other side of the world?
Lucas Pittaway: I’m stunned. Absolutely stunned. Last night, for example, we were seven storeys up in some hotel and eventually I said to Justin [Kerzel, director]: “You never told me there was an opportunity like this to be here in London talking about the film and having the time of our lives.”

Q. I gather you first got spotted in a reject shop for this role of Jamie Vlassakis?
Lucas Pittaway: [Laughs] Yeah, the reject shop! I was walking out of there and… it’s amazing just thinking about it… that just over a year ago I was going to join the Army and I didn’t know what was going on. And then some lady came up to me and asked me: “Do you want to audition for a film?” That’s how quick it can change. I’m completely stunned by how it’s been going ever since.

Q. I gather the audition was a bit different from what you might traditionally expect?
Lucas Pittaway: Yeah, well, she came up to me and said: “Can we interview you about living in the area?” So, I said: “Yeah, sure.” Then afterwards, she said: “We’re making a movie, would you like to come in for an audition?” Again, I said: “Alright then…” I didn’t know this at the time but apparently not everyone was going in for an audition and many people weren’t turning up. But when I walked in it wasn’t an audition where you have lines and you have to act out a character. It was an audition where they sat me across from Daniel Henshall [who plays serial killer John Bunting in the film] and said: “Just react to him and respond to him how you normally would…” He tried to get me irate, or get me sad, and he brought out emotions in me. It felt like I had a nice lovely dance with the casting director. And then after a few days of screen testing they said they’d like to offer me the lead role, to which I instantly replied: “Fuck yeah!”

Q. And then you went camping with Daniel Henshall?
Lucas Pittaway: [Laughs aloud] Yeah, you find out someone is going to be playing a serial killer and then you go running off to Blanchetown for a couple of days of fishing!

Q. How important was that experience for you, though, in terms of being able to bond with him in that mentor/father-figure kind of way we see in the film?
Lucas Pittaway: Oh, that’s one of the main factors that helped to make this film so meaningful… when you view the film you see the relationships that we actually had and you view it from the point of view of Jamie. You feel like John Bunting is a nice guy. It was great that I could feel that Dan was like a Dad to me and a mate, and Louise Harris feels like my mum, both on-screen and off-screen.

Q. A lot of the information surrounding the real-life case remains suppressed by the courts, especially Jamie’s details. So, how did you get a feel for Jamie?
Lucas Pittaway: Mainly through the script. I checked the Wikipedia page but other than that I didn’t read the books. I basically just stuck to the script and from what Justin [Kerzel, director] would guide me with and inform me with.

Q. How challenging was it to shoot some of the film’s more difficult scenes, such as the murder of your character’s brother, or the assaults that took place on you?
Lucas Pittaway: It’s really exhausting. If Justin told me at the start of the day those were the scenes we were doing, I’d be like: “Oh…. [pauses]” If you found out the night before, you’d be like: “Shit!” I’m just so glad I had Justin and Dan with me and the family environment with people like Louise and the kids, or else I wouldn’t have been able to make it through. I mean, I’m glad I had Justin tell me: “Come on, you can do this! Let’s do this scene. Stop your crying in here and get out there and cry!”

Q. What’s the biggest lesson you took away from the experience?
Lucas Pittaway: Basically, how to act naturally in front of the camera. I mean, it gave me the opportunity to meet all these new people and discover all these new things in my life. I learned a lot about life in the process.

Q. Has this started to open more doors for you as an actor? Have you noticed more opportunities starting to appear?
Lucas Pittaway: Yeah. I’ve been given an opportunity that I would never have had. Otherwise, I would never have thought about acting. Now, I have an agent and I’ve been going to auditions and things like that, which has been really exciting. I’m glad I‘ve taken it up.

Q. Have you got anything else lined up?
Lucas Pittaway: Well, I’ve worked on a few short films since and when I get back to Australia I have some auditions going for me, so good luck to myself!

Read our review of Snowtown