Matt Nable is known for his acting work in Australian film and television. He is also a writer, sports commentator and former professional Rugby League footballer. He has acted in a number of films including KILLER ELITE, JASPER JONES and RIDDICK and has appeared on US television’s ARROW and Australian television’s HYDE & SEEK . Now he is starring in 1%, a feature film that he wrote in 2008. He plays Knuck, the president of an outlaw motorcycle gang who has to re-establish his leadership after a period spent in prison. The film, shot in Western Australia, by first-time feature director Stephen McCallum, is an action-packed and violent look at a criminal sub-culture. Nable’s performance is powerful and quite different from anything else we have seen previously. AccessReel’s Darran Price spoke with the actor about his new movie.
1% opens in cinemas October 18.
Read the interview highlights or listen to the full audio below.
NABLE: Hey, Darran, how are you?
AREEL: Good. 1% has done its festival rounds and it is getting its general release on October 18.
AREEL: You’ve attended a lot of these festivals, what has been the response?
NABLE: Icon are going pretty wide with it. And there’s obviously a wide audience who are interested in going to see it. The reaction is what we hoped. When we went to Toronto, there was a mixed reaction. It was quite polarising over there. Here, it’s been more favourable, but (still) polarising as well. Toronto is a very high-brow festival and everyone over there and their dog, is a critic. We were reviewed really well and then we weren’t reviewed well. That was the learning curve. Back here the Australian psyche understands this world a bit more; the vernacular, the violence and tropes we used resonated much more with Australian audiences. It’s been a strong reaction, either way. Which is what we wanted.
AREEL: You wrote the script, what is the process to write a script like this?
NABLE: I originally wrote this is in 2008. It was a very different project. I put it away and picked it up again. James Hilton (producer) had seen a short film I’d done called FELL and got in contact with me. He knew I was writing as well. We met and he said, “Have you got anything?” I threw this (1%) at him and he jumped on it pretty quickly and then it went through a really big re-write. Mac Gudgeon, who’s a wonderful scriptwriter came aboard towards the end and ironed out all the kinks with me. It’s been a long process to get it right. One of the challenges in this male-dominated world was finding the space for these two female characters.
AREEL: Did you always intend to play the role of Knuck?
NABLE: I did. It’s funny, as an actor you relish those kinds of roles, but it’s hard as a father of a young family to be doing them all the time. I transformed physically for that film. I put on a lot of weight. He’s an abhorrent sort of man. There’s a vulnerability there, and he’s confused, but on the surface it’s a brutal type of portrayal. So, as proud as I am of it, I won’t be rushing to do one of those again.
AREEL: Shooting it would have been quite full on. How did you unwind after a day of shooting?
NABLE: We were all very close on this set. You’re in close proximity, away from families, so you bond very tightly. You become very close, very quickly on those types of things. The whole cast hung out and unwound together. If someone was battling a bit, then we were all there for each other. I got everyone together every weekend we were there. There were parties where I was staying. It was a wonderful experience, they don’t happen all that often, so I feel very fortunate.
AREEL: You could definitely see the bond you had with the cast and crew who were down with you at CinefestOz.
NABLE: They were wonderful, wonderful people, mate.
AREEL: You shot the film in Perth and you’ve been in a few things that shot here. What’s it like filming here?
NABLE: I love it. I’ve had a ball. I’ve done four films in Perth or Western Australia. I did SON OF A GUN, THE TURNING, JASPER JONES and now this. We lived in a nice neck of the woods, Mosman Park down the road from Cottesloe. It was beautiful weather, coming in to Perth – it was wonderfu.l (laughs)
AREEL: You’ve had a solid career for at least ten years now. Is there any role that you want to play that you haven’t yet?
NABLE: It’s got to be something that I feel can challenge me, but at the same time you’ve got to make money, so it’s a double edged sword. And every actor is in that position. Sometimes casting directors haven’t seen the diversity of my work. You’re battling that sometimes. At this point in my career, I’m lucky enough to make some choices. Sometimes jobs that are easy geographically and keep me at home, also come into play as well. It’s a fluid type of decision-making process for me.
AREEL: Have you ever thought about getting behind the camera?
NABLE: Down the line. I just don’t think I am equipped and savvy enough as a filmmaker to be doing that yet. I’d probably fail and fail pretty well. From a writing point of view, if I’m not writing a script, I’m writing a novel and that’s of great comfort. From a film-making point of view I love acting, and I enjoy the collaboration process of writing a screenplay. But I’m not thinking about the process of making films when I am not in front of the camera. And I think if you’re a real director, you’ve got to be across all that. At this stage of my life, I don’t have the time and I don’t have the inclination. Maybe down the line. It’s something that I’ve thought about.
AREEL: You’ve played opposite actors like Clive Owen, Ewan McGregor and Robert Deniro to name just a few. Have you had an experience with someone like that on set that has stood out for you?
NABLE: I did a film with Vin Diesel (RIDDICK) and his onscreen persona is diametrically opposed to how he is in real life. I was really taken by that and really impressed with how present he was. And Jordi Moller a Spanish actor who I was involved with (also on the film RIDDICK). Simone Kessell (from 1%). I had an immense amount of work to do with her, just blew me away. She is nothing like the woman she plays. She transformed as much as anyone transforms. I’ve been very lucky with the people that I’ve worked with. I’m remarkably fortunate.
AREEL: Going back to 1%. I loved Aaron Pedersen in the film. He was incredible.
NABLE: Amazing. He really knocked it out of the park. He’s wonderful actor and a beautiful human being. He’s one of Australia’s gems, he really is.
AREEL: We need to mention ARROW because it’s such a huge television show. Did your life change much after that?
NABLE: Arrow is a different universe altogether. It’s a very specific type of fan who watch that show. The Comic-con type of people. So I did a lot of those. It was great fun. Playing that character was amazingly rewarding. It was one of those jobs where you were overwhelmingly excited to get to work. (laughs)
AREEL: There’s an episode in the next season called The Demon and there’s a rumour your character is going to pop back in.
NABLE: That may happen. I’ll get a phone call at some point asking if I’m available. If I get asked, I’d definitely come back for sure.
AREEL: Lastly, what’s coming up for you?
NABLE: I’m on the press tour for this. I’ve got another film called KNUCKLE that we had some really good attachments to that fell over a week out from shooting last year. So that might get back up. There’s always stuff around, it’s trying to make the right choice.
AREEL: Once again I appreciate you talking to me. I appreciate you taking the time.
NABLE: It’s a pleasure, mate.