With WEST and CLUBLAND, leading man KHAN CHITTENDEN is Australia's latest star on the rise. BY JIM MITCHELL, FILMINK Magazine
Many a young local actor would envy Khan Chittenden's bountiful run of plum roles. By the age of 23, he's played a surfie and a bad boy in television's Blue Water High and Dangerous respectively, a teenager in turmoil in the feature The Caterpillar Wish and with Clubland and West, Chittenden has the rare distinction of starring in two Australian films back to back.
His roles in Clubland and West couldn't be more different. In the former he plays unassuming 20-year-old Tim, a devoted son and brother, and a virgin on the brink of sexual discovery. In the latter he's the tough talking, streetwise Pete, set adrift in the rough and ready world of Sydney's western suburbs. When we visited the West set in 2005, Chittenden spoke of the film's struggling protagonists. “They're pretty intense characters,” he said. “They've got ambitions, but their ambitions are not as far reaching. They don't look outside the world they're in because they don't really have the opportunity to, and so the world they're in is what they become. Pete is a product of his environment completely. There are a lot of situations, and a lot of people that I grew up with, that I thought, 'Yeah, I could base Pete on this'. There are a lot of people out there that are in a situation of hopelessness.”
While he clearly enjoyed his West experience, Chittenden relished the opportunity to play Clubland's Tim, a lighter character in a dramatic comedy. “It was really cool because it was a chance to totally go to the other side of what I was dealing with in West. It was great to be able to play in a comedy and in a situation where you're the good one with good intentions,” he said. “I find Tim very funny because he's always trying to keep it together. It's fun to play that inner turmoil the whole time. I felt like it was really interesting to explore this guy's sexual awakening and also this quite eccentric family.”
Both films have seen Chittenden travel to the northern hemisphere for the first time for promotional duties on the festival circuit, as well as a stop off in Hollywood where he secured an agent. “It has been a bit of a crazy ride,” he says. “Americans… they're different. The industry over there is the centre of the universe; there's so much work going on, and so much opportunity. LA is like the Wild West…enough said!”
When we ask Chittenden if he's happy with how his career is progressing, his response is emphatic, but the young actor remains acutely aware of his enviable position. “I'm over the moon! I'm really happy with where I am at the moment,” he says. “I've had a great run. Something like that just can't go on forever though – that's not how life is. I'm happy because I feel like my work has been received well and I can do it. I love acting! It's what I wanna do.”