In the last 12 months David Field has played a sadistic prison warden, a deluded cult leader besieged by zombies, a redneck cattle farmer and a guy who drives prostitutes to their appointments with johns.
No danger of typecasting for the actor who has spent more than 25 years in the business
and is now developing his talents as a writer and director.
He's collaborating on a screenplay with Tony Briggs, co-writer of The Sapphires, and working on the script of a comedy based on American author Lois Meltzer's novel The Murderous Urges of Ordinary Women, and aims to direct both.
Relishing the chance to play a wide spectrum of roles, he tells SBS Film, “That's the beauty of being a character actor: there are very different energies in everything I do.” He returned last week from Johor Bahru in southern Malaysia where he played the doomed cult leader in the US horror/action movie Battle of the Damned.
That features Dolph Lundgren as a mercenary who leads a handful of survivors and a ragtag band of robots into combat against an army of the infected after a virus kills hundreds of people. Field diplomatically describes Lundgren's performance as “okay” and says he enjoyed working with the talented crew and mentoring two young Aussie actors in the cast, Matt Doran and Melanie Zanetti.
Before that Field co-directed with George Basha the Australian film Convict, which was filmed at historic Parramatta Gaol. Basha, who wrote the screenplay and served as the producer, plays an Australian soldier of Arab background who returns home after serving in Iraq. After being involved in an accidental and fatal incident, he ends up in prison. Field plays the warden, a character he describes as a “sadistic piece of work”.
Basha raised $100,000 to make the film, his second collaboration with Field following 2009's The Combination, which was written by and starred Basha, and directed by Field, his debut behind the camera.
“George is an absolute gem,” Field said. The Convict cast includes a few ex-criminals who had first-hand experience of Parramatta Gaol. The producers will start shopping the film to distributors after a fine cut is completed in a month or so.
Field played the cattle farmer in Ivan Sen's Mystery Road, a thriller about an indigenous cop who investigates the murder of a teenager, starring Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten and Jack Thompson. He's been a staunch admirer of Sen since seeing Toomelah, describing him as an “extraordinarily talented young man, probably the best
director I've worked with in 15 years”.
When Thompson first told him about the project, Field asked Jack to relay a message to Sen: “Tell him I'll do anything, even the cooking.” He's full of praise for the footage he saw of Mystery Road, hailing its classic, panoramic Western look and likening it to Hud, Martin Ritt's 1963 drama that starred Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal.
Field enjoyed playing the driver for two call girls in John Duigan's Careless Love and is complimentary about the film, although he felt the plot had a few too many strands. He was philosophical about the film's paltry box-office, acknowledging he didn't expect it to draw a big audience.
He's co-writing with Briggs The Grip, based on the late C.J. McKenzie's book How We Beat the Bandits in Australia, Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, London, the true story of three young Aussies in the 1960s who figured out how to make a fortune from poker machines by the way they gripped the machines. “It's a fantastic story that has slipped through the cracks,” he said.
Field spotted Meltzer's novel, her first, in a Melbourne bookshop last year, contacted the author via her US agent, and she agreed to co-write the screenplay with him. Released in 2007, the self-published comedic tome tells of four fiftyish women, members of a book-reading group, who feel they are invisible and strike back against those who ignore them.
He had a ball making The Combination but was dismayed when the film was pulled from Greater Union's cinemas after an altercation during a screening at the Parramatta cinema. Three days later the film was back on screen but, Field laments, “no one knew it was back on”.