In his own words
BY BRONWYN MURPHY
Between completing a feature film in Australia and returning to the US to appear in a television series, Damon Herriman recently recorded a lengthy oral history interview with fellow actor Lorna Lesley at the NFSA.
Damon is currently well known for his role as Dewey Crowe in the US television series Justified (2010-15). Damon appears in the pilot episode and first three series. While he is absent from Series 4, the writers focus on Dewey and his extended family in Series 5. In the following excerpts from his oral history Damon discusses Dewey’s look and character and the writing:
Damon was a sought-after child actor and got his first big role at eight years of age, in The Sullivans (1976-83). Subsequent television roles included Patchwork Hero (1981), Sara Dane (1982), For the Term of His Natural Life (1983) and Carson’s Law (1983-84). During his oral history, Damon talks about his family and the significant part his actor father played in establishing his career.
He took a break from acting during his high school years, and returned to acting at age 18 with roles in a theatrical production of Brighton Beach Memoirs and a couple of episodes of The Flying Doctors (1988). Damon decided not to attend NIDA and he reflects on the advantages for him of being available for acting jobs, rather than studying. His first big break as an adult came with The Big Steal (1990) where he worked with Claudia Karvan and Ben Mendelsohn:
In the 1990s young actors were becoming entrepreneurs, producers, directors and creating their own work: Tropfest short film festival started in 1993; a group of artist friends formed the independent filmmaking collective Blue-Tongue Films in 1996; and the independent theatre company, Tamarama Rock Surfers, started in 1998. Damon wrote a play, Soar, which was staged by Tamarama Rock Surfers and later became a short film, for which Damon won Best Screenplay at Flickerfest in 2004:
A role in Nash Edgerton’s Blue-Tongue Films short film Fuel (2003) gave Damon a chance to break away from the nerdy, nice-guy character that had been his calling card and to take on the persona of a creepy, inbred, unwashed guy. This role led to his being cast in House of Wax (2005), with Paris Hilton, and further work in the US.
In 2000, Damon successfully applied for a green card to work in the US. He intended to be there for 12 months but only stayed ten weeks. Three trips later, he auditioned for a role in the US television series The Unit (2006), not realising it would result in meeting acclaimed writer-director David Mamet:
Damon now regularly commutes between Australia and the US. In his full oral history, he discusses differences between the local and American industries and his recent work on Australian productions including The Water Diviner (2014), The Little Death (2014), The Outlaw Michael Howe (2013), Laid (2012) and the forthcoming Down Under (2016), set during the aftermath of the 2005 Cronulla riots.
Listen to the full interview on SoundCloud: