GRAHAM, MARCUS – JOSH JARMAN
HE’S GOT PHYSICAL
Playing Josh Jarman, a slightly nerdy character, gives Marcus Graham the
opportunity to tackle some gently physical comedy, which he loves, as he tells
Andrew L. Urban.
Writer /director Pip Mushin originally offered Marcus Graham the role of
Jarman’s flatmate, Russ, “because I didn’t think Marcus would like to play the
Josh Jarman character … you know, for his image.” But when he suggested that
Graham take the title role instead, “I grabbed it with both hands,” says Graham.
It’s the sort of character role that he feels is far more interesting to play
than a cop (a reference to his tv work).
All this is a little strange, though, considering that Mushin and Graham have
been friends for 22 years; you’d think they’d know each other better. But in
Mushin’s defence, there have been films made about our lack of deep knowledge
about even our most intimate friends and family.
"The question is how far dare you go"
Graham and Mushin are seated next to each other in the lobby café of Sydney’s
W Hotel (W as in Woolloomooloo) and as we discuss the character of Josh Jarman,
Graham swings a thumb at Mushin next to him; “Josh is actually Pip…” And there
may be an element of truth in that, considering that Josh Jarman is a
conservative and shy struggling Melbourne playwright sharing a flat with Russ
(Damien Richardson), a struggling actor. They live next door to talented cellist
Maxine (Daniela Farinacci).
Then one happy day, high profile producer Stan Billows (Kim Gyngell) agrees to
produce Josh’s latest play – so long as he keeps dating Billows’ feisty daughter
Sasha (Kestie Morassi) and keeps her out of harm’s way. But when Billows brings
in director Alex Menglet (Sebastian Thoman) to sex up the play for commercial
audiences, Josh is faced with a conflict of conscience. Does he go along with
this corruption of his work for the sake of glory, or does he pull the plug?
Meanwhile, Russ is taking drastic steps to feed his gambling habit, and Maxine
is having orgasms while playing Brahms Hungarian Dance No 5.
The film offers Graham a chance to use physicality as a tool. “I’m a big fan of
physical comedy,” he says, citing the likes of Buster Keaton. The challenge, of
course, is how far to go, especially when playing a character who, at least on
the surface, is very different to Marcus Graham. “well, as always, you do use
yourself, or parts of yourself to create a character. The question is how far
dare you go. I never want to rip off an audience, I want them to believe in the
Among the tools that make his job easier (apart from 20 years of experience) is
the physicality, and the hair, make up and wardrobe. “I kept the green corduroy
jacket after filming,” he says with a big grin, “and when I put it on I feel
like Josh again.” But he doesn’t wear it much. (Pip Mushin interjects to say
he’s kept the brown jacket from the film. He wears it more often.)
Graham had just finished a season on stage in the celebrated play The Blue Room
(with Sigrid Thornton), in which he appears naked at one point. He had lost
weight for that role, and stayed slim for Josh Jarman. “We were shooting so
mucvh I hardly had time to eat, so that helped, too, because I was always
feeling a bit wired, a bit highly strung. …and emotional,” he says laughing.
Since making Josh Jarman, Graham has completed another season of theatre, this
time in Brisbane, where he worked on the famous ancient Greek drama, Oedipus.
“This two and a half thousand year old play seemed in many ways so incredibly
contemporary,” he says, still astonished. “It’s as if we hadn’t changed at all.”
"I love the communication aspect, the connecting with
Clearly in love with acting, Graham deosn’t have a glib answer for why he
acts. After a second’s thought, a slight smile spreads across his face, a self
conscious look: “It’s the only thing I can do…And my father was an actor…” For
all that uncertainty, he admits he was devlish ambitious, especially when he
left acting school (WAPA, where he first met Pip Mushin).
“But I think that was more to satisfy my ego. I’m still ambitious, but in a
different way. I love the communication aspect, the connecting with ideas. And
it doesn’t matter which medium it is. But probably above all – these days – it’s
all about the people. When I started I didn’t think like that, but these days I
Published November 10, 2005
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Marcus Graham as Josh Jarman
Graham and Kesti Morassi in Josh Jarman
MARCUS GRAHAM ON OEDIPUS and how Freud hijacked the play:
Graham blames Sigmund Freud for mangling the story of Oedipus for modern
generations. Yes, Oedipus did kill his father; and, yes, after that he did marry
his mother. But Freud perverted Sophocles's original story, written 2500 years
ago, by drawing a connection between the two.
The conventional belief is that Oedipus murdered his father so he could sexually
pursue his mother. But, as Graham, who plays the famous character in the
Queensland Theatre Company's new production of Oedipus the King, points out,
Oedipus was running away from his adopted parents after he had been told his
future -- that he would kill his father and marry his mother -- when the sorry
A man stopped him. He was aggressively rude, but Oedipus refused to budge and a
struggle ensued. Oedipus, in an early instance of road rage, lashed out and
killed the man without knowing that he was his natural father. Later, Oedipus
solves a riddle and becomes king, marrying his mother and having children with
her, although he does not know that his queen, Jocasta, is also his natural
“Freud completely hijacked the play,'' says Graham. “Oedipus doesn't do what he
does because he's secretly attracted to his mother.”
(Extract from an article in The Weekend Australian, by Andrew Fraser.)