Brisbane actor Andy Ryan plays Andrew Farriss in new show ‘INXS: Never Tear Us Apart’, the extraordinary story of one of the greatest Aussie rock bands.
After graduating from QUT, Andy Ryan picked up roles in Tomorrow When the War Began, Reef Doctors and Underbelly: Squizzy. Now he plays Andrew Farriss, the music man behind INXS’s worldwide success, in Channel Seven’s new INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, which airs this Sunday at 8.30pm.
“It feels like I’ve got an incredible amount of unwarranted responsibility,” says Ryan. “I think one of the things about getting this role was the responsibility not to muck it up – especially because they’ve got so many fans; we don’t want to let them down.”
The series covers the band’s origins, from their beginnings as a pub band in Perth, to the passing of lead singer Michael Hutchence.
“The first episode follows the story of six boys having an enormous amount of fun, like they’ve gotten away with something incredibly naughty,” says Ryan. “My character wasn’t convinced that we’d be anything more than a pub band, which I always thought was quite funny.”
The highs and lows of the band’s journey presented the cast with an interesting cocktail of fun and challenge.
“We had nine weeks to pretend we were in a rock band when we’re really just actors – we really live the life, and that was really fun,” says Ryan, adding that the nature of the story presented difficulties too. “There’s a lot of sensitive issues that we deal with - we deal with Andrew’s mother passing away, and we deal with him losing his best mate in Michael. And whilst he was really generous with his time in me being able to communicate with him, you can’t just jump in to asking him those questions, you’ve got to build some trust up.
“You’ve got to be really sensitive to the fact that this is his best mate we’re talking about, but to me it’s still rock-god Michael Hutchence. A bit of sensitivity and a bit of respect is needed in finding out the finer details of the grittier stuff that we discover in the show.”
Ryan says while audiences probably expect to see a lot of partying, alcohol and drug use, the sheer amount may be surprising. “A lot of things will shed new light on their story.”
And despite the challenge of learning new instruments without any musical background, Ryan hopes audiences will be convinced.
“As an actor I’ve got a massive ego, so I hope people will love my performance, and I hope the audience looks at my character as ‘the musical fucking genius’,” he says, referencing one of his character’s lines. “Playing instruments like guitar, keyboard – I had to sort of learn it all very quickly, and get away with some of it, cheat some of it.”
“It’s such an important story to tell, we don’t want to muck that up and we don’t want to offend any of their fans or supporters from over the years, while still trying to get on-board new fans and entertain the rest of the country,” he says. “So it’s an enormous amount of responsibility.”
I’ve got a couple of things later in the year that I’ve written, and I’ve been doing a bit of work with the NRL lately on a couple of projects. An actor’s journey is a new one every day. I think that’s why you’re so grateful when you get a role because you know that at any given moment you could be back behind a bar serving schooners. By no means do I think that after this show my career’s on the up-and-up.
Favourite INXS song?
For the nine weeks, it changed like every week. I’m going to say Disappear, but that’s this week! It will probably change next week.
Any advice for aspiring young Brisbane actors?
My advice to any actor would be make sure you want to be an actor. If you just want to be famous, then don’t become an actor. If you want to be an actor, get into acting. I think that’s the most cryptic advice I can give…