Manny Lewis features an All-Star Australian Cast including Leeanna Walsman, Roy Billing and Damien Garvey. Before casting the film Carl Barron, Director Anthony Mir and Producer Martin Fabinyi talked about who would be ideal for the cast, and were blessed with good timing and keen interest from the actors they had considered during the writing process. With acting experience ranging from Carl’s Barron’s first film to Roy Billing’s long and successful career, each actor brings a unique dynamic to the film.
CARL BARRON – Manny Lewis
Carl Barron was born in Longreach, a small town in Central Queensland, the son of a sheep shearer. He has grown to now be, at present, Australia’s most successful live comedian. His gentle, honest and observational comedic style has touched the hearts of millions.
Carl has released four best-selling DVDs. Carl Barron LIVE! is the most successful Australian Stand-Up Comedy DVD in Australian retail history. With over 4.6 million views on his official YouTube channel, close to a million fans on Facebook, and half a million DVDs sold, Carl Barron is an Australian Icon.
For director Anthony Mir, Carl’s focus was key to the successful transition between stand up comedy and acting: “He knows when to go to work – when it’s crunch time. If you need something in the moment, he will always deliver.” Despite not coming to the role as a ‘trained actor’, Roy Billing says of Carl: “I think we both performed from a base of realness – you just go with it and the emotions come out.”
LEEANNA WALSMAN – Maria
Leeanna Walsman has acted in the feature films ONE PERFECT DAY (2004), LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI (2000) and STAR WARS EPISODE II (2002). She has appeared in numerous TV shows such as THE PACIFIC (2010), and mini series such as UNDERBELLY (2012) and WENTWORTH (2013). She has diverse theatre credits to her name.
Director Anthony Mir says of Leeanna: “Manny Lewis is about two isolated people who ever so sweetly and tenuously connect, so Leeanna had to bring that sensibility and sense of isolation to her character. She is such an intriguing person, the role of Maria needed that complexity.”
Leeanna says of the experience: “It’s really important to create a connection and an open discussion with the people that you’re working with, but more than anything a friendship and a trust. I certainly had that on Manny – we formed a friendship and a warm sort of embrace in this job.”
ROY BILLING – Lyle Lewis
Roy is one of Australasia’s most experienced and respected character actors.
He has won and been nominated for awards in both New Zealand and Australia, including a 2009 AFI Award for his role in UNDERBELLY (2008). He is best known for RABBIT-PROOF FENCE (2002), THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER (2010) and AQUAMARINE (2006).
Anthony and Carl had Roy Billing in their heads as the ideal ‘Lyle’ early on in the process. Anthony says of Carl and Roy: “There’s just something about them, the way they look at the world, the way they talk that seemed like a match. They’re both introverted, but also very funny men.”
DAMIEN GARVEY – Jimmy
Damien’s innate versatility sees him playing the whole gamut of characters, from the deranged to the corrupt and everything in between – so he was very happy to play Jimmy in MANNY LEWIS, a closer character to himself than most!
Recent feature films have been DRIVE HARD with John Cusack and THE FEAR OF DARKNESS with Maeve Dermody. Damien will soon appear in the Foxtel series, THE KETTERING INCIDENT and is about to start filming the ASH VS EVIL DEAD series, directed by Sam Raimi.
In 2010, Damien was awarded the AFI (AACTA) Award for his standout role as Detective Graham “Chook” Fowler in UNDERBELLY SERIES 3 (THE GOLDEN MILE), followed by playing Tom Boylan in TERRA NOVA, produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Jon Cassar.
Damien has been honoured to be a principal cast member of RAKE (ABC TV) playing fallen NSW Attorney General, Cal McGregor, husband of Toni Collette, and nemesis of Richard Roxburgh’s Cleaver Greene. Other recent television work: Seven Network’s first “Winter” telemovie, KILLING FIELD opposite Rebecca Gibney, and ABC’s MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES (the ‘murderer’ in both!), SECRETS AND LIES (Network Ten); reprising his role of Stan (the Barman) in the third Jack Irish Telemovie, DEAD POINT (ABC), and GODS OF WHEAT STREET (ABC).