The year was 2015 and I was in Melbourne for the annual Screen Producers of Australia (SPA) conference. The event was a little bit thrilling since it capped off what had been a dream couple of years for me, creatively.
My men’s talk show had aired on a few community TV stations around Oz, I’d won two presenting awards for ‘best new talent’ at the tender age of 45 and then SPA named me one of 15 producers nationwide as a Ones To Watch – um, a producer to watch.
I was on a high. And totally in love with my industry. Everything was going my way, goddammit! Tall Poppy? What madness do you speak of?!
I attended the conference with my fellow ‘watchees’… soaked up the panel discussions, the interviews with American guests in expensive sneakers and even pricier Hollywood advice, rubbed proverbials with industry players. And Twitter. Yes, I was going nuts on Twitter. Firing off this pic and that pithy summary. Making observations. Generating Foundis wit. I was on fire, I tell ya. And then… out of the blue one morning, a man claiming to be a famous Aussie actor replied to one of my missives. His humour, dry. His responses, quick. Was this the same man who made women melt with his floppy fringe, beaded bolero and cuban heels? Surely, not.
Well, in my world, everything is possible. Even random tweets from Paul Mercurio – actually especially unexpected missives from such a celebrated dancing dude.
So, we exchanged a few notes on Twitter where we talked movies, opportunities, LA and even his passion for spicy chicken rubs, we decided to stay in touch. Paul met my family a year later in Sydney. We did the Facebook catch up thing occasionally. And then A Little Bit of Lip launched and I reached out to him in early 2019. I knew he had a story that went beyond the ballroom and when Paul sat with L and I, he delivered.
But this isn’t about painting a ridiculously perfect picture of an actor I’ve always admired. I’m bored just writing that sentence. No.
This is about shining a light on the man who did the meteoric rise to fame stuff in the early 90s, boarded the Hollywood train too, bought the t-shirt, came back down to earth, did the Aussie TV shows, shot some shorts, embarked on a cooking career and today has one of the most intimate, vulnerable and endearing takes on this beautiful mess we call life you’re likely to hear.