On the Couch with Ewen Leslie

STC-Ewen-Leslie-photo-by-Daniel-BoudWho is Ewen Leslie? 
I don’t know who I am! I feel like I’m constantly working it out. I think a lot of the time we have an idea of who we are and then we’re surprised by things we do or disappointed by things we do. I became a father 7 years ago and I now have two children, so I’m trying to work that out. What I do know is that I’m someone who’s constantly trying to be a better person.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a film editor. I really love editing, I still do, and I suppose it’s one of the reasons why my brain works for this show because I understand it on a bunch of levels. I understand visually what Kip’s trying to do with live editing. When I was younger I bought two video players and a sound mixer and taught myself to edit, and would mix in music and sound and make my own homemade action movies – all before computer editing even existed.

Who inspires you and why?
People that are incredibly brave with their work and brave in what they do, that throw their full hearts into what they do, and people who risk complete failure – it makes me want to do it with my own work. Eryn Jean Norvill is one such person. I saw her performance in The Picture of Dorian Gray in 2020, it was the first play I saw as theatre was opening up again and I was completely blown away by her performance. I remember thinking it seemed like she was out there without a safety net and it was brilliant. I sent Kip Williams an email the next day saying ‘I’d love to be in something like that’ and now here we are.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
The obvious answer is that you’d want to end all war and conflict, but I really like the idea of teaching every child in the world how to paint – surely that would make some sort of positive difference.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
It has to be Italy. I’ve been there twice and it’s the one country that I’ve been to that I want to go back and see all of it. It’s everything – the food, the people – it’s the most extraordinary place.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If they’ve never been to Sydney before it would have to be all the classic touristy places – the places that once you’ve lived here for a while you actually actively avoid – the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, a ferry to Manly, Bondi Beach. I live in the inner west so Mary’s in Newtown, Queen Chow on Enmore Rd. There’s also a great little bar in Enmore called Bar Planet.

What are you currently reading?
At the moment I’m reading Alan Rickman’s diaries that they’ve released called Truly, Madly and that’s been a really beautiful read. I’m about to start the latest Jonathan Franzen novel Crossroads.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve actually been listening to a lot of people’s ‘Best of 2022’ lists – like Barack Obama and director Edgar Wright – which are inevitably going to become my ‘Best of 2023’ list, I feel like I’m always a year behind! I’ve also been listening to a great band from the UK called Black Country, New Road. I subscribe to Pitchfork and do my best to discover new artists and things I haven’t heard. I have a very eclectic taste in music, my partner is rightly terrified to put my iTunes on shuffle at a party. Beyond that, the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Soundtrack is getting a lot of rotation in the car and will no doubt top my end of year Spotify list.

Happiness is?
True happiness to me is my children’s laughter.

What does the future hold for you?
The immediate future holds a lot of me running around on stage talking in an advanced RP accent hoping to god that I’ll make costume changes during this festival tour of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I’m looking forward to going to Perth, I’ve got some family there and I haven’t done a show there in 12 years, and then to Adelaide which I’m really looking forward to – I’ve heard the festival there is amazing. Beyond that it’ll be back to Sydney and we’ll have to see. That’s the great and terrifying thing about being an actor, that you often are unemployed as far as the eye can see, until opportunities come along.

Ewen stars in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – which will be presented at Her Majesty’s Theatre, as part of the 2023 Adelaide Festival: 3 – 12 March. For more information, visit: www.adelaidefestival.com.au for details.

Image: Ewen Leslie – photo by Daniel Boud