Peter Kowitz, our star tutor for the upcoming Intermediate Screen Acting Course answered a few of our questions for our Tutor Spotlight! Peter Kowitz is one of Australia’s most versatile and accomplished actors. He has been nominated for AFI awards on four occasions; for drama (Bodysurfer, The Long Way Home, and GP) and comedy (Supernova), winning twice Best Actor for Bodysurfer and The Long Way Home. In 1989, he received the Variety Heart award for Television Actor of the Year.
Q: When did you decide acting was for you?
At university I became involved in student theatre and managed to be cast in lead roles. I had no idea that it would be a profession like any other. I was fortunate to have encouragement from people in the profession who gave me work. For four years I was on contract with the Old Theatre Company from the age of 19 and worked from 10am-11pm. It gave me the structure I needed as an actor and a love of the work.
Q: Who are your favourite actors?
My early influences were the Dynamic American Actors of the 60’s and 70’s. Brando, Pacino, Deniro, Hoffman and Streep. I think Cate Blanchett is a fabulous actress and I’ve been lucky enough to have been directed by her in a 2-hand play “Blackbird” at The Sydney Theatre Company. I also worked with Stephen Soderberg on the play “ToT Mom” at the Sydney Theatre Company and as an amusement we shot an improvised full-length film with him. That was once in a lifetime experience.
Q: Can you tell us anything about current or upcoming projects you are working on?
I am currently in preparation to play Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman for Q’ld Theatre in the new year. I learn all my lines before I start rehearsal so I am free to fully embrace the text on the floor. I recently finished performing in Creditors by August Strindberg for State Theatre of South Australia and in April next year I will appear in Heisenberg with the Melbourne Theatre Company. This show is a two-hander with Kat Stewart. So a heavy theatre programme!
Q: What roles from Theatre, Film or Television have inspired you the most as an actor?
In my work with the STC I’ve been lucky enough to be directed by Cate Blanchett and Steven Soderbergh. Cate directed the two-hander Blackbird that we took to NZ and Germany, and Steven directed his play Tot Mom but also shot and directed a film with us during the rehearsal period. A film we improvised. Very exciting. I’m very lucky to be able to enjoy all acting. I get just as much fun from doing a soap as I do from theatre or the shows I’ve been fortunate to win a couple of AFIs for.
Q: What advice would you give to a developing actor that is trying to take the next step in his or her acting career?
All actors are developing actors. I learn all the time. I learn from watching younger actors and older actors. I change my method often. Every project will teach you something. Be alive and in the moment and be generous to your fellow actors. And remember play the action — not the feeling.
The Screenwise Screen Acting Intermediate Course is a six-week intensive designed for actors who are ready to sharpen their screen acting skills and go further than the acting basics. There are only a few places remaining for our final Screen Acting Intermediate workshop in 2018. Register today to avoid disappointment.
Photograph © Tim Jones Photography