WAAC present Holding The Man with Ryan Corr

Last night the WA Aids Council and Luna Palace Cinemas held a very special premiere screening of ‘Holding The Man’ with a Q&A session and book signing with lead actor Ryan Corr.

The film, based on the well-known memoir of Australian author Timothy Conigrave, is a story of great love and loss that lays bare the horrific effects of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

Corr’s depiction of the infamous Conigrave has already garnered much acclaim from critics.

We spoke to Ryan prior to the screening to find out what went into embodying a much adored figure from Australian literature.

Beyond the book, how did you get to know Tim Conigrave?

Well of course the book was the first and foremost bible, but we also met with Tim’s family. What was very unique to this project and playing someone that existed was the opportunity to do that.

To hear from his loved ones, his friends and most importantly his family about who he was within these different environments. If you asked my mum who I was, you’d get a very different answer from my sister or my best friend or an ex, so we have that experience of trying to collate all these different ideas and memories of Tim.

I had 3 hours of audio interview of Tim after writing the book where he’s discussing particular incidents that occur in the book as well as the writing of the book itself. That was a real go-to for me… hearing Tim’s voice was paramount to understanding who he really was.

Any character you play… our job is to justify and try to understand and not judge the character you are playing. We had all of these people come out and assist us in understanding who Tim Conigrave was. You can never actually become someone else, but you can do your best.

One of the things that really impressed me is that he’s a flawed character, he’s a real person, and that comes across – but you still have great affection for him at the end of the film. Was getting that balance right at the forefront of your mind?

Yeah, it really was. People are flawed, people have good and bad sides and some see more of one side than the other depending on who you are in their life. Much like balancing the humour with the tragedy in this film and finding the hope in it.

Finding the balance of characters that were real and make mistakes and have to work through them. He hurt John when they broke up and finding and understanding where they were up to in their life… those qualities were just as important as representing the parts of him that we love.

How hard is it to play a teenager?

Really hard man! I fit a school uniform very very differently to when I was seventeen. What struck us playing these characters is that the difference between me now and then is a difference in mentality. It’s a difference in our understanding and perhaps the way you relate to the world around you.

At seventeen you think you’ve got it all figured out and as you mature, I think you pick your battles a bit more and you have a better understanding of how things will resonate with people. Of course, I had insights of what Tim was going through at that time with the book and details from his brother and sister about what was actually going on…

Sometimes we would play three decades in a day and it was a matter of putting on the ‘70s wig to remind us where we were.

You can’t play age, but we discovered that you can play mentality.

We spoke to Craig Stott (John Caleo) last month and he mentioned you took him on a date to meet your family?

My sister had only recently come out and we thought it would be a great exercise for me to experience first-hand the difference in the way people view you if you’re queer in this society. It’s very different to the ‘70s and ‘80s but I think there’s a lot of things that resonate today. My father knew because it was actually my father’s partner’s family and we just walked in holding hands and just sat there and didn’t say anything about it one way or another – we just wanted to go in and explore what that would be about.

We went on a number of dates and Craig and I would often talk about when we were first cast together as being the start of Craig and Ryan’s relationship and that was something we really had to forge in order to understand our love and find the essence of these two boys and create a bond so that when we looked at each other, we were actually seeing another person and not seeing a character – we were actually talking to someone we knew and had developed a real love for.

‘Holding The Man’ is now screening at Luna Leederville and SX. Tickets available from lunapalace.com.au



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