Interview with Harry Greenwood
Question: Can you talk us through the preparation prior to the filming of Gallipoli?
Harry Greenwood: It started off, for me, and a lot of the other actors doing a lot of research in terms of reading diary entries from the soliders on the front line, were writing. That research gave me a great insight into what the day-to-day life was like on the front line. Obviously we hear about dates and the general decisions that were made however we don't know what it was like for the men, fighting. The Military Advisor that we worked with explained that 90% of the time was spent waiting around and 10% fighting; they had a lot of time on their hands and were faced with adversity in those times such as disease, exhaustion, finding food and trying to find a place to sleep; it was quite a grim reality but something they faced with a strong character and a will to carry on.
Question: What can you tell us about the filming of Gallipoli?
Harry Greenwood: We were shooting an hour out of Melbourne in Bacchus Marsh and Werribee. The set they created at the Rifle Range was where we shot most of the scenes as it was to scale and life-like. As an actor, when you're facing an incredible set and you've got the costume on and someone calls action as guns fire around you and there are bombs going off – you almost don't need to do any acting as you feel you're right there and you have to react in the moment.
Question: What was the most difficult part about being on set of Gallipoli?
Harry Greenwood: Putting yourself in the position of what it would be like to be in a constant state of fear as you're under attack 24 hours, 7 days a week; your life is on the line and at any moment you could die – it's a constant state of hyper-awareness and fear that is quite hard for actors to trick ourselves to imagine, although that's the job of an actor. It was very hard, for me, especially as I have lived a very comfortable life and I've never been faced with such adversity and the stench of death that was so present, to them. To place yourself within the space was extremely challenging but as I said before having the elements surrounding you did make it easier.
Question: How did you feel when you first put on your uniform (costume)?
Harry Greenwood: It was strange as suddenly your identity is taken away from you and you are just a number. Certainty when we put the costumes on, with about 30 extras as well as the actors we found ourselves standing in a big group and we felt as if we were just one of a big team all going towards the same thing. To the Generals you're just another number, which is how they saw the soldiers as there is no face to the solider. It was quite confronting but it made me think about how serious being in the Army is with the regiment, saluting, the marching and how that all ties into the serious business which is essentially about killing, which is horrible.
Question: Did you feel honoured to be acting in such an influential Australian TV-film?
Harry Greenwood: Yes, 100 years on it is important to reflect and remember because the story understandably is going to mythologise and perhaps go away from the truth of what happened. It was a great opportunity and right from the beginning we wanted to create this very personal and human re-telling of the story of the ANZAC soldiers at Gallipoli as it's important to remember that it was essentially a very sad, sad event. There was no glory and there is no celebration for them it was tough and they had to face it unflinchingly. To tell the story, 100 years on, and try and remember the horrors of war is hopefully a lesson to people and for those to remember that war is never a good thing and something we hope we never have to return to.
Question: What did you learn, about yourself, whilst filming Gallipoli?
Harry Greenwood: The character I played, Bevan, was quite different to myself as he is quite head-strong and aggressive sometimes but with a real sense of purpose and strong ideas of what he believes in (not that I don't). Bevan is very head-strong and in terms of the war, he was very for the war and I'm very much a pacifist. It was quite interesting to put myself into the mindset of Bevan. It was illuminating about the human condition as I can understand these men had no idea of the rest of the world, they knew of the front guard and stories they'd been told about the rest of the world. I can understand the fear they had of the other and that was drummed into them as a means of getting them to face the front line. Certainty trying to get inside Bevan's headspace, was a challenge.
Question: What's next for you?
Harry Greenwood: I've just come back from overseas and I'm finding my feet in Sydney and I'm going for auditions hoping something will come through. I am doing a play that will be in Sydney and Melbourne, in the next couple of months.
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Harry Greenwood, Sam Parsonson, Tom Budge, James Callis, John Bach, Nicholas Hope, Anthony Hayes, Matt Nable, Leon Ford, Ashleigh Cummings, Anthony Phelan, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Justine Clarke, Travis Jeffery, Lincoln Lewis, Dion Williams, Gracie Gilbert, Yalin Ozucelik, Lachy Hulme, Grant Bowler, Damon Gameau
Running Time: 336 minutes
ANZAC troops head into battle on the beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. It is the start of an eight-month stalemate where thousands will lose their lives. Living in the trenches amongst dysentery, flies and mud, innocent 17 year old Tolly Johnson (who has lied about his age in order to enlist) fears that he and his brother Bevan will be killed when they are thrust into the brutal battles of Gallipoli.
Whilst the troops are in the trenches, the commander of the campaign General Sir Ian Hamilton, who is located far from the battle, optimistically clings to the belief that he can break the stalemate and take the peninsula. Meanwhile outspoken British journalist Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett becomes determined to alert the British Prime Minister to the catastrophe that is unfolding, despite military censorship, and finds an ally in Australian correspondent Keith Murdoch.
Coinciding with the centenary of Australia's most iconic battle, the eight hour series Gallipoli is the definitive dramatisation of the campaign that did so much to shape the Australian identity.
Audio Commentary (Episode 1) with Dr. Dayton McCarthy, Historical and Military Advisor
Interview by Brooke Hunter