A couple of sinners for new-look All Saints. The West Australian. 19th June 2007. BY HELEN CROMPTON
Soap isn’t a dirty TV word for John Waters. But he reckons that when it comes to All Saints, it’s no pure-and-simple bed bath, more a crossover, an even mix between hospital drama and slightly soapy look at the love lives of the doctors and nurses who daily keep death at bay. Most days.
When Waters entered the show last year, playing Mike Vlasek, it was a case of stalwart meets veteran. All Saints, the long-distance runner for Australian series drama, had already reinvented itself by moving from Ward 17 to the emergency department, and thereby cranked up the drama. With that move came a major character reshuffle.
Exit the popular Georgie Parker and in came her shoot-from-the-hip replacement in Frank, played by John Howard, a character whose biggest challenge is cracking a smile.
And if he weren’t enough to break the medical mould, how about Mike Vlasek, complete with earring, rock’n’roll attitude and drug habit? It was a role, according to Waters, that gave him more freedom than he’s ever had in his entire career. That’s surely a credit to producers, considering the all-Aussie show has a conservative demographic and a strong female fan base who like their medical drama middling to spicy, as opposed to ultra hot.
Their gamble has paid off. Waters went from a three-month extended guest appearance to full-blown character — the one to watch, as the catch goes — because he’s got a haunted quality, an edge, a volatility and even a sprinkle of danger. And that’s when his character is off the morphine.
“Yeah, yeah, that’s right. I’m an alternative sort of doc,” Waters laughs down the line from Seven’s Melbourne studios where he’s having coffee. “To start with, the emergency department gives you more scope for instant drama and immediacy and then, of course, I came in with quite a different type of character, certainly not one of the conservative doctors that we are used to. And he’s a perfect foil for John’s character. Frank’s a grumpy bastard, isn’t he?” Waters says, in a sudden rush of being forthright. “Curmudgeonly, I’d call him.”
As Waters, known for his roles in Homicide, The Sullivans, Fireflies, The Man From Snowy River and Breaker Morant, describes the character he created with the show’s writers and producers, you can’t help but get the feeling there’s a good bit of real-life crossover.
Mike Vlasek has a touch of wild man about him. He plays AC/DC loudly in the operating theatre. He doesn’t like to be questioned. He goes his own way. “Yeah, there’s a lot of me in there, my involvement with rock and roll — minus the drug habit. But, yeah I’ve certainly flirted with substance abuse and there’s always a danger of addiction involved there and I know a lot of people like that.
“The thing with my character is that as he regulated his habit, he grew older with drugs but he simply didn’t mature. I think this is what happens to people: they do get very cut off.”
Waters is proud of what the show achieves. He reckons it captures the spirit of the industry. That is, you get a lot for a little. “If you look at two minutes of ER, the same type of TV as All Saints, you’re looking at the show’s entire annual budget.” Other medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, he says, only seem to pedal “who’s up whom”.
“All Saints has a good medical mix of proper medical stories which are very well researched and played out with as much authenticity as possible and a bit of what makes the doctors tick with the occasional romantic liaison.”
So the question is: will Mike ever have a chance with Zoe with Sean standing in his way? Answer: nothing is written in stone in the ED, so the reformed Doc may yet have a shot.
More fun sailing in dark Waters. Herald Sun. By Siobhan Duck. July 25, 2007 12:00am
JOHN Waters much prefers Judas to Jesus. The star of Channel 7's All Saints has made a career of playing flawed characters on stage and screen, including two of The Bible's bad boys -- Judas (in Godspell) and Pontius Pilate (Jesus Christ Superstar).
"Give me Judas any day, Jesus is too much of a goody-goody," Waters says and laughs.
"I have always preferred to play characters that are flawed, they are a lot more interesting."
No wonder then, that Waters found his latest role -- All Saints' Mike Vlasek -- so appealing.
Vlasek is a surgeon with a rock 'n' roll attitude to life. He likes young women, loud music and has an addiction to morphine.
Waters says he spent the day with a surgeon to better understand his new character.
"I wanted to shoot up heroin for six months, too," he says, laughing again.
"No, seriously, this is a great character to play.
"So many people think of junkies as people who trawl gutters and break into houses, but there are a lot of professionals out there with habits who are functioning."
Waters seems to be making his way around TV shows that involve emergency services.
In his past three TV roles he has played a doctor (on All Saints), a police detective (Young Lions) and a fireman (Fireflies).
"Yes, it seems that wrapping a stethoscope around my neck is having a better result," he says.
"I was beginning to think I was something of a Jonah because my last two shows got canned.
"In fairness, Fireflies (ABC) was just starting to work when it ended and even now when I tour country towns with my band, people ask what happened.
"Nine buried Young Lions in an obscure timeslot. It never had a chance."
But with All Saints -- this week celebrating its 400th episode -- Waters has found his feet and the perfect role.