> Skip to content

Q&A  •  4 August 2020

 

John Wood Q&A

One of Australia's best-loved actors looks back on his lifetime in the spotlight.

Looking back at your life so far, what surprises you?
That I ever even got into the industry let alone went as far as I did in it, and am still in it at the age of 74. I am still hoping to work on for a while yet.

Something you learned about yourself while writing this book?
That I actually had anything to say, and then found I had the patience to try and express it. How much I miss my parents being around. And then at how much I have left out.

Something you learned about yourself while onstage?
How much I liked being there and how at home I felt on the stage.

Most challenging role you ever played?
Probably Lambert La Roux in Pravda by Brenton and Hare. He was based on Press Baron Murdoch and exceptionally cold and awful. To find I had it within me was horrid. Steve in David Williamson’s final play Crunch Time was a bit of a stretch.

Most fulfilling role you ever played?
Hard to say. It's between Jock in The Club, Bottom in The Dream and Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. Steve in Crunch Time again was pretty terrific to do. It’s also my last work to date.

Best thing about being an actor?
Whatever you do, if you’re doing something you want it's wonderful. Being an actor can be wonderfully rewarding. Sometimes it even pays well.

Worst thing about being an actor?
You have to go where the work is, which can be devastatingly bad for family life.

Biggest challenge you overcame while writing this book?
Boredom. Really. I found my life pretty dull AND I’d already lived through it. But I learned patience, I think. I already had perseverance. You have to have it as an actor.

If life is a three-act production, at which stage do you see yourself now?
Well into act three, if not the epilogue, still trying to fathom what went wrong in the other two acts, and whether it was my fault.

What do you hope readers will take from How I Clawed My Way to the Middle?
Whatever they like. That there’s nothing extraordinary about me or my life and that there doesn’t need to be. I trust they will get some sense of the people that went before, both family and people in the business, and that they themselves are a product of what went before. I hope they get the odd laugh and I wish I could have been a raconteur in the mould of a David Niven. Actors are always asked about the funny things that happened but we can never remember. Until we get talking and then we absolutely fall about laughing. But don’t expect us to remember it tomorrow. 


How I Clawed My Way to the Middle John Wood

The long awaited autobiography of one of Australia's best loved actors.

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
Article
Let us tell you a story

Australian authors and personalities read some of our favourite picture books.

Article
Bluey books read aloud

Read along with Julia Gillard, Sam Thaiday, Jamila Rizvi and John Wood.

Article
Five tips for surviving year 12 exams

As year 12 students prepare for their exams, author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, has some simple tips that could help.

Article
Journalist’s haunting encounter at serial killer’s murder scene

When Garry Linnell stumbled across the grisly story of Frederick Deeming, he knew it was the one he wanted to tell.

Article
Dire prediction of ‘uninhabitable’ parts of Australia

Greg Mullins, former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, predicts parts of Australia will record 50C days in just decades to come.

Recipe
Spinach and ricotta lasagne

A fresh and delicious lasagne to enjoy regularly.

Article
'Utterly broken': The Resilience Project co-founder’s powerful admission

Hugh van Cuylenburg was being interviewed on a national radio station when he surprised himself with an admission.

Recipe
Sticky miso bananas with lime and toasted rice

This dessert ticks all our flavour boxes.

Recipe
Confit tandoori chickpeas

These chickpeas have had their fair share of Insta fame for a multitude of reasons.

Recipe
Vodka lemon drizzle pancakes with blackberry compote

There is, I have to confess, no need to put the vodka in the blackberry compote that accompanies these, but it does add to the sense of occasion.

Recipe
Vietnamese poached chicken salad with mint & coriander

What appeals to me about this salad is the combination of lightly poached chicken, bean sprouts, spring onions and herbs with roasted chopped nuts and sesame seeds, and the slightly gloopy fish sauce, lime juice and chilli dressing.

Article
Simple reading hacks for time-poor dads

Two authors — who are also dads — share their tips on how fathers can get a moment to themselves.

Looking for more Q&As?

See all Q&As