Australia’s George Zach: Playing the Obvious Villain and Those Not So Obvious

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The most successful art is that which is universal and international in its nature. That which needs no translation and has an appeal that transcends the local identity. The same can be true for the artists which present said art; when we see something of ourselves in them, we are more welcoming. This is an apt description of actor George Zach who seemingly always appears as the character but in a way that doesn’t seem foreign. It’s a benevolent part of this actor’s career which has spanned theatre to film, Australia to numerous other parts of the world. From his Logie nominated role as Michael in Loulla to the metaphysically mysterious priest in Six Steps to Eternal Death, Zach has always found a way to perfectly fit in. There’s an element from his early childhood which contributed to this template and blossomed into a highly successful career.

Australians know George Zach well from his appearance in the iconic 90’s comedy film Nirvana Street Murder. Zach starred with other well-known Aussie actors such as Golden Globe nominated actor Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Dark Knight Rises) and Mark Little depicted the culture clash of Greek immigrants and Australians in the country at the time. As a first generation son of Greek immigrants himself, George’s preparation for this role was literally a lifetime in the making. His own lineage has blended ideally with a number of productions in which he has been cast. These range from comedy to drama to…well, something altogether different. As someone who grew up with and rejected stereotypes, George was happy to take part in the SBS TV production English at Work. This ground breaking series dealt with issues relevant to people of non-English speaking backgrounds in work place environments. Presented in a dramatic documentary format, it afforded Zach the opportunity to portray an immensely diverse set of characters. He informs, “It was a really important and revealing program. Facets like the Australian sense of humor was explored. A joke in one person’s language can easily be an insult in another person’s culture. Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. The propensity to be misunderstand is enormous. I did enjoy this series. It reminded me of how difficult it must have been for my parents and other immigrants who faced challenges which I can only imagine.”

Completely contrasting this very real world type of subject matter; George appeared in Peter T Nathan’s (known for the award winning Australian TV series Shortland Street and Home and Away) Six Steps to Eternal Death. Selected an Official Selection of the Celtic Mystery Short Film Festival, nominated for Best Supernatural Film at the New Hope Film Festival, and a recipient of awards from the Bucharest Shortcut Cinefest and others, this highly stylized and does not lend itself to a logical interpretation. Zach appears as a priest in an Alternative Universe where a Mother is forced to accept she is dead and move on. The actor notes that the power priests held over parishioners in his youth gave him insight into the role.

Equally fantastic and much more menacing is Zach’s appearance as King Oleander in Michael Loder and Charles Terrier’s fantasy/war film A Little Resistance. Driven to madness over the death of his wife, King Oleander embarks on a campaign of obliteration that ultimately results in his own daughter taking up arms against him. The personification of evil in its extremist form, George relates that he found the experiences quite enjoyable. For the affable actor, the role seems to have been a catharsis. Actors often take the painful circumstances of others and live through them, coming out wiser in the end. For George Zach, there are infinite more experiences awaiting him and his admirers.

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