Award-winning Australian actors Blanchett and Hugh Jackman have each been quoted on a number of occasions that their success on screen, and their award-winning performances, are attributable to their early careers in the theatre. And while it’d behove many young actors to follow their advice, it’s rare in today’s age to meet a successful TV or film actor who develops a career on stage like the generations of actors before them in an era of TikTok and Instagram.
Award-winning Australian actor Alec Ebert therefore falls into a rare category. After starting out a career in sales, Ebert burst onto the Australian theatre scene in 2016 with an acclaimed performances Charlie Fox in David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow. It’s this past history which has formed a solid bedrock onto which his film and TV career has been built which, in the word of those industry professionals interviewed for this profile, will allow it to continue for decades to come.
As well-known actor Chris Thornton attests, “…few can rival the skills and ability Alec Ebert possesses. I would rank Mr. Ebert as one of the very best performing artists internationally.”
Alec’s work in the film The Expert is in many ways a synthesis of his work in the theatre. In the intense thriller, Ebert plays Derek, an introverted, socially awkward man who fetishises one of his work colleagues. The story concerns the presumptions we make of others, social isolation, and a thriller-style twist, while dragging the audience into the dark inner life of Derek. When watching the film, it’s clear how it called on Alec to tap into a range of intensity reminiscent of Marlon Brando.
In one moment, Alec, as Derek, portrays the intensity and inner life of his character through wordless expression, raising a scarf stolen from his crush in his mouth in a creepily sensual way, leaving no allusions as to how we as the audience feel about this guy.
It probably also helps that The Expert’s director, Rachel Soland, has also worked on Hulu thriller series Into The Dark, from legendary ‘horror’ production company Blumhouse (helmed by Oscar-nominated producer Jason Blum). That company, helmed by Oscar-nominated film producer Jason Blum, is behind such mega horror successes like Insidious, The Invisible Man (Elisabeth Moss), Paranormal Activity and Happy Deathday. Such esteemed associations evident when examining Ebert’s career reinforce how the creme da la creme of the industry always ends up working with one another, and that he himself belongs in an elusive category of artists who – while ironically commercially and financially successful – are first and foremost focused on story and craft.
Good art leads to commerce, as they say. Not the other way around.
When asked what theatre has taught him, and how it has undoubtedly informed his success which can be seen in film Vulture, and David-Lynch-like online series After Nightfall, Alec is simple and direct.
“The theatre taught me that no performance is too big if the inner life of the character’s experience is truthful. This is as true for the camera as it is for the stage.’
In many ways it’s not a shock to learn of Alec’s success, as it’s to be expected that someone with such an ardent appreciation of art, as he shows, would want to have explored every facet of performance on his way to moving through the ranks to be among the top of the acting field in Australia.
“Child-like curiosity is in all of us, sometimes just below the surface, sometimes buried deep. As we grow older, we forget it, we ‘grow up,’ but it’s still there. I really believe that the secret to true maturity is finding your curiosity – learning to be a child again. I learned this from my late grandfather and it is how I found acting.”
Alec’s upcoming starring performances in US projects from filmmakers like Tim McNeil and Eric Thompson are a testament to how the international film industry seeks out exceptional talent, no matter where they are in the world. The engagements in these projects were arranged by his Amercian sponsor, underscoring how vital a role he will play at the companies in the future, given the high-anticipation the industry places on the productions as it seeks to recover from COVID-19.
Ebert, who was originally born in Melbourne, Australia to parents of Sri Lankan and Australian heritage, is humble when asked about his current success, even when we point to the the recent acclaim The Expert attracted at the Los Angeles Thriller Film Festival or the Minnesota Terror Film Festival, and his acknowledgment by the Short + Sweet Festival for Best Actor, where none other than Miranda Otto and Peter O’Brien were in attendance.
Alec’s appearance in DNA: The Petersons is an additional reflection of the wide range of his craft as proven in a number of leading roles in production of significant merit. In that film, Ebert worked with Nelson Cruz.
“Acting will never be about Instagram or networking or accolades. These are incidental. It’s all the work you do in the quiet of the night that will define you. It is hard and it is rewarding. The true joy of acting is in the process – to honour the truth of a story – not the honours that come from a job well done. Having said that, it’s always nice to indulge in a little recognition every now and again!”