While it might be expected that acclaimed and award-winning actor Johnny Carr would be used to the attention usually given to actors, his self-effacing and humble nature would suggest otherwise. Deservedly nominated for the NYC Web Fest Award as Best Actor for his performance in the series ‘The Greatest Love of All’, the Newcastle native brings a salt of the earth quality not only to his performances but also to any interaction, reminding our editorial team that Australian actors are, indeed, almost always likeable.
Carr, who’s featured in a raft of universally loved Australian series, plays and films, was buoyed by the success of the production which was also nominated for Most Outstanding Writing for a Web Series and won Best International Web Series. The latter prize was something that to this day is attributed to the starring performance of Carr, who in large part carries the heart of the series.
In the show, Carr effortlessly makes his own sense of comedy through sarcasm, connecting with the audience in the process in surprising ways. The value he places on the production runs through the screen, making clear that Carr is an actor who exceeds the expectations of the character he plays in unique and exceptional ways.
Most memorably, Carr showed how he has some of the best comedic chops in Australia, during a sequence when he is drugged at a house party by his housemates as a sort of emotional kaleidoscope, but he performs it with such precision that it’s a disturbing climax that veers towards the painful (for the viewer, not just the actor).
‘The Greatest Love of All’ was also selected for the Miami Web Fest, recognized for being a new kind of film festival for a new kind of filmmaker. The critical acclaim the series attracted is not unsurprising given the success Johnny went on to find in other productions like his memorable role in Channel Ten’s ‘Five Bedrooms’ or Channel Seven’s ‘The Secret Daughter,’ but is fascinating when considering ‘The Greatest Love of All’ was not originally conceived as the high-profile series it became, but a director’s humorous attempt to share a story about the aggressive level of hospitality that is present in Australian domestic life. And how their laid-back nature can often contain macabre undertones.
Even more fascinating? Carr’s versatility – later proved with award winning stage roles – that was foreshadowed in his proven capacity to adapt his emotional truth to the most dramatic or emotional scenes and situations, moving the viewer in an empathic way despite the series being a comedy.
As legendary theatre critic Suzy Wrong wrote in a review for theatre production The Real Thing, “In the role of Henry is the sensational Johnny Carr, bringing a startling truthfulness to dialogue that could very easily be turned, under the wrong hands, highfalutin and empty. The actor’s presence and timing have us captivated, as we find ourselves enraptured, deeply invested in the many meaningful discussions that provide the foundation for an admittedly bourgeois narrative.”
Other industry professionals share the same sentiment, explaining how Johnny has the power of making the viewer believe that nothing happens despite the scene clearly showing the world spilling around him, representing an incredible handling of his performance in front of a camera and his innate talents.
Were it not enough that Johnny is being featured in our pages today, he’s already attracted the attention of other journalists for many years in Australia who have followed his tremendous work and artistic edge for over a decade.
In an interview with ‘Arts Review Australia’ Carr was asked who inspires him and why. He responded “people who aren’t afraid to look foolish. The ice-breakers. They allow others to follow suit.” This simple but thought-provoking answer seems to echo his character choices. He appropriates it for the stories and brings it to life with ridiculous, funny, humorous and animated scenes.
Johnny’s other work reveals the soul of an artist. One that stands out is film ‘Happy Memories’, a production directed by John Tummino.
Here a huge duality appears in contrast to the comic performance mentioned above. Carr plays one of the leading roles, Michael. Together with the actress Laura Wheelwright, who appeared in the Oscar-nominated Animal Kingdom, Carr brings deep and affecting insight to a story about grief and loss in a farming community.
Johnny’s performance in ‘Happy Memories’, especially in contrast to ‘The Greatest Love of All’, proves his dexterity. His mysterious choices in sequences and moments lead any viewer to wait for glimpses of insight. Carr’s brilliance lies in his capacity to conceal his emotions but not block the audience from connecting with the story – true to the notion that humans and great actors try not to feel, but the average actor is concerned with feeling and how they are doing themselves.
It is such a demanding task to eemit far-reaching sensations and leave a memorable impression through a cryptic character, that Johnny described this challenge in the following terms.
“[I]t was a balance to play a character whose reality is in question throughout the piece. How to rapidly create that depth of family history whilst keeping the lightness of touch required to serve his buoyant energy,” Carr explains.
Carr, who is attached to a number of exciting projects shaping up for 2021, is excited to continue in showing the world his talents – not for self-promotional reasons, but because of a genuine passion for sharing insights.
“[I’m excited about] stories that search for meaning in the most mundane, absurd circumstances. We do this day to day. Otherwise what’s the point of it all? It’s simpler to find it in places of grandiosity. But what about the minutiae? It’s just as rich if we squint and consider.”