Dan Hamill: Interview with one of Australia’s favorites

As renewed COVID-19 restrictions have taken over Sydney amidst the delta variant, viewers have once again returned to their screens to find a welcome respite from the stress of it all. Viewing habits have of course turned towards revisiting the comfort of Australian favorites, which lead our editors to speak with one of Australia’s brightest stars, Dan Hamill.

Australian star and acclaimed actor, Dan Hamill.

Multi-talented entertainer and actor Daniel Hamill brought his versatile skill-set and experience to the renowned Australian drama television series, Love Child. That performance, along with his appearances as a finalist on Popstars and X-Factor, was one of many which solidified Dan’s place in the Australian screen and television industry, so our writers thought it was befitting – as the series experiences renewed popularity via streaming – to revisit Dan’s work and the continued evolution of his career. 

The acclaimed Australian star, who also worked as a series regular across 26 episodes of SheZow and is due to work on an exciting slew of projects in the US in the coming years, is humble and down to earth in person. It’s befitting therefore that he played his role on Love Child with a salt-of-the-earth sensibility that was simultaneously elevated by a distinctly 70s debonair quality.

Dan Hamill as Dr Andrew Patterson in Love Child.

Love Child follows the lives and staff of the Kings Cross Hospital and Stanton House in Sydney, based on the real-life forced adoption program in Australia.  The series beautifully captures the coercion and stigma of unmarried women in Australia and the plight of their children.  One of Australia’s most popular dramas, the show was loved for its “70’s style” and its gripping emotion, which Dan was able to realize with his flair and emotional depth. His contributions solidified the show’s continued high-ratings as he became a fan favorite, helping Australia’s Nine Network strengthen its position as Australia’s top network. 

“Being part of a hit show like Love Child was such an honour,” Hamill explains. “It was one of those dream roles that fit like a glove and felt like a real extension of self. The reason it was so popular was because it was about WOMEN-  95% of the cast! and that was a really important story to be a part of and told.”

Hamill continues.

“I loved playing Dr Andrew Patterson as he was such a forward thinking guy for the time, he broke the rules, and was in FULL support of empowerming women and rewriting/opposing the patriarchal and archaic mindset of men in that time. Looking back to when I was a kid, playing a leading man ‘heartthrob’ was such a far off dream. I had to pinch myself a few times saying to myself ‘hey buddy, how fun is this!”

Love Child notably received numerous prestigious accolades in the entertainment industry.  At the 2015 Logie Awards, an awards event which celebrates Australian television, the show was nominated for the Most Popular Drama Program Award, and in 2016, the show was nominated for both  the Best Drama Program and Most Outstanding Drama Series.  Love Child also received a nomination for the Best Drama Series Award at the Golden Nymph Awards, which are the prizes awarded to the winners of the Official Competition of the Monte-Carlo Television Festival, meaning Dan’s work has been enjoyed at the international scale and contributed to awards acclaim.

Hamill elaborates on the experience of what it meant for the show to be recognised internationally. 

“For Love Child to be nominated internationally was such a phenomenal nod to the show. We were all in disbelief initially when we heard about this. It’s a really heavy show- we talk about abortion, abandonment, women’s rights and injustice. It just goes to show that this is what the world needs right now.”

Love Child also featured Jessica Marais, Jonathan LaPaglia, and Matthew Le Nevez and was directed by Geoff Bennet, who won the AACTA Award for Best Direction in a Television Drama or Comedy. Hamill’s performance as the charismatic Dr. Andrew Patterson, a continuing fan favorite who impedes Dr. Joan Miller’s (Jessica Marais) efforts to continue her career after the birth of her child, represents the societal resistance towards unmarried women who had children in Australia during the twentieth century.  

Hamill joined the team in the show’s fourth season, but made an immediate impact as in the lead male role, claiming that although the loss of Jonathan La Paglia’s talent and role on the cast  left big shoes to fill , “the cast was so lovely and welcomed me with open arms, so it was good to be there.”

In one particular scene in the season’s fourth episode, Hamill’s character diagnoses Joan’s baby, Laura, with pneumonia, and does everything within his ability to assist the child but must simultaneously accept the reality that the child could die. Dan gives a showstopping performance by capturing the anxiety and panic of the moment, with fans and critics noting that the episode “drew out the best performances” from Dan. Hamill’s participation on the show made an immediate, demonstrable impact as IMDB indicates that ratings for each episode in the fourth season consistently exceeded 9/10, as opposed to the previous season’s episodes which largely received 8/10 ratings.

Hamill’s character also plays an essential role in the season finale, when he discovers the evidence that proves Joan’s baby was swapped with another mother’s, another cold reminder of the violations of familial bonds that occurred in Australia at the time.  

As Hamill explains, “the finale of the show was heavy. I mean in terms of dramatic tension, you can’t really beat a baby swap storyline right? Jess Marais and I had really built a beautiful emotional rapport and trust with each other and had learnt to really support each other in the heavy scenes.”

Acting, particularly in drama, requires a performer to deeply personalise and go deep into memories or imagined circumstances that trick your imagination and nervous system to believe these things are really happening in order to convey truth and emotionally affect audiences. 

Hamill elaborates on the dynamic with his scene partner. 

“Jess and I as buddies in this, sharing so many scenes together, created a really special space where we would drop into the depth of our emotional world to pay the script justice – you can’t fake that stuff. At the end of a scene or between takes that required deep grief or rage or even intimacy- we would give each other a little look that said ‘I got you mate’.” 

Hamill explains further. “That special bond you have with another actor that really goes there, as much as you do is so damn special and makes the whole process super, safe, beautiful and in an odd way healing.”

Dan Hamill and award-winning Australian star Jessica Marais were trusted scene partners.

Hamill also played an important role in the popular Australian television series Jack Irish alongside Guy Pearce. Here, Hamill appears as Wayne Dilthey, a member of the Way of the Cross Church who uncovers the nefarious actions of the church. His eventual murder later becomes the focal point of the show as Jack Irish (Guy Pearce) ends up getting framed for the crime. The show was one of the six most watched programs in all of Australia upon its release, recording nearly 1 million viewers, and Hamill’s popularity amongst television audiences undoubtedly contributed to this significant figure given the importance of his character. Critics praised the show and fans continue to stream it worldwide, and in the US, via Acorn TV. 

Hamill also appears in an important role in the acclaimed series Jack Irish, starring Iron Man star, Guy Pearce.

Hamill versatile skills as an entertainer in film and TV was also confirmed with his performance as a voice actor in the animated series SheZow. He performed in 26 episodes, showing his indispensability to the show as a talent. When watching the series, it’s clear that Hamill is an accomplished performer who can convey emotional depth and entertainment with just his voice, in addition to his skilled performances on television as a singer and actor.

Award-winning Australian icon Noni Hazelhursts says the following of Hamill:

“One of [Dan’s] great strengths as an actor is his “look” – he has the same ability that Heath Ledger did to play anything from a romantic lead to a hitman to a tramp. His looks are hard to define – he could be James Bond, he could be a filthy junkie – his casting potential is enormously wide.”

Award-winning Australian icon Noni Hazelhurst is one of Hamill’s biggest fans in the industry.

She elaborates further with reference to his transformational character abilities. 

“I can honestly say…[Dan] is one of the hungriest performers I know – constantly striving to stretch his knowledge, to challenge himself and to take risks in his choices. It’s starting to pay off, but his major contribution is yet to come. He could tackle any role. He is so talented and interesting.”

With the enduring popularity of some of his most popular roles, the ubiquity of streaming, and some exciting projects on the horizon, it’s safe to say Dan will continue to shine on screens all over the world.

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