It’s been almost two decades since film and TV star Stephen Curry has done a theatre show. But when Curry commits to something, he really commits, and he marks his return to the stage by playing Michel, a character in every single scene of Florian Zeller’s ‘beautiful, intense, hilarious, technically perfect play’. Despite being named The Truth, it’s a play about lying. But here, Curry reveals the truth about acting, Melbourne and himself.
The truth about … acting
What’s the most common misconception about working as an actor, especially on stage?
That you would come across a whole bunch of really prissy prima donnas. They exist, just like they exist anywhere in the world. But on the whole you find yourself surrounded by some pretty incredible, lovely, and generous people.
What’s the weirdest audience moment that you’ve encountered to date?
I did a show with Shaun Micallef called Good Evening, which was the sketches of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. I’m not on Twitter. But he’s on Twitter, and he said I should go to Twitter to check out the reviews, because the word-of-mouth Twitter reviews were really, really good. So I made the mistake of going to Twitter and checking out these reviews.
The first one was great; the second one was even better; the third one was amazing; the fourth one’s incredible, and the fifth one was even more incredible. And the sixth one was AWFUL. Just awful. Like, the most awful things about this person’s experience of being stuck in the theatre, having to watch me – not just how bad I am but to the point where I’ve ruined everything I’ve ever been in, and this was no exception. I think the words ‘shameless mugging’ came up, which to be honest is actually fair at times when I’m doing comedy. I don’t mind mugging. One of my heroes, Graham Kennedy, was a big mugger, and I’ve been a culprit.
Anyway, the next night I had it in my head that that person might have come back just to see how bad I could get. Of course they wouldn’t, but I just couldn’t get it out of my head and I looked out one moment, when Shaun was doing one of his bits, and I saw one dude in the crowd with his arms crossed, looking thoroughly disappointed. And I thought that was the guy. It was horrible. I’m not a neurotic, needy person but I shouldn’t have read that thing.
What’s the best audience moment that you’ve experienced?
It was on that same show. We had a matinee in which everything that could have gone wrong technically went wrong: the lights at one stage went out, the mics went out, everything went out. It was at the Comedy Theatre, which is a large theatre; you need your mics. Anyway it was quite a small audience, as often the matinee audiences are, and they got behind us so beautifully and we ended up just breaking the whole show down, breaking it into pieces in a way you can’t do with proper theatre. And the audience just got on board. We even got an audience member up on stage at one point to help us do one of the sketches that we’d forgotten the lines of. And we got a standing ovation at the end of what should have been the worst show ever, which instead became one of the most joyous experiences.
What’s the best thing about working in this industry?
I guess, apart from the people that I mentioned before, it’s a joyous way to go to work. It’s hard to get the work, that’s well documented, but when you are working it doesn’t feel like a chore. Personally, I spring out of bed and I’m forever thankful to be able to do a job that’s actually my hobby. That’s another thing about the people too – you know that, on the whole, most people you work with in this industry feel the same way: they do it because they love it.
The truth about … Melbourne
What’s the most common misconception the rest of the country/world has about Melbourne?
That we all drink coffee. I don’t. I think it’s a disgrace that just because I was born and raised in Melbourne, people think that I must drink coffee, or I’d know where to get the best coffee. I just send them to 711. Apparently they’re only $1. And apparently they’re all right.
About once a year, maybe, I think ‘I’m a grown up, my palate might have matured and I might be able to appreciate what these people are talking about.’ And I give it a little sip, just a tiny little taste and nup. It tastes exactly like it did the last time. I don’t understand any drink that needs to be masked with something else. I know not everyone drinks it was sugar but most people have a sugar in it to make it taste less like coffee. God, the coffee drinkers of the world are going to revolt when they read this. There’s going to be a coup.
What are the best and worst things about Melbourne?
The best thing about Melbourne is that it’s home. I don’t think there’s any better city in the world because I’m horribly biased, but it just warms my heart to come home; it’s like an old jumper. Other cities that I’ve been to, they’re always fascinating and amazing and incredible. but they’re not home.
That’s the best thing about Melbourne. The worst thing? I don’t know. Oh, there’s a pothole on Inkerman Street, between Kalymna and Wilgah. And if you hit it on your bike, it gives you a bit of a jolt.
Finish this sentence: Melbourne is a city of…
Melbourne is a city of hidden gems, and a whole bunch of people who don’t quite know how to get to them … unless they’re from Sydney.
The truth about … Stephen Curry
What’s the biggest misconception the public has about you?
I don’t know if it’s a common misconception, but recently my 16-year-old niece came up to me and said ‘Steve, my friend Googled you and she tells me you’re worth $350 million.’ I said: ‘Think about it for a second. There’s an American basketball player with the same name. Do you think maybe they might have Googled him?’ And she said: ‘I guess so. So, you’re not worth $350 million?’ No Ella, I’m not.
Another one is that I’m older than my brothers. That’s a common misconception, and I’d like to set the record straight: I am the youngest of five. But I happen to be the greyest. They’ve all got lovely originally coloured hair, and mine has gone grey – I’m the greyby – and as such I’m mistaken for the oldest brother. People often say to me ‘I saw your little brother the other night on Wentworth.’ No you didn’t; I don’t have a little brother.
I’m also the shortest so I don’t have a little brother in any way. My sister is shorter so she’s my little sister I guess, but she’s the oldest of all of us.
What was your most formative or memorable acting experience?
My first moment on a stage was pretty formative. I was nine. I had one word in a show called Man of Steel. It was a Superman show, and my brother Andrew was Superman. And I was Happy Villager Number Three or something, and I said my word – which was ‘fantabulous’, which isn’t even a word – and my mum laughed. Even though she knew where it was in the script, and I hadn’t projected it so no one else heard it, it was a moment that made me think: ‘Yeah, this is a bit of alright.’ As twee as it sounds, that was the moment. The lights, and the smell of the makeup, and my mum laughing at my line. It was like: this is the best feeling I’ve ever had. And all the girls were really pretty. And I got the day off school.
It was in a theatre group called Track Youth Theatre (the children’s arm of Toorak Players), run by this lovely fella called Ed Bailey. He’s the most generous man I’ve ever met, very nurturing and kind, and he taught me a love a theatre and performance. He taught me why you never have your back to the audience, and why you should project – which obviously I didn’t listen to that first time.
It was before I even knew that acting was a thing that people do for a job. My dad was an accountant, my mum was a midwife so that’s what I understood jobs were. Years later when I realised you could get money from doing this really fun thing, I was like ‘hmmmmmmm.’ My parents told me make sure I had something to fall back on. So I got film and television work to fall back on. They didn’t mean that. So I got voiceover work. Again, not what they meant. So as a result, I literally have no qualifications at all, or skills or interests outside of this industry. It’s pretty tragic.
What is the best lie you’ve ever told?
The joyful thing about being in primary school in the 80s was that there was no internet, and no one could fact check. So I went around telling as many people as I could possibly get away with that Lisa Curry was my sister. I don’t know how many people believed me, but I wielded that one pretty solidly and I committed to it. I would have been in grade one, and my sister won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Published on 7 June 2021