A Short Drive from Hades to All Saints
The Courier Mail – What’s On: June 10 1999
The acting world has been good to Erik Thomson, even if you include a stint on Pacific Drive. Lisa Yallamas reports.
Life has been unkind to All Saints’ Dr Mitch Stevens, who is played by Scottish-born actor Erik Thomson. Mitch is All Saints’ equivalent of E.R.’s Doug Ross (aka George Clooney). He is the fearless, talented, roguish doctor who flouts hospital rules for the good of a patient.
But Stevens is attracted to the leading lady Sister Terri Sullivan (Georgie Parker), a woman he knew intimately before he went to Africa with the United Nations and she became a nun.
The role of Mitch is a change for Thomson from playing Hades, Lord of the Underworld, in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules.
“Most actors in New Zealand have worked on Xena and Hercules,” he says. “It’s fantastic – you go to work, get dressed up in leather and make-up to shoot thunder bolts from your hands.
“Of course, it doesn’t solve the problems of the world. It’s pure escapism.”
In the past, the former Tauranga Boys’ High School head boy often was cast as a bad guy or sleazy character.
Thomson has now settled in Sydney after years of commuting between jobs in Australia and New Zealand.
While his credits include up-market television movies such as last year’s 13 Gantry Row with Rebecca Gibney and the title role in Shakespeare’s Hamlet on stage, he did stoop to do Pacific Drive on the Gold Coast years ago.
He sarcastically refers to Pacific Drive as “a unique moment in Australian television history” rather than trashy soap.
It turned out to be an important milestone in his career because All Saints producer Jo Porter (who started her career as an assistant on Pacific Drive) thought of him when the Mitch Stevens role came up.
Thomson, 32, was raised in the New Zealand town Tauranga, population 40 000, and situated 150km south-east of Auckland.
His retired obstetrician-gynaecologist father and mother, a nurse, still live there.
But he left home to study literature and drama at university in Wellington. Thomson was offered jobs in five plays before he graduated and he has never really been unemployed.
Maybe, his good fortune in life is related to him learning about compassion in childhood.
He was seven when the family moved from Scotland to New Zealand and the kids at school used to call him names such as Haggis, Jock or Hamish.
“People think about racism as being about skin colour but it’s not always,” Thomson says.
Five years later the Thomson family went back to Scotland for a year and because of his different accent he was called Maori.
“I couldn’t work it out anywhere,” he says. “I probably worked a little bit harder getting on with people.” And he went out of his way to welcome newcomers to the school so they did not feel completely like outsiders.
Finally, he has followed in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor – even if it is only onscreen. Recently, he was walking with his father in Tauranga when an 18-stone, bearded man of 23 said hello to his father.
“Dad delivered him,” Thomson says. “He was the first person to touch this guy when he was all of nine pounds or something.”
It is these kinds of experiences which Thomson says he draws on in All Saints. “We are always playing from that mortality point of view.”
[Article first appeared cyberwise on Tara’s Xenaverse. Reproduced with permission. Thank you Tara!
Hard copy of article courtesy of Seawave. Many thanks!
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