Former stunt-man becomes Westside actor
Glen Levy was a familiar figure on Outrageous Fortune but you may not have seen his face. Working as a stuntman on the series meant it was only the back of his head that appeared on screen.
But all that is changing with the prequel series Westside in which Levy turns his hand – and face – to acting. "I've gone from being a strange cousin to being a trusted brother," Levy says of returning to the Outrageous world which has retained much of its crew. "I was a stuntman for 15, 16 years before I really broke into acting. Having been in the industry for a long time, I know most of the crew so it's like a little family. It is nice to be in the same family but in a different role."
Levy plays Darijo Doslic on Westside, a family name most Outrageous Fortune fans will know. The rivalry between the Dalmatian family and the West clan flared up several times throughout the original series, thanks to Draska Doslic and Van West's on-again off-again relationship. As a fan of the show, Levy says he was interested to find the origins of the family enmity. "It was really cool to play one of the Doslics just 'cause they are such a strong part of the Outrageous world," Levy says. "I was really happy to get the role of kind of their version of Grandpa.
Without giving too much away, it starts as more of a friendship and that's why it goes so dark. "My character decides to make some very bad decisions and it causes a rift between the Wests and the Doslics that seems to have lasted generations."
For an actor who never had any formal training, Levy had quite a challenge on his hands in learning and perfecting a believable Croatian accent. "It was odd because there wasn't a lot of information out there about the Croatian accent, especially from the 70s," he says. "So I researched on YouTube for people from Croatia, looking at videos and footage from when it was called Yugoslavia, before it actually broke apart. I just started listening to them and trying to pick all the nuances to start to copy. It took about two weeks of research before I felt happy enough that I didn't sound like a dodgy Russian."
Playing Darijo Doslic is certainly less physically taxing than Levy's previous work, which included performing stunts on the series Spartacus and Top Of The Lake as well as the films The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King and Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans.
While the transition from stuntwork to acting might seem a tricky one, Levy says it was a conversation he had with friend and comedian Millen Baird which landed him his first role – playing a fictionalised version of himself on the comedy series Auckland Daze. "I was talking with Millen Baird and I was basically complaining about some of the downsides of being a stuntman where it starts to become a bit of a slog and none of the, not so much glory, but none of the props come back at you," Levy says. "It was weird being the back of an action hero's head for so many years and just being overlooked, so at the end of that job they go on to something else and we were left behind. I was doing it in a jokey, funny way as I do and Millen kind of went, 'We need to film this,' and that kind of was the beginning of Auckland Daze. We all started playing the bitchiest parts of ourselves, dialled all the way up to 11."
Thanks to his role on Auckland Daze, Levy is now exploring his passion for acting, not only in Westside but also in the comedy Find Me A Maori Bride (Maori TV, Fridays) and another series with Millen Baird called Darryl. "I just thought it would be a fun thing to do and just jumped straight in and it's been more of a trial by fire," Levy says of his new career. "It's that sink or swim thing and I haven't drowned just yet so fingers crossed these water wings will hold out for another couple of jobs."
In the meantime, Levy has been able to combine his two loves – stuntwork and acting – on Westside thanks to a scene where he joins safe-cracker Ted and his gang on a job. "There's a bit of a heist scene and I really enjoyed that," he says. "I'm kind of the outsider that they've brought in because I'm a specialist for a certain part of the job and it goes awry. Do keep an eye out; there will be some stunt expertise thrown around. You see the back and front of my head this time. It's nice."
Westside, TV 3, Sunday
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- TV Guide