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Interview: Xavier Samuel

We Chat With The Optus ONE80PROJECT Celebrity Guest...

With a swag of movie roles already under his belt including ‘September’, ‘Newcastle’, ‘The Loved Ones’, ‘Twilight: Eclipse’, ‘A Few Best Men’ and the hotly contested title of Hollywood’s newest ‘it’ boy, it’s hard to believe it’s only been three years since Xavier Samuel first got one of his big breaks appearing in the 2008 winning OPTUS ONE80PROJECT flick, ‘Dream Life’.

Now, fresh off the set of Australia’s first ever big budget 3D action flick ‘Bait’, Xavier once again returns to the Optus ONE80PROJECT as a celebrity guest to announce the Public Vote Award. We sit down the Adelaide born thesp to talk shooting mechanical sharks, what makes a good drama and how he gets his kicks…

MTV: Hey Xavier, welcome back! You’ve been involved with the Optus ONE80PROJECT for a few years now, first acting in the winning entry ‘Dream Life’ and then as a judge - what keeps drawing you back to the project!?

Xavier: I first got involved with the project through 2008’s ‘Dream Life’; it was this really cool insight into the underbelly of the north shore in this dark territory. It was so unique and original and fun, and I really started becoming aware of this project which is just an awesome initiative. There are so many talented filmmakers and this gives them an opportunity to have their talent recognized and gives them that springboard. There’s so few of those opportunities, especially in Australia, and I’m really happy to be here hanging out with these talented people.

MTV: What do you think are the ingredients of a successful TV drama?

Xavier: It’s so hard isn’t it, because you’re bound by nothing. I was at Tropfest a while ago and David Ngo, who won an award for his animation and gave a speech, and he said that any time he’s followed his heart and he’s done something that he really loved he’s been rewarded, and so I think that’s a good way to go in, thinking, if I get kicks out of this it’s probably the right thing. So it’s about following your instinct and going hey I like it, I have faith that other people will and that’s a good starting point.

MTV: If you ever got to the point where you weren’t getting kicks out of your career, what would you like to do?

Xavier: Well I think the reason I’m an actor is telling stories and being involved in that campfire however big it is, so for me as long as I’m part of that community I’m not too fussed. I really enjoy acting and I'm passionate about it, being challenged and doing different things is really… fun!

MTV: You’ve done quite a lot of drama, what other genre would you like to delve into?

Xavier: Well I was really lucky to have just worked with Stephen Elliot, so as soon as I finished ‘Bait’ (filmed in the Gold Coast) I stepped onto this film called ‘A Few Best Men’ which is a comedy about a wedding gone wrong. I play the groom who meets an Australian girl and takes his friends to Australia for the wedding and it’s a little trickier than expected. But the main challenge with that was keeping a straight face because everyone I worked with was really funny. I had a great time.

MTV: Do you find comedy harder than drama?

Xavier: I mean it’s a real skill, and it’s great to watch these other guys work ‘cause it’s kind of like a science you know, they’re really naturally talented. I was playing the straight man, everything happens around him and he has to deal with the comedy of it all. And there’s a film called ‘Anonymous’ which I did in Berlin, and that’s about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. I had long flowing hair and rode around on a horse, so it’s kind of cool to go from playing a vampire to an Elizabethan aristocrat to pointing a shotgun at a mechanical shark to getting married! I feel really fortunate that I’ve had all these different projects come my way.

MTV: Were you ever worried about just being known as the guy who was in ‘Twilight’?

Xavier: That never crossed my mind. I just felt really lucky to be cast in a role that wasn’t your average villain. There was a bit of complexity to this guy, but I never really felt like, I’m going to be playing vampires for the rest of my life!

MTV: Did you feel the pressure acting out such a beloved book and series?

Xavier: Well I felt great about it because when I flicked through the book I was like, where’s Riley?! (laughs) There was like one line, literally one sentence!! I was fortunate in the sense that they decided to depart from Bella’s point of view for the first time - it’s still faithful to the book but it extrapolates other dimensions in it. So there is a kind of degree of expectation and pressure to remain true to a character that is so close to so many people’s hearts. So the pressure’s on, certainly for the characters that have more of a journey. But I think they’ve done an amazing job bringing the books to life.

MTV: Is there any talk about developing Stephanie Myer’s fifth book ‘The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner’? Because you’d obviously be a big part of that…

Xavier: Well I haven’t heard any whispers, but it’s a really cool back story. I remember reading it, David Slade [director of ‘Twilight: Eclipse’] gave me the manuscript of this book, and it really sang to me, and for me it was a great source of information as well as being a great story.

MTV: What’s your definition of success?

Xavier: I think it’s about doing what you love. Bob Dylan’s got this great quote that goes, a man is a success if he wakes up in the morning goes to bed at night and in between does exactly what he wants to do. I reckon that’s a pretty good way to look at it.

To find out more about the OPTUS ONE80PROJECT and to watch the winning entry, click HERE