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Thespian Profile: Daniel Berini

Actor Daniel Berini shot by Marnya Rothe

Cate Blanchett and Hugh Jackman have each been quoted on a number of occasions that their success on screen, and their award-winning performances, are attributable to their early careers in the theatre. And while it’d behove many young actors to follow their advice, it’s rare in today’s age to meet a successful TV or film actor who treads the boards much like Blanchett and Jackman, particularly with the current rise of Instagram and YouTube stars.

This week’s feature about acting and craft is on Australian actor Daniel Berini, a remarkable thespian originally from Perth who has come to show no signs of slowing down.

Daniel Berini represents something of an anomaly in today’s industry, as this young actor – who started out in the Australian theatre scene in 2012 with his acclaimed performance in a Perth production of The Laramie Project – proved his worth on the stage prior to his current success on screen, silver and small.

“Majority of the greatest actors in film and television history began their careers in the theatre. The theatre is where acting all started, right? Working in the theatre has taught me a type of discipline that can’t be found or learnt on a film set.”

Daniel, who received acclaim for his role as Berger, the leader of the Tribeca, in a stage production of renowned musical Hair, is adept at explaining in detail the benefits of acting in theater.

“By working on the same show every night you are forced to improvise and learn how to keep the story fresh; to be able to continually engage and surprise both the audience and your fellow performers. Every night you are faced with a new set of challenges to overcome, unforeseeable until they’ve already occured. It can be incredibly difficult and stressful but it is also what makes theatre so exciting and unlike any other art form.”

When asked about what theatre has taught him, and how it has undoubtedly informed his success that can be seen in feature film Promised, series Elling & Izzy and other shows like Love Child and The Secret Daughter, Daniel is quick to keep bringing back his observations to the craft.

“The theatre has taught me the importance of being able to adapt and respond in the moment, a skill I’ve found essential when working on fast moving film sets. In film and TV you can often find yourself with limited opportunity to execute a scene, meaning emotional and intellectual presence is essential. I really believe that my training in the theatre is the foundation to the discipline I uphold in my film and television work. It allows me the freedom to explore when in the crucial moment of a scene.”

In many ways it’s not a shock to learn of Daniel’s success, as it’s to be expected that someone with such an ardent appreciation of art, as he shows, would want to have explored every facet of performance on his way to moving through the ranks to be among the top of the acting field in Australia.

“I’ve always been inspired by actors who have the seemingly fluid ability to traverse various performing platforms. Take someone like Hugh Jackman for example. To be able to entertain an audience so brilliantly on stage, in both dramatic and musical theatre forms, and then thrive on the screen too is no small feat. It’s just awesome what he can do, and I have no doubt that his theatre work informs his screen work, and vice versa.”

Daniel’s ability to speak articulately about other performers is as much a lesson in history as it is in acting, as he also offers great tidbits about those who cross between the comedy and acting fields.

“It’ surprise to me that some of the greatest contemporary actors seem to have come from a stand-up comedy background. I am personally terrified at the thought of performing a stand-up set, but one can only imagine how disciplined you would have to be in order to thrive in that form. You would have to be able to read an audience so well, adapt to changes in energy so quickly, and be able to plough on even if a joke hasn’t landed or something goes wrong. This kind of self-awareness and self-control can only be learned in a theatre setting, whereas if you stuff up on a film set, you usually have the luxury of getting to do it again!”

Daniel’s recent starring performances in the TV shows Love Child and The Secret Daughter are in many ways a culmination of his earlier work on stage. As Cate Blanchett exclaimed when winning her Oscar for Blue Jasmine in 2014, her work in that film represented a synthesis of her time in the theatre, and Daniel’s compelling work in the Channel Nine and Channel Seven hit shows reveal similar signs of a revered sense of acting.

Adding to his repertoire is Daniel’s experience in musical theatre which, as Hugh Jackman himself has suggested on many occasions, has granted Daniel a reflexivity and adaptability on any set to keep filming past a 12-hour day.

“The real magic happens when hard work and preparation meet the present, and I believe that my theatre training has given me a certain focus in my craft that allows me to ‘keep up’ and embrace the moment as openly and honestly as I possibly can. Sometimes you are stuck filming a scene for hours on end, and it’s in these moments that this training really kicks in. It has sort of freed me up, and I feel as though I have both the energy and the aptitude to keep a scene fresh.”

Daniel’s relaxed work in Love Child particularly showcased this remarkable skill.

“Love Child is one of Australia’s most-loved television shows, and joining the final season was a real privilege.”

“[My character] of Clive plays an important role in Season 4 as he exemplifies a ‘new generation of husbands’, willing and wanting to be involved in the more typically maternal duties.”

Daniel’s work is one of many examples from his career that shows why he’s now in demand by the US market. We’re quick to ask about his role in an upcoming feature film shooting in the US, and his signing with LA-based management company Fictious.

“I can’t quite give details just yet, but I’m very excited about this project.”

For this versatile performer, it’s a deserving reward for hard work done, and a sign for what’s to come.

“As much as I love the theatre, my true love has always been film and TV. Nothing excites me more than the buzz of a set. There’s just something so awesome about being a part of a group of people that are all just working their hardest to make the best thing that they can. It’s electric, and I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything. I only want more and more.”

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