William Prescott is used to making fun of himself. It’s become part of his trademark to take his work and acting seriously, but not himself too seriously.
“It’s a fine balance, and I think symptomatic of being an Australian comedic actor - I don’t think each culture necessarily lends itself to high-brow seriousness. Audiences like to know they can relate to you in some way, but that you’ve sacrificed your ego for the pursuit of the joke.”
William offers such astute observations in our chat about his new show, The Next Big Thing, co-starring award-winning actor Lee Beckhurst and directed by Dean Codrington from Bravada Films. The series runs as a mockumentary about how hopeless romantics and aspiring artists want to be the next big thing but are their own biggest obstacles.
The series follows a gentle boxer (Jeremy), an actor (Trent, played by Beckhurst) and a rock star (Jack). They have one month on a talent agent’s books to make it big or it’s all over.
In the show, William plays two characters - Jack and Jeremy. Each offered William the opportunity to show the extreme ends of his artistic sensibility.
William describes Jack and Jeremy as “two sides of the same coin”.
Jack is the arrogant rockstar with little to brag about, facing a serious crisis of confidence. While Jeremy is an aspiring heavyweight boxer who put simply - wouldn’t and couldn’t hurt a fly, but is full of blind self belief. The ease with which William switches between characters is a testament to the remarkably advanced nature of his comic timing and screen acting skills.
William Prescott in "The Next Big Thing"
“There is so much incredible comedy being made here in Australia. There’s a certain subtlety to Aus and UK comedy and we’re definitely inspired by the likes of Chris Lilley and Ricky Gervais. The question for us isn’t just “Will Australians like this?” but “Does the comedy we’ve created translate globally?” I think it comes down to heart, and this series has bundles of it.
So while Beckhurst and Prescott are proud to add the series to a list of other iconic Australian shows that occasionally do well with local audiences, they’re big believers in the quality of their show to resonate with viewers around the world.
“We feel like it could really strike a chord with US audiences like Chris Lilley’s Summer Heights High did.”
The Next Big Thing certainly boasts the pedigree to sell itself. Aside from starring Prescott who himself is familiar to worldwide audiences as loveable Connor Carmichael in the hit series, Glitch, Beckhurst recently appeared in Stan series Bloom alongside Oscar-nominee Jackie Weaver, and also stars Wentworth’s Sally-Anne Upton as agent Barbara.
In each appearance on-screen, William’s decidedly fresh manner in landing a joke but being incredibly grounded is evident in each moment. This is the case whether it’s a commercial campaign that’s exposed to millions of consumers around the world like McCain, or for when he embodies a character in a series.
The international prospects of The Next Big Thing have recently been boosted by William’s casting in a US project, the details of which have to be kept under wraps. Adding to that, William’s other projects have experienced a revival on the international festival circuit, with Tom Cruise Disorder being selected for an American film festival, and being invited to the prestigious Nottingham Film Festival.
In a true reflection of his down-to-earth nature, William’s only closing comments relate to pleading with our readers to watch the series so they can “check out the other cast members’ work - they’re excellent.”
Spoken like a true actor’s actor who is about the work and supporting his fellow cast, not just ‘a star’ out for himself.