Award-winning actor Frederick Du Rietz brought his talents to the acclaimed Australian television series, “Amazing Grace.” Despite his past success, he was a bit nervous prior to filming.
“There’s always a shred of doubt that clouds you from time to time. I guess it’s just about letting yourself see the character you want to play, and if the director believes in what you are doing then that’s all the validation I need,” Du Rietz explains.
Notwithstanding his doubts, Du Rietz’s performance has been incredibly well-regarded and reinforced his status in the film and television industry as one of Australia’s brightest young stars.
Du Rietz plays the role of Jeremy, the supposed father of Sophia’s baby. At the age of 18, Jeremy is thrown into the reality of looking after a baby with his best friend. The show follows a midwife, Grace (Kate Jenkinson), and her enthusiastic colleagues at a birth control center attached to a major city hospital. Unlike other Australian dramas set in hospitals, “Amazing Grace” focuses on the midwives rather than the doctors. Frederick joins the fold as Jeremy, seeking to raise Grace’s granddaughter (you read that right) after her teenage daughter surprisingly falls pregnant - and turns up after Grace had given her up for adoption 18 years earlier. The controversy of the storyline was something into which Frederick could sink his teeth.
“It was a very fun thing to explore. I wanted the character to stand out in his own way. I figured a young kid from Goulburn would certainly not have the same humor or wittiness of the other characters in the show. I thought it was a fun contrast to make.”
“Amazing Grace” airs on Australia’s Nine Network, one of the five main free-to-air networks in the country and boasts the highest ratings out of the five networks. Du Rietz’s character, Jeremy, serves as an important foil to this idea of adoption, as he seeks to raise Sophia’s child together with her even though she wants to put the child up for adoption.
Since making its debut in March earlier this year, “Amazing Grace” has won a devoted legion of fans, many of whom have cited Du Rietz’s work as a reason for their enjoyment of the show. Notable members include the renowned writers Jonathan Gavin and Ainslie Clouston, who wrote the successful shows “Offspring” and “Playing for Keeps.”
The team also includes executive producer Sarah Smith, who was integral to the production of the prestigious Australian television show “Love Child.” The fact that Du Rietz has worked alongside these talents to create such a successful show demonstrates his own acting prowess.
“I was very grateful to the whole team working on this show. They were very accommodating, supportive and inspiring. It’s always encouraging to see such professionalism when on set. It makes you want to work harder to meet their expectations.”
The impressive standing of the team however was nothing new to Frederick, who also starred alongside a raft of named Australian talent on other projects like the acclaimed Netflix Series “Secret City” and the award-winning feature film “Bilched.”
“I’ve been very lucky to have worked with incredibly talented and professional people in my past jobs. ‘Amazing Grace’ was no exception.’
The cast of “Amazing Grace” likewise boasts several impressive names, including Kate Jenkinson, who starred on “Wentworth” and “Doctor Doctor”, Sigrid Thornton, who appeared on “Prisoner” and “Seachange,” and Alex Dimitriades, who starred in “Heartbreak High” and “Blue Murder.” Du Rietz plays a recurring role as the character Jeremy, a teenage boy revealed to be the father of Eady, Sophia’s baby. His arrival on the scene shocked Sophia (Alexandra Jensen) and Grace, and made a strong impression on viewers.
When watching the show, it’s clear Du Rietz does an impressive job conveying the subtle tension in this scene with his subtly crafted awkwardness that plays into the comedy of the scene extremely well. He also plays a major role in that he resists Sophia’s plan to put Eady up for adoption, suggesting that they raise the child together. When Sophia turns down his plan, he goes behind her back and gives in to his parents' wishes of showing them the baby whom they think is Jeremy’s.
This eventually causes an intense confrontation between Sophia and Jeremy, which Frederick again portrays extremely well as he maintains the central features of his character and eventually progresses to the point where Jeremy demands custody of Eady.
Du Rietz explains, “It’s always a learning experience to work with highly talented people like Kate and Alexandra. When playing out the scene, you always come in with your ideas that you have developed either in rehearsal or sort of in your own time. There’s never a time when I’m not actively thinking about better, more fleshed out ways to see the scene as my character.”
Later on, Sophia and Jeremy visit the adoption counseling center together, and although Sophia pushes to have Eady adopted, the counselor sees through her plan and offers to have a session alone with Jeremy. Here, Frederick expertly displays Jeremy’s insistence on raising Eady, and even though his parents eventually reveal that Jeremy was not actually the father of the child, he stays true to his goal and maintains that he genuinely did want to raise her.
The complex network of relationships between Jeremy, Sophia, Sophia’s friends, and Jeremy’s family presented a difficult set of plot points to juggle, but Frederick’s range of emotions and intense embodiment of Jeremy perfectly exhibits the complexity of his character’s “ability to effortlessly hold a frame and lure viewers in.”
“I had to find Jeremy’s place between his maturity of thinking he was ready to be a father and trying to start a family with his best friend Sophia, to the shyness of the character of not being able to tell her how he feels. There were so many hidden layers to Jeremy. He is a very internal character who is influenced by the people around him.”
Du Rietz explains further, regarding character preparation, “Preparing for the role was very interesting and at times difficult to maneuver. When I got to the set and started rehearsing with the rest of the cast, it all felt effortless and natural.”
Du Rietz’s memorable presence and acting talents have allowed the show to rise to its current level of popularity, as the eight episodes of the show have already garnered hundreds of thousands of views each. In terms of ratings, IMDb has the show listed at an impressive 7.1/10, which further highlights the commercial success of “Amazing Grace” amongst its audience.
When he was in “Amazing Grace,” Du Rietz had already established an impressive career for himself. Early on, he won the Hugo Weaving Award for his stage performance of the Tribulations of Abacus Christy, written by Brett Heath.
He explains, “Winning the Hugo Weaving Award meant a lot to me. It was the first time I realised that I could make a career out of acting.”
Named for the famous Australian actor who starred in many International blockbusters including “The Matrix” and “Captain America,” the award signifies a memorable accomplishment of which Frederick’s agents expressed great enthusiasm– Frederick himself however, remained very humble.
Frederick would then go on to be nominated for an AACTA (Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts) Award under the category of Best Male New Talent, for his work on the TV Series “Secret City: Under the Eagle.” Frederick was cast alongside Anna Torv (“Mind Hunter,” “Fringe”) and Danielle Cormack (“Wentworth,” “Rake”). The series was directed by Tony Krawitz (“The Kettering Incident,” “All Saints”) and Daniel Nettheim (“The Hunter,” “Tidelands”). The show originally aired on Foxtel and Fox Showcase in Australia, with an international release on Netflix.
He says, “Being nominated for an AACTA award was a huge deal to me. I felt validated for my work, and very excited to be nominated alongside the biggest names in the industry. Working in ‘Secret City’ has been an amazing experience for my growth as an actor and I was very happy to hear the show got other AACTA nominations too.”
Du Rietz has also starred in the feature film “Bilched,” directed by Jeremy Cumpston (“The Last Race,” “All Saints”). It was well-received by stars like Hugh Jackman, Simon Baker, and Ben Mendelsohn. In “Bilched,” Frederick worked alongside actor and writer Hal Cumpston (“Nine Perfect Strangers,” “The Walking Dead: World Beyond”), Jeremy Simms (“Last cab to Darwin,” “Beneath Hill 60”) and Rhys Muldoon (“Grassroots,” “Lockie Leonard”).
The film premiered at Chelsea Film Festival in New York City, which ranks #6 among the Top 10 Film Festivals of North America by USA Today. On closing night, Fred won the award of Best Supporting Actor, as well as the film winning Best Film and Best Screenplay. The judging panel included Oscar-winning writer Paul Haggis (“Crash,” “Million Dollar Baby”) and also includes Oscar winning writer John Patrick Shanley (“Moonstruck,” “The January Man”) among the Board of Directors.
He says, “I was honored to receive the award. It was such an authentic film to work on. Being part of the Chelsea Film Festival and winning Best Supporting Actor made my family as well as my acting agents and managers extremely proud.”
With his popularity and dedication to his craft, Frederick will undoubtedly continue the path of excellence in film and TV, although very much staying humble.
“I’m very excited to see what the future holds. I never really expect it to go one way or the other, just to keep working hard for it. At the end of the day, good work gets rewarded and that’s what I have always strived for.”