Upon meeting actor Sam Delich over Zoom, his easy and charming demeanour is quickly apparent - going against any expectations that might follow someone who’s experiencing his current bountiful success.
We’re discussing his recent casting in a slew of US projects, as an example of how - even in the middle of a pandemic that’s impacted travel - American producers continue to look to foreign talent to elevate a production’s capacity at engaging with the empathy of its viewers. To our readers who have come to aIn appreciate the enduring appeal of Australian actors, it’s reinforcement of how people from down-under maintain an outward and balanced looking focus and interest, not swayed by the anxiety that takes hold of the rest of the world.
When canvassing Sam’s work and career, all of the above is apparent and more.
There’s a moment, for instance, in the acclaimed FX series Mr Inbetween where Sam Delich, in an instant, has to shift gears from being utterly transfixed by his love-interest (played by Rake’s Rachel Kim Cross) to being shaken at his core in surprise and confusion at the arrival of ‘Mr In Between’ himself, Ray, played by award-winning actor, Scott Ryan.
The emotional transition, and effortless believability with which it is executed, is a testament to the refined specificity of the Australian actor’s skill set, and represents an edginess rarely found amongst male actors his age. A wide selection of many other moments are found when watching Sam’s ongoing role in the series, where he plays the critical role of Yaniv, a petty criminal wishing to rise to the top of the criminal underworld, so along with his brother Hassam (played by Rahel Romahn known for Little Monsters opposite oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o) they organise a setup involving an arms deal. Ripping off Freddy(portrayed by “Once upon a time in hollywood’s” Damon Herriman) which sets the course for Ray to hunt them down.
“Sam has the ability to utterly transfix the viewer,” says Nils Larsen- CEO and head agent of Los Angeles based Management firm Integral Artists.
“It’s his unpredictability which keeps casting directors seeking him out. It’s why I signed him. It’s an ability few actors have, but many strive for.”
The crucial moment in Mr Inbetween, which comes at a key moment in the season, also encapsulates Delich’s emotional range, reminding viewers of an ability he’s never lost throughout his career despite all his accomplishments, and most important, how he’s never lost a sense of play. Indeed, this last point underscores the core point of entertainment which so many actors typically forget - that acting is a child’s game, and it’s more interesting to play pretend and be interested in people, than acting itself.
The latter is typically what leads to the lack of artistic leadership amongst actors, according to producers interviewed for this article, and how Sam represents the type of actor - nee, artist - who is a true asset, and a malleable one at that. Indeed, he represents something which can elevate a production, and also remind a director and producer that they too, are just playing make-believe.
His explanations of his attitude to acting are simple and direct.
“Do your job, do it well, and don't get caught up in the b.s. At the end of the day I rock up with my homework done and an open mind. I want to work alongside the director and my fellow cast to get the most dynamic work we can. The more freedom we feel on the day, the better the take. It’s not rocket science, it's controlled play. Have fun and be present.”
Sam’s dexterity as an actor was also clearly apparent in his work in the hilarious film project Profile, where he played the leading role alongside Playing for Keeps’ Cecelia Peters. The 2013 film, which also boasts James Sweeny (who starred opposite Jessica Mauboy in The Secret Daughter) and Rose Riley (from Cate Blanchett-produced Netflix drama Stateless) as cast members, showcased Sam’s willingness to put story above ego in a heartfelt and uniquely charming, and ultimately hilarious story about love in the big city. Throughout the film, Sam unashamedly dons a unique pair of frames, an obvious symbol of his character’s awkwardness which is subverted by Sam’s intelligent embodiment of a blokey Australian. This all, without him losing sense of his vulnerability.
No doubt Sam’s comedic chops were something which were useful in helping producers cast him in the upcoming comedy project shooting in the US.
“I just wrapped production on The Royal Flying Doctor Service where I was playing a meth addict so it is going to be a breath of fresh air. Definitely craving a little bit of comedy. I’m really excited to dive in. It's a cracking team of creatives and a role that I think will be a new challenge for me.”