Colin Friels in Blind Company, 2009
Judy Davis (m. 1984)
Colin Friels (born 25 September 1952) is a Scottish-born Australian actor.
Background and training
Friels was born in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, Scotland. His mother was a mill worker and his father a joiner. He lived in Kilbirnie until 1963, when his family moved to Australia, arriving in Darwin, Northern Territory before settling in the Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh. He worked as a bricklayer's labourer before studying at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), and graduated in 1976 along with Linden Wilkinson and Michael Siberry.
Friels career began with work mostly in theatre and television. In 1980 Friels was a presenter on the long-running children's series Play School. His first film role was in the unreleased Prisoners (1981), starring with Tatum O'Neal. His first actual appearance in film was in Monkey Grip (1982), an adaptation of a novel by Helen Garner, where he starred alongside Noni Hazlehurst.
In 1986, he played the title role in Malcolm, about a shy mechanical genius, for which he was awarded the 1986 AFI Award for Best Actor. Friels was also nominated for the Best Actor award the following year, for his role in Ground Zero, but did not win: the film received mixed reviews, with one describing him as "a proficient enough actor, but...miscast". Friels later won another AFI Award in 1995 for his starring role in the 1994 Halifax f.p. telemovie Hard Corps. Friels has played a wide range of other roles. He was a megalomaniac corporate executive in the 1990 feature film Darkman.
From 1996 to 1999, he played Frank Holloway on Water Rats, a role which won him the Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actor at the 1997 awards. In his acceptance speech he said, "I'm very flattered for this and it's all rather silly, isn't it? So, thank you very much."
Since 2003, Friels has appeared as the main character in the BlackJack series of telemovies. In 2010 he also starred in Killing Time where he played notorious underworld figure Lewis Moran. In 2018 he played Tony Ballantyne in the TV miniseries Mystery Road.
Personal life and views
In late 1997, Friels was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. However, his treatment was successful, and he is one of the very few victims of this disease to go into long-term remission. During his treatment he even continued to work on the set of Water Rats, until eventually the impact of the chemotherapy stopped him working, and he chose to have his character written out of the series by sending him on a sailing journey around the world. At this time, however, he also continued his stage work, and was performing in Sydney Theatre Company's Macbeth.
Friels has been married to actress Judy Davis since 1984, and they have two children, Jack and Charlotte. They were briefly separated, but later reconciled. The relationship was briefly in the media when an argument led to a court order against Friels: however, they remained together at that time.
Friels believes that social and political awareness comes with acting, and is known for his engagement in policy debates, including industrial issues such as workplace relations and free trade. He publicly criticised Bush administration policy in the Middle East, and supported the Sydney Peace Foundation. His engagement with social issues has also been evident in his acting work, with two prominent examples being his lead role in Ground Zero, in which he played a cameraman investigating British nuclear testing in South Australia, and his appearance in the ABC television drama Bastard Boys, in which he played union official John Coombs.
- Hoodwink (1981) - Robert
- Monkey Grip (1982) – Javo
- Buddies (1983) – Mike
- For the Term of His Natural Life (1983) - Rufus Dawes/Richard Devine
- The Coolangatta Gold (1984) – Adam Lucas
- Kangaroo (1986) – Richard Somers
- Malcolm (1986) – Malcolm Hughes
- Ground Zero (1987) – Harvey Denton
- High Tide (1988) – Mick
- Darkman (1990) – Louis Strack Jr
- Weekend with Kate (1990) – Richard Muir
- Class Action (1991) – Michael Grazier
- Dingo (1992) – John Anderson
- Police Rescue (1992) - Lew
- Stark (1993) – Sly Morgan
- A Good Man in Africa (1994) – Morgan Leafy
- Angel Baby (1995) - Morris
- Back of Beyond (1995)
- Cosi (1996) – Errol
- Mr. Reliable (1996) – Wally Mellish
- Water Rats – Frank Holloway (91 episodes, 1996–1999)
- Dark City (1998) – Eddie Walenski
- The Man Who Sued God (2001) – David Myers
- Black and White (2002) – Father Tom Dixon
- BlackJack (2003,04,05,06,07) – Jack Kempson
- The Mystery of Natalie Wood (2004) - Nick Gurdin
- Tom White (2004) – Tom White
- Bastard Boys (2007) – John Coombs
- The Informant (2008) – Doug Lamont
- Gangs of Oz (2009) – Narrator
- Blind Company (2009) - Geoff Brewster
- Killing Time (2010) – Lewis Moran
- Matching Jack (2010)
- The Nothing Men (2010)
- Tomorrow, When The War Began (2010) - Dr. Clements
- The Eye of the Storm (2011) – Athol Shreve
- Schapelle (2013) - Fremantle media / channel 9
- The Man Who Jumped - Narrator
- The Secret Daughter Jack Norton /channel 7
- 2004 Film Critics Circle of Australia Best Actor – Male (Tom White)
- 2004 Lexus IF Award Best Actor (Tom White)
- 2003 Australian Entertainment "Mo" Award Best Actor – Play (Copenhagen)
- 2003 Helpmann Award Best Male Actor – Play (Copenhagen)
- 1997 Logie Award Most Outstanding Actor (Water Rats)
- 1995 Australian Film Institute Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Drama (Halifax f.p.: Hard Corps)
- 1986 Australian Film Institute Award Best Actor in a Lead Role (Malcolm)
- 2006 Film Critics Circle of Australia Best Actor (Solo)
- 2006 Film Critics Circle of Australia Best Supporting Actor (The Book of Revelation)
- 2004 Australian Film Institute Award Best Actor in a Lead Role (Tom White)
- 2000 Logie Award Most Outstanding Actor in a Series (Water Rats)
- 1991 Australian Film Institute Award Best Actor in a Lead Role (Dingo)
- 1987 Australian Film Institute Award Best Actor in a Lead Role (Ground Zero)
- Interview with Colin Friels, George Negus Tonight (ABC Television), 26 August 2004. http://www.abc.net.au/gnt/profiles/Transcripts/s1186644.htm Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved May 2007.
- "Colin Friels Biography (1952–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
- Hinson, Hal (1988). Ground Zero (review), Washington Post, 30 September 1987.
- Australian Television Information Archive: Water Rats http://www.australiantelevision.net/water_rats/waterrats.html
- Graeme Webber and Anthony Stavrinos, "Judy Davis takes out violence order against Colin Friels", The Age, 31 October 2002, http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/10/30/1035683474314.html
- Sydney Peace Foundation, Tell Me the Truth About Peace (event), 2005, http://www.spf.arts.usyd.edu.au/events_2005.shtml#TruthAboutPeace, retrieved May 2007.