|Born||Paul Joseph Mercurio
31 March 1963
Swan Hill, Victoria, Australia
|Family||Gus Mercurio (father)|
Paul Joseph Mercurio (born 31 March 1963) is an Australian actor, dancer, and TV presenter. Mercurio is best known for his lead role in Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom (1992). His father was the character actor Gus Mercurio.
It all started at the age of nine when Paul first told his mum that he wanted to learn to dance. Encouraging of her young son, Paul went on to study classical ballet, jazz, tap and vaudeville, and then at thirteen he joined an amateur theatre group and studied the various disciplines of theatre for four years. Combining these two disciplines has informed and shaped his career as a performer, a choreographer and as a director.
Paul’s career has been one of diversity. The first stage was very much focused on dance and choreography. From 1982 – 1992 he toured extensively around Australia and the world, performing and choreographing with Sydney Dance Company where he was principal dancer for ten years. He formed his own dance company Australian Choreographic Ensemble in 1992 for which he directed, choreographed and danced. Paul’s choreographic credits include more than thirty dance works for stage and TV – well actually 33 if you don’t include the TV commercials. He was awarded the Mo Award for Dance Performer of the year 1992.
He contributed choreography on “Strictly Ballroom” and has also choreographed 4 other feature films, the last one being Will Smith’s mega blockbuster “I Robot” for which Paul was the movement consultant. He was nominated in 2004 for a Helpmann award for his choreography for the musical “Annie Get Your Gun” but was pipped at the post by “The Producers”.
The second stage has been focused on the film and television industry where Paul has made a mark as an actor and presenter, being nominated for an AFI award for best actor – Strictly Ballroom and a Logie Award – most outstanding performance for Day of the Roses. He has worked alongside such notables as Ben Kingsley, Martin Landowne, Christian Slater and others. He has appeared in fourteen US and Australian feature films and countless hours of television spanning the drama, comedy and lifestyle.
Paul is well known for his time on "Dancing with the Stars" in Australia and also in the New Zealand version. He has hosted two series of the food and travel series, "The Food Trail" and four series of his own food and travel show "Mercurio's Menu". “Mercurio’s Menu” has had significant success with a peak audience of over one million viewers and has been screened on free to air on channel Seven, channel Seven digital, on Foxtel and is beamed out to over 48 countries around the world. He also hosted series two (10 episodes) of New Zealand on a Plate.
In 2009 Paul published his very first cookbook “Mercurio’s Menu” in Australia and New Zealand. He followed that up in 2011 with his second cook book – “Cooking with Beer” which has been a critical success already going into several reprints and is currently available in four languages and eight countries. It also took out the fourth best beer book in the world at the 2012 Gourmand Cookbook awards in Paris.
Paul was a featured chef on Channel Nines Mornings Program throughout 2013 and became a Guinness Book of Records Holder for the fastest sorting of coloured jelly babies using chopsticks! August 2015 saw the release of his third cook book – Kitchen Mojo.
In between acting engagements, choreographic engagements, speaking engagements, teaching engagements, hosting engagements and other, you know - engagements, he is constantly developing and nurturing other interests in his life – the most important being his wife and three daughters. There is more that could be said about Paul and there is more to come but importantly his cholesterol levels remain low and he is enjoying life!
Mercurio was born in Swan Hill, Victoria in 1963 and began ballet at nine. By the age of 19 in 1982, he was Principal Dancer with the Sydney Dance Company – a position he held for 10 years. During this time, he was commissioned to choreograph six works performed by the company. Mercurio left the Sydney Dance Company in August 1992 to found the Australian Choreographic Ensemble which danced from 1992 to 1995, where he was the Director, Principal Dancer and Principal Choreographer.
Mercurio made his film debut in Strictly Ballroom, receiving an Australian Film Institute Award nomination for best actor in a feature film in 1993. His film credits have included: Exit to Eden, Back of Beyond, Così, Red Ribbon Blues, Welcome to Woop Woop, The Dark Planet, The First 9½ Weeks, Kick and Sydney – A Story of a City. He starred, wrote, choreographed, produced and directed the short film Spilt Milk. Mercurio produced a TV documentary based on the setting up of his own dance company and it's first production "Contact" performed at The Dance Space in Sydney in 1992 the documentary was called Life's Burning Desire. He starred in the lead role of Joseph in the Emmy award–winning US TV mini-series The Bible: Joseph in 1995. Later, he joined the ensemble cast for the 1998 mini-series drama The Day of the Roses, depicting the 1977 Granville railway disaster for which he was nominated for a Logie award in the Most Outstanding performance category. Most recently, Paul has taken roles in independent films, such as 2016's Hunting for Shadows and in 2017 The Secret Agreement.
Mercurio has appeared in popular Australian shows such as, Blue Heelers, All Saints, Murder Call, Medivac, Heartbreak High, Water Rats, and The Day of the Roses. Mercurio continues to dance and choreograph professionally. He was a movement consultant on the Will Smith movie I, Robot, and has choreographed an American TV campaign for Coca-Cola, the Harry M Miller production of Jesus Christ Superstar and Annie Get Your Gun. In January 2004, he appeared on stage in The Full Monty.
Mercurio was a judge on both the Australian and New Zealand versions of Dancing with the Stars until August 2008, when he was dropped from the judging panel of the Australian version. Dancing with the Stars Australia was broadcast on Channel Seven from 2004 to 2007. He was a judge in the New Zealand version. In 2008, he began hosting a series called Mercurio's Menu where he travels Australia, cooking in different locations.
- "Paul Mercurio out of Dancing and Ian Dickson's Idol fears". The Daily Telegraph. 12 August 2008.
- "New faces for Dancing with the Stars". TVNZ. Retrieved 1 March 2009.