Interview: Zachary J Garred (Actor)
Zachary Garred at IMDB
It is my pleasure to share a brand new interview here at GelNerd's World. I'm delighted to say it is with a man of many talents; director, producer, writer, developer... the list is endless.
Zachary J Garred is Australian born and bred, forging a career in domestic TV hits such as Home & Away, Foreign Exchange and General Hospital. It didn't take long for the world to come calling, and since then Zachary has lent his talent to TV, video games and movies such as NCIS: Los Angeles, L.A. Noire and most recently the Occupation sci-fi franchise.
GelNerd: Zachary J Garred! Thank you for agreeing to this interview, and for giving me your time. I trust you are safe, well and surviving this crazy Covid-19 world we live in; how are you holding up?
Zachary: G’day mate! Thanks heaps for having me! Lovely to have a chat!
The last twelve months here in Los Angeles has been a challenging experience, obviously the UK had a torrid experience too. I am fully vaccinated now (I joined club Moderna) and this week, LA withdraws most of the restrictions! It is such a relief to be in this position given only 6 months ago LA on its own was experiencing over 20 000 cases a day.
It has been very difficult but we feel the worst is well and truly behind us now, though that doesn’t alleviate the pain families who lost loved ones will feel.
GelNerd: Glad to hear this, Zac. Now, born and raised in Newcastle, Australia, you found career success in many domestic shows early on such as 'Foreign Exchange' and the global soap sensation 'Home & Away'. How did you make that break into the industry?
Zachary: Foreign Exchange was my break in to the industry, it was a wonderful job! I was 16 and had just signed with an agent in Sydney, I landed the role of Brett in Foreign Exchange and that initiated me in to this career. I had shot some commercials and studied speech and drama in Australia but this was another step. I shot for three months in Perth and three months in Galway, Ireland.
I was with an incredible cast and crew that educated me on the technical and creative process of acting. So it was more than just a step in to the industry, it helped me understand my craft.
And being a part of Home and Away is a blast! I played a daggy lab technician ha! So I was the exact opposite of what Chris and my RAINFALL castmate, Dan, were on the show.
GelNerd: When was it during your upbringing you knew that you wanted a career in the industry? Was it early on, or did you have another career in mind that took a U-turn for you wanting to be an actor?
Zachary: I was always interested in film and TV. It was mostly the technical and creative side of things that fascinated me. I would watch as many behind the scenes documentaries as I could on movies like STAR WARS, JURASSIC PARK, TITANIC things like that.
I actually wrote a letter to Thomas The Tank Engine when I was about 9? I think? I wrote asking how they made the show, what cameras did they use, how did the models work, and I received this HUGE parcel from them with brochures and a couple of figures for me and my brother, ha!
I played lots of sport when I was younger and had eyes to playing rugby league professionally, but I broke my foot when I was 14. During my time away from sport I started studying speech and drama. Acting was always there in my life, in some way, but when I started studying the craft is when I really started getting in to it and consider a career.
GelNerd: That's amazing - I love Thomas the Tank (and still do!) Wish I had written to them now for some goodies! Now, your first real "break" as a creative force, I feel, was 'Duffy' in which you worked as director, producer, writer and actor! A true labour of love and a turning point for you. Winner at the Los Angeles film awards and other festival selections; how did this project come to light and how did you feel with the reception
Zachary: Thanks mate! DUFFY happened after a couple of busy years on projects here in LA, I was in Newcastle (my hometown in Australia) with my girlfriend for a period of time which coincided with some of my other mates in the film industry being around. We all spoke and had some projects to shoot over a six week period, so we shot my mate Sam Eather’s award winning short, JINXED, and we also shot DUFFY.
A close mate and I witnessed a suicide a few years ago. We knew this person so it was a difficult experience. My mate was instrumental in helping me through it, because I did not really confront the difficulty of it until one night when I had a panic attack.
DUFFY is written from that experience but it explores deeper issues around mens mental health. How it is ok to open up and talk about your grief. It is changing, but men in parts of Australia still find it difficult to open up about the tragedies in life, there can be a prevaricating attitude of “She’ll be right.” It’s a stoicism that can be virtuous, but it does also bottle up the emotions we feel. It is OK to talk about them. I didn’t, and it really affected me for a while.
So DUFFY is a deeply personal story to me and one that is definitely familiar to men in my community and globally.
Making the film was a community effort with my incredibly talented mates. Sam Eather, Gavin Blyth, Sam Hutchison, Shane Burrell to name a few. They all helped make it happen.
GelNerd: Thank you for sharing that, and I'm sorry to hear what you went through. It's inspirational, I feel, when you see an someone like yourself who has worked up in the industry from actor to then creating their own short film that gains festival acclaim. What inspirations did you have growing up that made you truly want to make a name for yourself
Zachary: I really just wanted to work hard and become good at something I loved. I had people in and out of the creative arts that drove me. I was always pretty inspired by my grandparents, their resolve and tenacity is something that I found striking. Stories from Aboriginal lore too, like Pemulwuy, always captured me. People like Fred Hollows, Stacey Abrams, Eddie Mabo inspire passion and others like Billy Connolly, Anthony Bourdain and W. Kamau Bell bring wonderful perspectives on life.
Also Australian sporting talent like Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell, Yvonne Goolagong and Peter Norman are really inspirational. They backed themselves in tough disciplines, away from home, and they succeeded. Yeah, people who chase what they love to the absolute extent I think are remarkable.
GelNerd: You've worked with some hot talent including the legendary Temuera Morrison and touched on so many genres. On that note, who or what are your inspirations in the industry now that you look to and spur you on
Zachary: Creatively there are many who I find inspirational! Lately, Joel Edgerton in particular. He makes incredible work! I admire actors who create indelible characters and then create work for others too. Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Another Hayes for example. In my immediate community, I have mates who are incredible writers, directors and actors and we really are tight and encouraging. We love to see each other succeed and have a beer to celebrate the wins!
I must say there are two Aussie directors, Claire McCarthy and Daina Reid, who I revere. They make the most compelling and striking work! These remarkable people always spur me on.
As for what, I love the pursuit. I love creating and working on something and also the spontaneity and life that comes when a scene just takes off. It is a brilliant feeling!
GelNerd: Focusing on your latest project now out, 'Occupation: Rainfall'! This is a sci-fi sequel to a 2018 sleeper hit 'Occupation' that felt and looked like a very passionate indie film. However, with this sequel, the budget is almost triple that of the original and the scale is huge! How was it working on a film that pretty much rivals many Hollywood blockbusters?
Zachary: It is an incredible experience, but the amount of fun we have on camera is balanced out by the amount of work off it. I guess that makes the payoff even more enjoyable? It is adrenaline racing I must say. Plus, we really are just tapping back in to childhood imagination, running around the bush or backyard playing soldiers! That may seem like an oversimplification but, you believe it as a kid, you believe it as an adult playing the role, ha!
This is different to the Hollywood blockbusters in that it is much smaller and concise with its crew. That creates an intimate environment for a huge production, and that is not always the case. I liked that a lot.
GelNerd: You're not just an actor on those films, but associate producer on 'Rainfall' - can you share with me your journey from actor to exec producer and how it happened?
Zachary: Sure! I was already on the film reprising my role of Dennis, and we all work very closely with Luke on his projects. Basically, I brought some financing in to the film for the second block of shooting but Luke is also a very collaborative director in his work. I was also essentially a creative sounding board for him, I would give him my feedback or bring suggestions to him if he sought them.
That was my associate producer role in a nutshell, partly creative and partly financial.
GelNerd: Your character in the series, Dennis, starts off as a down-and-out hobo trying to make a decent life staying out of trouble with the law. By 'Rainfall', he's a key resistance fighter taking on alien invaders! How much fun was it playing someone who goes from pretty much zero to hero, developing your ability as an actor getting stuck into something like this?
Zachary: Dennis really gets a promotion eh?? I love playing that journey! And working with Dena Kaplan who plays his girlfriend Robin. Dena is a wonderful actor and beautiful person. Essentially, what Dennis is, has not really changed. He is still cheeky, roguish and always willing to do something questionable for the greater good.
His heart is always with the people, he had a rough life so he wants to make sure the most vulnerable in this military endeavour are not neglected.
I love playing that, it shows a bit more of his humanity and heart, definitely on a much larger scale. Plus, he has a complicated relationship with the grays which I love! He sees them as the enemy but discovers maybe there is more humanity in his enemy than his allies?
GelNerd: Is there room for a third entry to the 'Occupation' series, because there is evidently a story there for it following 'Rainfall' and the reception to this is massive - there could be a really breakout for you all in the industry
Zachary: Yes there is! Luke has a script and a great conclusion, if people keep seeing the film and enjoying it, like they have been, then I hope we can finish this epic saga. So get out and see RAINFAL!
GelNerd: It's a cracking film, and yes, go see it when you can everyone for sure! Thank you Zac, for sharing this. You've got more work in the pipeline going forward - can you share some details on what you've got coming up either for my followers in Australia or even those worldwide when we can see you next?
Zachary: I have just wrapped a wonderful film called ZERO ROAD in Wyoming. Written and directed by a very talented up and coming bloke named Chance Sanchez. That will be out later this year. It is a really compelling and dark coming-of-age story set in Casper, Wyoming.
I am also in SEANCE, a horror film directed by the incredible Chris Cramer. We shot that in Pennsylvania recently, you can expect to see that later this year too.
There is also AUSTRALIAN GANGSTER, directed by Gregor Jordan and Fadia Abboud. That is a miniseries airing on the Seven Network in Australia this year. I can’t wait for people to see that!!! The actors are incredible!!! It is all tight for now because it is a true story about some ahhhh, colourful, identities.
GelNerd: One thing I am is a huge James Bond fan, and I want to draw out Bond fandom in everyone I talk to. So! My question to you Zac, is how big a James Bond fan are you, and are you ready for 'No Time To Die' finally reaching cinemas?
Zachary: I am a MASSIVE James Bond fan! My Dad’s favourite is Thunderball and I seem to remember that being one of the first movies I saw on television? I grew up on GoldenEye 007, the game on ’64 hit just as I was about 10, and the movie did too, so it was a perfect initiation for me. Then I discovered the canon of Bond! Have been in to it ever since!
My cousin has ALL of the movies in that huge DVD collector kit you could get when (Daniel) Craig’s Casino Royale came out!
I am SO AMPED for No Time To Die! With Bond, you always know you are going to be entertained, and I miss that escapism and thrill! Bring it on!!
I have really enjoyed Craig’s Bond and knowing that Fukunaga is behind No Time To Die, with his incredible body of work, just ramps it up even more.
GelNerd: I'm glad to hear that, and I can't wait either. It's been too long. Now, it's been a real pleasure to discover a little more about you and your work Zac, so thank you again for taking the time to talk to me and share this. Just one more question, as I use popcorn to rate movies in my reviews, are you a sweet or salted popcorn eater?
Zachary: Crucial question! I only ever had salted popcorn in Australia, so salt is the basic one for me BUT my eyes have been opened to caramel popcorn here in the states and…oh mate….it is good!
GelNerd: Zac, thank you so much for your time and sharing your experience! Good luck with Occupation:Rainfall - bring on the rain!
Please follow Zachary on Twitter - @ZJGarred - to follow all his latest news, developments and upcoming projects on the big and small screen!
Signature Entertainment will present Occupation: Rainfall in UK cinemas and VOD from 9 July with a DVD / Blu-ray release September 13th!