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Palmer Marchese (Spokes)

Palmer Marchese is 19-years-old and currently lives in Brisbane, but was born and raised in Melbourne. He is already a seasoned performer, with an extensive training resume and a growing list of credits in stage productions, short films and television.

Its a rare thing to be a fresh face with a list of credits as long as your arm, but this lad has managed to pull it off... last year, he won a national vote to host Network Ten’s Toasted TV and gained a wealth of presenting, interviewing and production experience. He recently made the tough decision to leave the show in order to pursue more serious roles.

It’s quite a gamble to walk away from a well-paid job, but it’s a decision that was made easier by recent interest form prominent casting agents and directors. This buzz is thanks to Palmer’s lead role in the critically acclaimed short film
Spokes, in which he delivers a moving portrayal of a love-struck and isolated gay man.

His versatile performance wowed audiences in Sydney and saw Spokes take out the short component at the Mardi Gras Film Festival. Now the film is embarking on a national tour as part of the Queer Film Festival, before heading off overseas to travel the festival circuit. got to sit on the virtual couch with the talented young man to fire off some quick questions and help us get to know him just a little bit better.

Veteran actors say you should never work with animals and children... is that why you left your role on a kid’s TV show?

I love kids, but what I really want to do with my career strays outside of the boundaries of children’s television. I’m ready to take on more serious and challenging roles that appeal to a wider audience.

You’ve done a lot of theatre work – what was your favourite production and why?

The production of My Pet Human by Leah Pellinkoff was my favourite. I’ve always been a pet lover and this play explored the similarities between a dog and its owner. The raw Australian dialect in the script made me feel right at home and the fact I had to transform in and out of being a panting, barking and talking dog helped to build my self esteem whilst performing.

Harold from Neighbours – cool or not?

I don’t know him personally, but I know Neighbours fans miss him dearly!

You play the lead in short film Spokes. Did you hesitate before taking a gay role?

To be honest, I didn’t know it was a gay role until I was in the audition room. When I found out, I took it on board as a challenge and an opportunity to show my diversity.

As a straight guy, what preparation did you have to do for this role?

Firstly I had to break down the walls I had put up as a straight guy. I realised I didn’t know that much about gay guys – I mean, I have gay friends but there was a lot that I didn’t understand. I tried to observe how women interact with men and transferred the emotion I would use towards a woman to convey what I was feeling in Spokes.

What was the most challenging part? Did you learn anything from playing a gay man (better sense of style, dancing ability etc.)

Spokes made me appreciate the sensitivity of life and the full extent of sentimental value. My character’s passive nature proved that having a strong will can be rewarding.

Your character doesn’t speak – how do you convey emotion without words? Did you have to spend lots of time in front of the mirror.

I always work with thought first, and action second. The body conveys our thoughts and emotions, and strong thoughts can be visible to an outsider. People say speech is only a small part of communication and things like body language and expression make up the majority. But yes, the mirror and I have been friends for a very long time – it’s an amazing self-critique tool.

You also provide the voice of the animated French ant in Spokes – is the ant gay too?

No, he’s a typically hard-working French ant. He has a certain charisma perhaps, but he’s not gay.

Heath Ledger’s career was helped along by his role in Brokeback Mountain and everyone’s talking about Sean Penn after Milk. Are you hoping for a similar boost?

I saw this role as an opportunity to try a new, daring and bold genre that I’d not experienced before. I got so much out of this opportunity and for that I’m incredibly grateful. If it results in some additional success, that’s just an added bonus.

What’s on the horizon for you? Would you rather a gig in film or TV?

There are some very exciting things in the pipeline at the moment. I wish I could tell you, but I’m sworn to secrecy until the contract ink is dry. Television is something I definitely enjoy but I think film is where I’d love to end up. It gives an artistic license to explore a larger variety of choices and ideas, with fewer restrictions than television.

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