15th April 1978
By Ben Mitchell
NICK HEDSTROM is living a racy new lifestyle since becoming a teenage star of The Restless Years.
For instance, he doesn’t travel by thumb anymore,
“Those days of hitch-hiking to Channel 10 for studio auditions are history,’’ he says.
And he has left his parents’ home by the sea in Narrabeen, Sydney, to live on Sydney’s fashionable North Shore, an area he shares with numerous television personalities including Stuart Wagstaff and Paul Hogan.
But there the illusion ends, for Nick’s career as a TV star hasn’t made him rich — yet.
“People act impressed when I say I live in Kirribilli,” Nick says. “‘But then they haven’t seen where I live.”’
As for the car, he adds: “It’s a bomb. I paid $180 for it. But when you’ve been travelling around on your thumb it’s as good as a Rolls.”
Nick delighted his peers at the Grundy Organisation when he burst on to the screen as an angry school drop-out.
He clearly epitomised the struggling young Australian of today, left alone to face the complex pressures of a new society.
Many critics acclaimed him as an exciting “find” with great potential.
He has even been compared with Marlon Brando — and he’s still laughing about that.
“I play it by ear,” he says.
He attributes his success to two people — Peter Beckett, the character he plays in T.R.Y., and his English teacher at Narrabeen Boys’, Sandy Richardson.
“The education system needs more Sandy Richardsons,”’ he says. “She was an inspiration to us all,
“She directed me in a school play, called The Dragon, by Russian writer Eugene Schwartz. I played the part of a power-mad mayor.
“Sandy saw something in my acting and encouraged me to bring it out, She was as proud as Mum and Dad when I turned up in the first episode of The Restless Years.”
Strictly speaking, Nick’s first stage role was an elf in a kindergarten play.
He was five years old and it was his mum’s first view of him as an actor.
“Half way over to deliver Santa’s boots my crepe pants split open,” he laughed.
“Mum said I handled it very professionally. Santa got his boots and I carried on as if the audience weren’t in stitches.”
Nick’s love of acting grew through his work with the T.R.Y. team.
Previously, his ambition was to be a park ranger.
“I’m an animal lover,’’ he explained.
“As a kid I had the beach at my doorstep and the bush at the back and I collected animals by the million.
“My favorite was a blue tongue lizard called Tim.
“1 found Tim with his front claws chopped off. We became great friends. He used to sit on my shoulder a lot of the time.
“I loved going bush and wanted to study natural resources at Macquarie University as the first step to becoming a park ranger.
“But there was more to it than knowing about flora and fauna.
“Having to study chemistry, physics, biology, ecology and administration shook me at first but I wouldn’t hesitate trying for a park ranger’s job if I was forced to choose an alternative to acting.”
Nick’s job in T.R.Y. has provided some challenging moments for him, but at other times he finds he is playing himself.
“It’s harder for school leavers to make ‘something of themselves’ than it used to be,” he says.
“Kids have a whole lot of problems that just weren’t there in their parents’ day.
“In that sense I sometimes find myself saying or doing something I’ve done before when I’m on the set.
“Splitting up with a girl is a traumatic experience for a teenager. It’s happened to me and it’s something I can relate to when it happens in the script.
“When I’m delivering my lines sometimes my mind stops and says, ‘Hey, I’ve said this before.’ It’s a weird feeling, like re-enacting your own life.”
Nick has his idols but they don’t include Marlon Brando.
“Sir Laurence Olivier, what a dream of an actor,’’ Nick says. “He is what I think a good actor should be.”’
He has kind words for Jack Thompson and particularly his T.R.Y. colleague and veteran TV and radio star June Salter.
“When you work with someone as marvellous as June some of that professionalism is sure to rub off on you,” he says.
“That’s what I mean about playing things by ear. I’m no young man in a hurry. I’m giving myself all the time in the world to learn from others.”
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