16th May 1998
William McInnes reveals his reasons for wanting to quit TV’s top show and why he hates being a “star”.
It’s Australia’s most popular television series and most actors would give a limb to be part of it, but William McInnes is already considering life after Blue Heelers.
“You can get treated with contempt because you’re just a familiar face (on television) and then you start getting contemptuous of what you do and then it’s time to move on,” says the down-to-earth actor, who plays surly Sgt Nick Schultz.
“I’ll go before that happens. For now, it’s more of the same, but that’s all right. I enjoy the show and the people I work with.”
Despite its huge success, and his own popularity with viewers, William is nonplussed by the public praise heaped on Blue Heelers.
“You’d be having something extra in your tea if you thought it was reality,” he says dryly.
Since graduating from West Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 1989, William has hardly struggled for work and he admits turning his back on a show such as Blue Heelers, after four years, would be no small deal.
“Anyone who has a role in a long-running series is closeted from reality,” he says.
“Not many actors know what they’re going to be doing the following week. The whole occupation is fraught with uncertainty.”
The perceived star status of people who work on television is something William dismisses with contempt.
“What a strange thing to go off and forsake everything, just to be a star,” he says.
“What’s a star anyway? Its a big ball of gas what shies a lot.
“I find being called a star entirely embarrassing. There’s nothing special about being on the telly. It’s a bit of fun, but that’s it.”
William says he was drawn to acting, but remains wary of the industry.
Certainly no-one could accuse William of taking himself too seriously.
“You wouldn’t have any kudos for being in a show like this. It’s perceived as popular and there’s a downside to that,” William says.
“If something’s popular, it’s got to a appeal to lots of people. Bland food is popular. The blander something is, the less edgy, or the less colourful it is, the more popular it will be.
“I think Blue Heelers has suffered from that a little bit.
“But it’s not something I’m too upset about. It’s great to have people watching your show and liking what you do.”
As for the critics, William takes the rough with the smooth and is happy to leave the limelight to his co-stars.
“Sometimes a very bad review can be really entertaining, I’ve had some shockers. One time I was told I was not good enough to be a ham, just a piece of stringy bacon. I keep that one.”
So what would an ideal future hold?
“A good job and a secure wage. I don’t think I’ be here as a long as Blue Heelers, that’s for sure,” William says.
“I don’t want to be walking around in the background, opening doors for John Wood and making cups of tea for Lisa, or eating gruel at the local police retirement home.”
If anything is responsible for William’s pragmatic attitude to work, it’s being married (to writer, director and animator Sarah Watt) and having two children (Clem, 4 and new arrival, Stella).
“Fatherhood opens up your perspective on life. Acting is quite a selfish thing, it’s ego driven,” he says.
“But when you get married, you’ve got others to consider. It’s no longer just your life, it’s theirs too.”
Original content copyright TV Week.