Discovered at the age of 13, Vince Colosimo quickly became one of Australia’s best-known actors. A flirtation with the drug ice and the threat of a jail sentence, however, stalled his career. Now he’s back with a new movie.
Vince Colosimo is an actor. A very fine actor. And so the despairing expression he now shares – his demeanour turning so abruptly doleful, that face collapsing into such fragile sorrow – could be an award-winning performance. But it isn’t. You can feel the truth of it.
For one thing, the tone of his voice climbs an octave, now plaintive and barely a whisper, like a sad child. Then there are his words, or rather the bare few he can muster that are inconsistent with the happy, chatty presence he was earlier this morning, turning every non sequitur into a jolly ramble. His body language, too, shifts. He had been angled toward me. He touched my arm, our toes tapped and his perfect teeth gleamed. He sat close, too, revealing the lint on his dark grey jumper, a dropped stitch in his light grey scarf, and the even lighter grey roots beneath his signature crown of curly dark hair, now dyed, but still flowing in pretty chocolate swirls. Instead he pivots his chair at a right angle. Legs crossed. Arms folded.
In around 90 minutes we have meandered through the 51-year-old’s Calabrian heritage and his 38-year career – everything from memorable film performances in Chopper and Lantana to popular TV roles in The Secret Life of Us and Underbelly – to arrive at his new film The Second, which premiered at the Gold Coast Film Festival in April and opens in cinemas nationally on Thursday.
Until now, Colosimo has not broken eye contact. But after we’re done with some chit-chat – discussing the potty-training misadventures of his children, and the sparse talent at his beloved Carlton Football Club – his gaze drifts. He is focused squarely on the uncomfortable, but inevitable, topic of his recent drug use.
Colosimo’s first trouble with the law was in 2014, when he was caught driving with a suspended licence, itself a result of too many speeding fines. In 2016 he was pulled over again, this time found with a small quantity of methamphetamine, known as ice, stashed inside a sunglasses case. Less than 12 months later, police waved his black Saab to the shoulder of a busy Melbourne street where an oral test determined he was driving under the influence of that same drug, again without a licence. When he appeared in court last November, he was given a final warning by Magistrate David Starvaggi, who fined him $3500 and suspended his driving licence. “You’re risking a jail term,” said the magistrate. “If you’re back here for a fourth time, it won’t be pretty.”
Colosimo’s mouth cracks open at the memory. His eyes mist over but he does not cry, firmly blinking back that urge. If Colosimo is acting, it is a role he does not relish. “It was awful. Awful,” he says, staring into the vacant middle distance, the way he did back in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. “It rang true, and it sat in my head for a long time. Harsh but fair.”
Photography by Alina Gozin’a