Dad, at my home
Looking back at my choices, trying to embrace this life's mystery of not knowing and dealing with the phantoms that popped up their ugly heads, along the journey, the only constant in all of it was family.
Those traditions, sitting at the dining table without the television on, kissing my father's hand on his name day, my grandmother crocheting my sisters dowry; my mother disciplining me for speaking to an elder without respect, my brother being there at the end of a race cheering me on.
These are some of the colours I took with me to America wondering what on earth I was doing with 120 dollars in my pocket and this strange accent. I felt like a failure. Until one day a Greek director crossed my path. His name was Milton Katsolas and at the time he was directing Al Pacino in Camino Real at the Lincoln Centre. I studied with him for a number of years and eventually became his assistant. He helped me look at my insecurities like they were my children, to nurture them, add to them and not be afraid of my own personal expression. He was a great guide to me all these years later, he is still my teacher and friend.
My twenties was diving into the unknown collecting so much information; studying Chinese Art so that it helped me sit with Jacqueline Kennedy for an hour sipping tea, in a gallery explaining why the Chinese believed the spirit of an artist remained with it forever. Studying fashion with Molandandri in New York and dressing Robert Redford in a suit. Explaining to him that his suit didn't fit properly because he had to lose some fat around his waist to give credit to the design. We both stood looking in the mirror stunned. Watching John Guilgud on Broadway and feeling blessed to be in this acting profession.
These are some of my early memories, trying to conquer the pain of my own confusion and the doubts I put my family through, especially mum. You see, nobody else had left before and there was no comparison, except as one relative explained; actors, cab drivers, they're all the same. Obviously I had work to do.
It was the end of a Renaissance in New York and studying acting and all its physical elements of dance, fencing, voice to enhance your persona, those teachers were tough, breaking down was part of the norm; the process of becoming was not easy, you couldn't see it, insight was at the end of a tunnel. There were no handouts. What the hell was it all for? Yet the day the light came shooting throughout the tunnel, it all seemed worth it. Well most of the time.
With Dad, Peter
My arrogance was a great cover for my insecurities; I explained it to my critics that somewhere in the 16th century, my mother's side of the family came from Royalty. They just stared. It all became part of my personal collected experiences, these treasures which one day give weight in how you convey an expression that has been said before, only your voice gives it another meaning and somebody stands still. Days Of Our Lives to some was my first breakthrough in Hollywood, but I think it was the play Jockeys directed by Milton Katselas and produced by Jules Stein in New York. Slow Dancing In The Big City and the other film Altered Statesfollowed. And then, Play With Fire. I think coming home to do the series Mission Impossible and it becoming an international hit was the biggest embrace. There were no more apologies to make, the family sighed a relief, some of the relatives were depressed. Thank God I never had to drive that cab, dad could go to his club, only this time they were buying him drinks. Mum sat with her friends, head held high, she was indeed in my eyes, 'Royalty.'
Mum and my niece, Catherine
Since they made their transition in February of 1995, it all changed. A big part of my life was connected to them and now that dream was over. Certainly life never prepares you for this, no matter how many times you have witnessed it in other people's lives. Suddenly you're in the front line and there are no explanations. In the same year my character on Days dies too. Again embracing the mystery of not knowing. I withdrew for two years. All those questions; where do we go from here? Will I ever get to see my parents again? If that was it, what was it all for? It was another tunnel, only the light this time took its time.
One day, a friend who had been the head writer on Days for a number of years called. She was my Angel. She approached me about writing together. Sheri Thomas was another teacher, on the path I began to awaken again. I faced another challenge. Out of this, the screenplay Gordian Knot was born. To be shot in Melbourne in the new century, a tale of Greeks in the 50's and the struggle of identification. Then we completed Lion of the Season which was just optioned and our new script Fake completed. It's a thriller and I think our best to date. All this came out of that tunnel. It doesn't get easier, but the homework of the earlier years gave me a foundation to walk upon.
With Mum & Dad
As Nelson Mandela said: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. And when we let our light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others."
And so in these new beginnings its the heritage of being Greek that comes strongly to mind, in the things I have been so passionate about. And the memories of those wonderful lives that took the chance to come here when there was little to grasp in those lean years. They carved roads on this hard Australian soil and challenged what lay ahead by preserving and believing. They cleared the path for all of us.
And so as this century has come to a close and I look at my life this far and the myths that I danced with, it is my family, Peter, Eva, Connie, Pauline and George that are my heroes; for their love and beingness and I can see them now. Clearly. Forever.
Peter & John, my nephews. These photo's were taken on a trip to LA