Strictly Ballroom star Paul Mercurio is back - but he's switching the big screen for something completely unexpected
Paul rocketed to fame in his role as Scott Hastings in the iconic 1992 film.
Feb 22, 2021 1:00pm
By Woman's Day team
He's been a beacon of positivity on the big and small screen, especially after appearing on Strictly Ballroom, and now Paul Mercurio has reinvented himself as a politician to help fix the problems in his own backyard on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.
"You can call me a shire councillor, just don't call me a celebrity," says the father-of-three, who last year won a seat on the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
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"Who knows where it will lead? Prime minister, then leader of the world!"
He lets out a belly laugh over the jest, but if he threw his hat in the ring in either federal or state politics, Paul may just surprise himself.
"Never say never," he tells Woman's Day.
"I don't know where this experience is going to lead to, but then again, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be on my local council a year ago. I just thought I could make a difference if I got involved and I needed a new challenge."
The move into local politics is a major pivot for Paul, 57, who touched the hearts of millions around the globe when he burst onto the big screen playing the sexy lead in Baz Luhrmann's romantic comedy.
"People still stop me all the time to have a chat, just like we're old friends and I get emails from around the world... Germany, England, America," says Paul.
"It's a humbling experience and I'm grateful the film is still out there inspiring a beautiful and positive response."
What does Paul Mercurio do now?
When COVID hit last year, Paul's showbiz work dried up, including a recurring role playing the tormented father of a trans girl in Neighbours.
The TV gig gave him more time to spend in his home town with his wife of 33 years, Andrea, who he met when they were both accomplished professional ballet dancers.
And he's still clearly head-over-heels in love, even if Andrea is still coming to terms with being a "council widow" due to the huge amount of time Paul now devotes to local issues.
"We've had our ups and downs and challenges, but marriage for us has been a joy," he says.
"We're a team that works brilliantly together. We choose to have a positive, loving relationship. We walk every day and hold hands.You have little moments together."
Eldest daughter Elise, 31, is now married (to Jack), youngest daughter, Erin, 25, engaged, and together with middle daughter Emily, 29, the girls are all keen to become mums, so it's only a matter of time until Paul and Andrea become grandparents.
"I think I'll absolutely adore it when it happens," predicts Paul, who is itching to get back on TV or the big screen, but also loves being Councillor Mercurio.