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TV

Bernard Curry's brother inspired him to sign onto Wentworth

“Getting this role has turned my career around”

By Tamara Cullen
When TV WEEK catches up with Bernard Curry in Melbourne, he's gradually shaking off the effects of a long flight from London.
Stretching his arms and settling in for a chat, the Australian actor quickly shares his busy schedule. From mingling with crowds at a special Wentworth fan event in the United Kingdom, Bernard is back in Australia and straight onto the set of his new show, My Life Is Murder.
He may be back on home soil, but Bernard is still flying high.
"I feel such a sense of gratitude for being an actor in Australia, and the world, at the moment," Bernard, 45, says.
"When you're in a room like that [with hundreds of fans], the magnitude of what you're doing hits home. Wentworth has touched so many people around the world and gone towards revolutionising the way women are portrayed in the media and on television."
Photo: Tina Smigielski
Fans have lauded the prison drama since its beginning, but critics were – at first – less quick to see its appeal.
Today, the TV landscape has changed and Wentworth is leading the pack. The Foxtel series was awarded Most Outstanding Drama Program at the 61st TV WEEK Logie Awards – for the second year in a row – and Bernard's performance as prison guard Jake Stewart earnt him a nomination for Most Outstanding Supporting Actor.
However, Bernard admits he was sceptical about signing on to the series until a call to brother and fellow actor Stephen Curry shifted his perspective.
"When I got the gig, I'd never watched the show," Bernard, who joined Wentworth in season four, explains.
"I called Steve and said, 'What's the story with Wentworth?' He paused and said, 'Look, I'll tell you the truth: when I first heard they were doing a re-imagining of Prisoner [the iconic Australian series of 30 years ago], I was worried it would be a bit s*t and it would be really disappointing if they messed it up. But honestly, it's so good. I can't stop watching it'."
Bernard heeded his brother's advice, accepted the role, and hasn't looked back.
"Jake is the best character I've ever played," he says. "Getting this role has turned my career around. [Before this] I'd been doing well in the States and was on an upward trajectory, but Wentworth has taken me to another level. I'm incredibly happy and fulfilled."
Bernard with the Wentworth cast at the 2019 TV WEEK Logie Awards.
Bernard, who has appeared in both local and international productions such as Home And Away, Neighbours, NCIS, Once Upon A Time and Blindspot, could have been happy with the simplicity of prison life – but he's breaking out.
Knowing his acting career "could all dry up tomorrow", the star seized the opportunity to act alongside Lucy Lawless in new Network 10 comedy-drama My Life Is Murder.
Yes, more crims to deal with. But there are lots of laughs too.
"Lucy is driving the bus in this series and we get along so well," Bernard says.
"Xena: The Warrior Princess [which Lucy starred in in the '90s] was another trailblazing series for women and she did it so well. I didn't meet her for the first time until the chemistry test. Leah Purcell [Bernard's co-star in Wentworth] is also the director, and it all just clicked.
"Australia is ready for another cop series, but it has a huge difference to ones we've seen before. MLIM focuses more on the characters and has an essence of [1980s US series] Moonlighting," he says. "I've enjoyed playing with both comedy and drama."
Bernard was thrilled to join drama series My Life Is Murder with Lucy Lawless and Ebony Vagulans.
Bernard, who was recently also granted US citizenship, is hopeful MLIM will resonate with fans worldwide. But he's equally happy to spend quality time with his wife Sonya and two boys, Fox, nine, and seven-year-old Banjo.
"At the end of the day, I'm just happy to enjoy the lifestyle we're in; we go out to a shack on 20 acres in Ballarat [in Victoria] and the family enjoy spending time there," he says.
"Things are going well and I'm incredibly lucky. It's all about living life and I'm embracing every single moment."
The Wentworth season finale airs Tuesday July 30 at 8.30pm (AEST) on FOX Showcase.
My Life Is Murder airs Wednesdays at 9.10pm on 10.

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