TV

Matthew Le Nevez tells TV WEEK about his two huge new US roles

The actor opens up on his big break!

By Jenny Cooney Carrillo
Even though it's a cold and rainy Los Angeles afternoon, Logie Award-winning actor Matthew Le Nevez has braved the elements to join TV WEEK for a drink at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills.
He's popped in to talk about two major streaming shows on Amazon Prime Video in which he's featured: The Widow with Kate Beckinsale, and the upcoming second season of Absentia, co-starring former Castle actress Stana Katic.
Despite riding the crest of a wave Stateside right now, Matthew's modesty prevents him from revelling in this high-profile Hollywood moment he's clearly having.
"You just hope you don't suck in it!" he cautions with a grin.
Matthew has scored two major roles in the US.
The Aussie star has been based in Los Angeles for 10 years now and has been commuting across the Pacific most of that time for his best-known role: Offspring's Patrick Reid. His character was killed off right before Nina (Asher Keddie) gave birth to their child.
He enjoyed other big roles in The Kettering Incident, Love Child and Brock.
But in between those roles, Matthew has always returned to LA. There he's quietly raising his growing family in West Hollywood with his American partner Michelle, who specialises in medical device sales for spinal surgeries at top LA area hospitals.
"Certainly, Michelle and the kids are the main things that have kept me here," the 40-year-old confides, referring to his son Levi, four, and his two-year-old daughter Wren, whom he's never publicly acknowledged before.
When complimented that he could somehow keep his daughter completely off the radar for so long, he shrugs.
"Some people like to show them off to the world," he says. "But they're my kids and it's not their choice to be on social media. Maybe I'm too serious about it all, but they are very special little children."
He says all this while dressed warmly in a black shirt, jacket and pants, and a white cowboy-style hat. He's also sporting facial stubble he's growing during a well- deserved break in his schedule.
Matthew was best known for his starring role opposite Asher Keddie in Offspring.
Back in 2016, Matthew joined his brother Tim in Kahama in Tanzania for three months. They were helping the small town struggling with the closure of a nearby gold mine and trying to transition to sustainable farming to survive.
"We ran everything from job training programs to soccer tournaments," he recounts proudly. "So it seemed serendipitous that my agent called me there to tell me I got The Widow role, which was set nearby in the Congo!"
In The Widow, Kate Beckinsale plays Georgia Wells and Matt plays Will Mason, her supposedly late husband. Three years after Will was believed to have died in an African plane crash, Georgia glimpses him in a live news broadcast from the Congo, and the cat-and-mouse-style thriller begins.
The eight-part limited series unfolds with Will alive in flashbacks that jump from happier times to a tragedy that strained their marriage.
But could we see Will again in the current timeline as Georgia risks everything to head to the Congo to find him?
"Will is certainly a malleable character and I think he finds the best in most situations," Matthew hints.
Matthew stars as Will in The Widow.
Hollywood heavyweight Kate, 45, says she's a big fan of the Aussie actor.
"I hear he's like a huge stud in Australia," she says with a giggle. "But I loved him. He was such a good egg and always lovely when he was on set, so we've stayed very good friends."
Matthew describes Kate as "smart, funny and durable" and also agrees they bonded on set in Africa during the rough and isolated shoot.
"Once she saw she could trust me, things changed very quickly," he adds.
Matthew then recalls attending Kate's recent birthday party in LA.
"Christina Aguilera was there and when they said they were doing karaoke, I said, 'Have you heard me sing?' and slid out the back door!" Matthew says with a laugh.
Kate stars as Army vet Georgia.
After at least seven trips between LA and South Africa during the six months of filming The Widow, Matthew then headed straight to Bulgaria to film Absentia.
He plays a Navy SEAL who teams up with Emily (Stana Katic) to help her find the people who kidnapped and tortured her at the beginning of last season.
"I knew nothing about the show when I auditioned, so when I watched it, I was surprised with how far they push the genre and how incredible Stana is," Matthew says.
"She's also a really special number one on the call sheet. She's smart and speaks multiple languages – including Serbian, Croatian and picking up Bulgarian while we were there.
"But she's also really caring of her cast and crew and sacrifices a lot of her own time to make sure they get what they need."
"I knew nothing about the show when I auditioned," Matthew reveals of his role in Absentia.
Matthew admits the long separations have can be hard on his family. "I think anyone goes through that burden of sacrifice when you're a parent, whether you are an actor or you work in an office," he acknowledges.
"My mum and dad made a lot of sacrifices for me. I certainly would think I'd do everything I can to make sure my children have all the opportunities in life that I've had, so one of those sacrifices for me was staying here in the US."
Would he ever consider moving back to Australia permanently? "I'm happy here with my kids, and Levi is about to start kindergarten," he says after a pause.
"But Michelle and I often talk about the fact that ultimately, neither of us want to raise our kids in LA, and I certainly romanticise the idea of moving back."

Although Matthew says he's optimistic there will be another opportunity to work at home, "it was good to take a break," he concedes, "so that for a year or two, Australia doesn't get sick of me being in everything."
In the meantime, the devoted dad says he's takes his career in stride and is open to where his next job will take him.
"When you're gone most of the year working, you realise your children grow up fast," he says. "I'm trying to be as hands-on as I can be right now, because my boy won't need me to calm him in the middle of the night when he has a nightmare in five years.
"So, you just have to appreciate those small moments."
The Widow Season 1 is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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