TV

Samuel Johnson reveals: "I'm ready to return to TV"

The actor hopes there are big things on the horizon

By Zara Zubeidi
He once vowed he wouldn't act again until he raised $10 million for his cancer research charity, Love Your Sister.
But with the fundraising goal in sight, is Aussie actor Samuel Johnson set to appear on a reality show to help him reach the milestone?
It certainly seems likely, with news Samuel is considering signing on as a contestant on the upcoming season of Dancing With The Stars.
For a man who once rode 15,995km on a unicycle across Australia – the world's longest unicycle journey – and raised $1.5 million in the process, Samuel admits that dancing in front of the nation could be his toughest challenge yet.
"I'm not averse to dancing my way to $10 million… I have 16 left feet, so it'd be hilarious!" Samuel tells TV WEEK.
Samuel is looking to the future.
The actor has a feeling his sister Connie – who died of breast cancer last year – is urging him to sign up for the show to help him reach his target.
"I've got two voices in my head: I have Connie going, 'Are you scared?! Do it!' While the other voice is saying, 'Get the f* away!'" Samuel, 40, says with a laugh.
"If I'm prepared to embarrass myself on a unicycle, I'll do anything. I'm keen, so unless they can't come up with the fundraising mechanism, I'll be there!"
So could this TV gig pave the way for Samuel's return to acting?
"I'd like to return to TV, it's in my bones," he says. "But I don't want to do anything that would jeopardise our fundraising. I'm happy to go back [to TV], but there has to be that community benefit. I've got nothing left to prove in showbiz."
Samuel with his beloved sister Connie who died in 2017.
Samuel's big break came in 2001 as Evan in the hit drama The Secret Life Of Us. Then, in 2016, he landed the role of iconic music journalist – and close friend – Molly Meldrum in the miniseries of his life, Molly.
It was a role that would help earn Samuel a TV WEEK Gold Logie Award.
With a career spanning 20 years, Samuel says the industry has undergone many changes in that time, and he now has doubts as to whether he could actually make a comeback.
"When I was in the business, you didn't have to look perfect… I feel like I'm one of the last wonky-headed actors to make it through," he says with a laugh.
"If I stayed [in showbiz], there wouldn't be anything left for me," he says.
"There are only three actors who get work now – Rodger Corser is one of them. As the industry has globalised, local work has become harder to find.
"I doubt my ability to re-enter the fray on a number of levels. I mean, I waited 25 years to play Molly. Do I really want to wait another 25 years for a good role?!"
Co-stars Deborah Mailman and Samuel in The Secret Life Of Us.
Whether Samuel returns to acting or not, he has a busy year ahead. Having raised $8.6 million to date, he's on a mission to reach his fundraising target by the end of 2019.
Samuel's new book, Dear Santa – comprising a series of letters to Santa from some of Australia's favourite personalities – is part of that plan, with every sale contributing to cancer research.
Also, next year, he'll do a "lap of honour" around Australia in a motorhome, to say thanks to everyone who has backed Love Your Sister.
Samuel as Ian "Molly" Meldrum in Molly.
Meeting the charity's supporters – or "villagers" as they're known – is important to Samuel, after what he calls a "flat" year.
"Business wasn't good this year – we didn't raise any money, and when business isn't good I'm unhappy," he explains.
"We've really struggled as a charity this year without Connie, so it'll be good to turn it around.
"If I'm not raising money, I might as well be back in showbiz!"
Samuel's sister Hilde; Connie's sons Hamilton and Wiloughby with their dad Mike; and Samuel.
And when Samuel's not working, he's spending time with Connie's two sons, Willoughby, 12, and 11-year-old Hamilton.
Samuel says Willoughby is following in his footsteps when it comes to hatching fundraising ideas.
"He has a deep care not just for his mum, but a deep sense of responsibility towards his community," the proud uncle reveals.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he takes this thing over!"
With the family about to spend their second Christmas without Connie, Samuel says his role as an uncle is more important than ever.
"Connie was keen that the kids have someone to speak to about their mum, so it's my job to bring her up in conversation," he says. "Christmas is the perfect time to do that."
To read more interviews with your favourite stars, pick up a copy of this week's issue of TV WEEK. On sale now!

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