When walking into a tiny Japanese restaurant in the side streets of Wollongong in NSW for dinner, the last person you'd expect to see at the next table is one of Australia's hottest acting exports.
But that's exactly what happened to TV WEEK Close Up just two days before we were scheduled to sit down for a chat with rising star and local Adam Demos.
Now, among the hustle and bustle of our exclusive photo shoot, Adam enthusiastically chats about his home town.
When the conversation turns from Wollongong's famous Dapto Dogs – also known as the Dapto Greyhound Racing Club – to his career, it's clear fame hasn't diminished the laid-back nature the coastal city has bred into Adam.
As he sits back comfortably in his chair, he explains how the glitz and glamour of Hollywood once seemed like a world away from his job at the city's Port Kembla steelworks.
"It's so far removed from the upbringing I had," Adam, 32, tells TV WEEK Close Up. "I didn't do drama at school and no-one around me knew I was in the industry."
Making it in Tinseltown is no easy feat even for the most ambitious and talented, so it's no surprise Adam was hesitant to pursue his dream. But the idea was one he couldn't quite shake.
"It took me until I was 23 years old to build up the courage to try it," he says. "I spent so much time thinking about it that it just got annoying; I hadn't bitten the bullet yet."
Acting was such a contrast to his life working in construction and hanging out with mates by the beach that when Adam finally enrolled in an acting course at Sydney's renowned Screenwise school, he kept it quiet.
He smiles as he recalls telling those closest to him that he was working extra shifts at weekends to hide the fact he was making the trip to the city.
"It was a secret for a while," Adam says with a laugh. "I did a beginners course on Saturdays for about 10 weeks, but told everyone I was just working overtime."
It wasn't a fear of judgement that caused him to keep his dream of acting under wraps, but a level-headed approach – something that appears ingrained in his personality.
"I didn't know how people would take it and I didn't know if I would like it or not, so I just wanted to figure all that out first, on my own," he explains. "When I did figure out that I loved it and knew that I was going to commit to it, I knew it was time to tell everybody."
While his covert career may have come as a surprise at first, Adam says his family and friends were supportive and good at keeping him grounded.
"They love it," he says. "They give you a hard time with anything you're doing, because they like to joke around, but they're so supportive."
It was the push by his mates to pursue what he loved that really helped Adam stick with his dream, particularly that of friend and former Home And Away star Lincoln Younes.
"The one thing I love about Linc is that he's always believed in me, even when I had no work," he says. "There's something so nice about that."
It wasn't long before Lincoln's intuition was confirmed and Adam started to land roles in Australian productions such as Winners & Losers and Janet King.
His big break, however, came in the hit US drama UnREAL. A television show within a television show, it's a fictional behind-the-scenes look at a reality dating program called Everlasting, where men and women compete for the affection of a suitor or suitress.
Sound familiar? The show was created by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, who previously spent her time working as a producer on The Bachelor.
Adam plays August Walker in the show's third and fourth seasons. And his character, an Aussie surfer fresh from the Peace Corps, all good looks and heart of gold, has made waves on and off screen. From his first screen test in Sydney to filming the show in Vancouver, it's been a rapid rise for the actor.
"I got the audition and then two months later I was on set – it was surreal," he recalls, a hint of awe in his voice. "My first scene was in a car, and when they cued my character, all I could think was, 'Oh, my God – I'm about to step into this TV show I've been watching back in Australia.'"
With UnREAL now finished, Adam is playing his cards close to his chest when it comes to what's next. But he does say he'll pursue his passion for interesting characters and great writing.
"I'm not trying to sound generic, but working on UnREAL was such a privilege," he says. "It's such a well-written show, so I just want to continue that."
There's no doubt his down-to-earth attitude, rugged good looks and talent make him one to watch. His role as August alone has secured his status as one of Hollywood's new hunks, but it's clear fame won't be going to Adam's head.
"People recognise me now, so there is that," he says with a shrug and a laugh. "But it's not crazy. I'm no Tom Cruise!"
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