May 30, 2014
From championing boyhood as fresh-faced tween Lockie Leonard, to playing Shire (that’s Sydney speak for Cronulla and its environs) stoner in TV series Puberty Blues, 21 year-old actor Sean Keenan has seemingly mastered portraying a certain Aussie surfer stereotype. And said surfer is raw, unpredictable and always within areach of a decent waves.
It probably helps that Keenan’s a keen waterman. He’s also one of the most laidback young actors we’ve come across. It’s why he’s a solid fit as a new face for casual outfitter and its latest campaign.
Next up is Australian blockbuster Strangerland, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving. In short: Keenan’s been very busy. And about to blow up.
We caught up with Keenan, and in a further nod to his easy going ways, he answered our questions on bogans, creepy tween fans, fashion and freaking out in the desert.
GQ: Obvious question, is Puberty Blues co-star Isabelle Cornish anything like the bogan she so convincingly plays in the show?
Sean Keenan: Well, she’s from Newcastle, so she’s surrounded by people she can draw on. So she can turn it on and off.
GQ: Were you a fan of the original ’70s tome before you joined the series?
Sean Keenan: Yeah, I really liked it. I still have the copy here somewhere – I was given it when I first got the part and was about to go in and read for the audition. I think [series director] Glendyn Ivin gave me his copy and was like, ‘Return it to me’. Though I’m sure they have copies on tap – but don’t print that.
GQ: Are there things your character, Gary, gets away with in the show that probably wouldn’t fly today?
Sean Keenan: Probably the whole, ‘buying drugs from a guy in an ice cream van’ wouldn’t happen [laughs]. All kinds of things – torching a car at the smoke stacks in Cronulla would get picked up by the cops pretty quickly these days. We’re far more policed now when it comes to this stuff, for the better or worse. That’s why all our parents go, ‘Oh, the 70’s was so amazing’. You could get away with shit.
GQ: Were it set in the present day, would Gary be on Tinder?
Sean Keenan: No, he’s going out with Debbie [Ashleigh Cummings].
GQ: Well played.
Sean Keenan: I’m not on Tinder, and I’m about as close as you’re going to get to Gary. So no.
GQ: Seems a lot of your TV fans struggle to separate you from Gary?
Sean Keenan: Yeah, they love him. At that age, you can get so lost in a TV show – I think it’s nice they can come home and watch it, and really immerse themselves. They’re very passionate.
GQ: You’re part of the new Marcs campaign, alongside five other young creative types. Don’t mind a bit of modelling, hey?
Sean Keenan: It’s good. The shoot was great and I was really happy. It’s kind of the first commercial work I’ve done. I went into the Marcs store and got my suit sorted for the Logies, too. I don’t usually wear suits – I don’t know if it’s my body type, but I find they’re always very constricting. But Marcs’ just really worked for me.
GQ: In the campaign, you’re described as “uncontrived”. Is that accurate?
Sean Keenan: I think it’s really nice they said that. I don’t try and be outside of the box or anything, but if I was to describe myself… oh, god, maybe, unpredictable? I’ve never tried to put a label on myself. I just try to be who I am, which is hopefully someone people take to. I try and be honest all the time, including to myself. Sometimes it might rub someone the wrong way, but hey.
GQ: Uncontrived and unpredictable. Nice. Now tell us a little about Strangerland.
Sean Keenan: I flew to Cowra [country NSW] about a month ago. I was supposed to stay for a day but ended up staying three weeks. So I was gone for three weeks with two days’ worth of clothes and I was pretty disgustingly dirty by the end – which is great because the character I’m playing is this skater guy, a local who won’t leave this small town. I don’t know how much of the plot I can give away, but it’s a really interesting story – Nicole [Kidman] and Hugo [Weaving] wouldn’t be on board if it wasn’t. And I think it’s the first movie in 15 years where Nicole has done an Aussie accent.
GQ: So three weeks in the bush – did you go a bit stir crazy?
Sean Keenan: Yeah, ‘desert crazy’. But I love those towns, and there’s some amazing spots out there and the places themselves are incredible. You just get a great feeling, it’s really cool. And the fact that i got to shoot out there was even better.
Puberty Blues Series 2 is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.