Sep. 25th, 1952
Kilwinning, Ayrshire, Scotland, UK
Colin Friels' Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Background and training
Friels was born in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Scotland. His mother was a mill worker and his father a carpenter.He lived in Kilbirnie until 1963, when his family moved to Australia, arriving in Darwin, Northern Territory before settling in the Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows. He worked as a bricklayer's labourer before studying at the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), alongside actors such as Mel Gibson, and his future wife Judy Davis. Friels graduated from NIDA in 1976.
Friels career began with work mostly in theatre and television. In 1980 Friels was a presenter on the long-running children's series Play School. His first film role was in the unreleased Prisoners (1981), starring with Tatum O'Neal. The film was allegedly so bad that Tatum's father Ryan O'Neal purchased the rights to the film to prevent it from ever screening. His first actual appearance in film was in Monkey Grip (1982), an adaptation of a novel by Helen Garner, where he starred alongside Noni Hazlehurst.
In 1986, he played the title role in Malcolm, about a shy mechanical genius, for which he was awarded the 1986 AFI Award for Best Actor. Friels was also nominated for the Best Actor award the following year, for his role in Ground Zero, but did not win: the film receiving mixed reviews, with one describing him as "a proficient enough actor, but...miscast". Friels later won another AFI Award in 1995 for his starring role in the 1994 Halifax f.p. telemovie Hard Corps. Friels has played a wide range of other roles. He was a megalomaniacal corporate executive in the 1990 feature film Darkman.
From 1996 to 1999 he played Frank Holloway on Water Rats, a role which won him the Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actor at the 1997 awards. In his acceptance speech he said "I'm very flattered for this and it's all rather silly, isn't it? So, thank you very much."
Since 2003, Friels has appeared as the main character in the BlackJack series of telemovies.
Personal life and views
In late 1997, Friels was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and almost died. However, his treatment was successful and he is one of the very few victims of this disease to go into long-term remission.During his treatment he even continued to work on the set of Water Rats, until eventually the impact of the chemotherapy stopped him from working, and he chose to have his character written out of the series by sending him on a sailing journey around the world. At this time however, he also continued his stage work, and was performing in Sydney Theatre Company's Macbeth.
Friels has been married to actress Judy Davis since 1984, and they have two children, Jack and Charlotte. They were briefly separated, but later reconciled. The relationship was briefly in the media when an argument led to a court order against Friels – however they remained together at that time.
Friels believes that social and political awareness comes with the territory of acting, and is known for his engagement in policy debates, including industrial issues such as workplace relations and free trade.He publicly criticised Bush administration policy in the Middle East, and supported the Sydney Peace Foundation.His engagement with social issues has also been evident in his acting work, with two prominent examples being his lead role in Ground Zero, in which he played a cameraman investigating British nuclear testing in South Australia, and his appearance in ABC television drama Bastard Boys, in which he played union official John Coombs.
Monkey Grip (1982) – Javo
Buddies (1983) – Mike
The Coolangatta Gold (1984) – Adam Lucas
Kangaroo (1986) – Richard Somers
Malcolm (1986) – Malcolm Hughes
Ground Zero (1987) – Harvey Denton
High Tide (1988) – Mick
Darkman (1990) – Louis Strack Jr
Weekend with Kate (1990) – Richard Muir
Class Action (1991) – Michael Grazier
Dingo (1992) – John Anderson
Stark (1993) – Sly Morgan
A Good Man in Africa (1994) – Morgan Leafy
Cosi (1996) – Errol
Mr Reliable (1996) – Wally Mellish
Water Rats – Frank Holloway (91 episodes, 1996–1999)
Dark City (1998) – Eddie Walenski
The Man Who Sued God (2001) – David Myers
Black and White (2002) – Father Tom Dixon
BlackJack (2003,04,05,06,07) – Jack Kempson
Tom White (2004) – Tom White
Bastard Boys (2007) – John Coombs
The Informant (2008) – Doug Lamont
Gangs of Oz (2009) – Narrator
Killing Time (2010) – Lewis Moran
Blind Company (2010)
Matching Jack (2010)
The Nothing Men (2010)
Tomorrow, When The War Began (2010) - Dr. Clements
The Eye of the Storm (2011) – Athol Shreve
- Won the 2003 Best Actor-Play Australian Entertainment "Mo" Award for his performance in "Copenhagen," defeating, among others, costar John Gaden.
- Won the 'Peter Finch (I)' (qv) Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Movie Extra Filmink Awards in Sydney.
- Often appears in films opposite his wife 'Judy Davis (I)' (qv), including _Hoodwink (1981)_ (qv), _Kangaroo (1987)_ (qv), _High Tide (1987)_ (qv) and _The Man Who Sued God (2001)_ (qv).
- Has two children: 'Jack Friels' (qv) (born 1987) and Charlotte Friels (born 1997).
- Won the 2003 Helpmann Award (the Australian equivalent of the Tony Award) for his performance in "Copenhagen" (Best Male Actor-Play).
- Lived in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire Scotland until he was approx. 12-15 before moving to Australia.
- 30 October 2002 - An Australian court ordered Colin to not "assault, harass, or otherwise threaten" his wife, actress 'Judy Davis (I)' (qv), following a domestic disturbance.
- Colin Friels trained at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts). His fellow students, during his time at NIDA, included his wife, 'Judy Davis (I)' (qv), as well as 'Mel Gibson (I)' (qv) and 'Dennis Olsen' (qv).
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