Actor Alex Williams has revealed a very special moment he experienced while on the set of Nine’s major drama event, Warnie.
The made-for-TV mini-series will document the life and times of Shane Warne – cricket legend and cultural icon – and will premiere over two huge nights on Sunday, June 25 and Monday, June 26 on Nine and 9Now.
The late Warne or “Warnie” as he was affectionately known around the world, was truly a larger-than-life character both when he was wearing his #23 uniform and also while off the field. He also managed to retain the love of not only his family and friends but millions across the globe before his death on March 4, 2022.
During an interview with Mediaweek, Williams — who was transformed into the icon by way of a peroxide mullet and mannerisms — recalled how Warne’s number turned up on set in the most unexpected way.
“We had a nice moment early on when we were sitting down during the betting saga where he’s playing roulette,” Williams said. “I’m at the table and we had a real croupier there… so he spun [the wheel] and I was supposed to lose the money. So I thought, oh, I’ll just chuck all my chips on 23, which was his number. They spun it up, and the first take, it landed on 23.”
While ordinarily, this would have won the actor a lot of money, given that it was indeed a take, they had to cut and start again.
“But that was just a nice little lucky moment,” the 32-year-old said.
Another experience saw Williams spend time at the MCG with former cricketer Bryce McGain who was helping him with his bowling technique. The pair went into the training nets at the grounds, bowling for an hour or so.
“That was the net where he used to train, so that was pretty cool,” Williams said before adding: “As I was leaving — there was no one around, a Sunday — I was just walking back towards Collingwood and saw this young couple taking a photo in front of the statue of Shane Warne…So, I just sort of said, ‘Do you want me to take a photo of the two of you?’ So, I took a photo of this young couple… which I felt was pretty cool and just walked off. It was great.”
Alex Williams on the pressures of playing real-life people
For most of Williams’ acting career, he’s portrayed real-life personalities including Julian Assange in Underground, Kirk Pengilly in Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story Of INXS, Paul Onions in Catching Milat, and John Harvey in Peter Brock.
“I’m not sure what it is exactly,” Williams said of his pull towards the genre. “When the auditions pop up, I definitely circle them and go, I want to work really hard on this. I find them fascinating because there is an element of working with truth. And then you’re working back from that and trying to figure out what motivated each decision. What got you there? So, you’re sort of using your imagination within the real world of a real person and I find that fascinating.”
While the genre certainly has its drawcards, there is a certain pressure that comes with playing real people with lived experiences.
“It’s different with every kind of different person you play,” he admitted. “Sometimes productions are in contact with people or it’s an adaptation of a book or whatever. I sort of approached Warnie thinking there’s a lot of pressure to get this right.
“You know, he’s a national hero. He was one of my heroes growing up. So, the thing about external pressure is an interesting one because you try and just make it about the process right? I just kind of go, Okay, well, this is my process. As long as that goes well, I just don’t think about the external part. But of course, that’s really difficult. I guess the main thing for me was going, no one can put more pressure on me to do this job well than me. No one’s going to care more or make me work harder than me.
“Mostly the pressure that I felt was from myself. I really wanted it to work and I really wanted it to be good.”
Listen to the full interview with Alex Williams on Mediaweek and Chattr’s The Entertainment Hotline Podcast.
Warnie premieres over two nights on Sunday, June 25 and Monday, June 26 on Nine and 9Now.