Dan Ewing talks action flick ‘Occupation’

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There was a boy, born and raised in New South Wales, who was obsessed with movies, then later became a television heartthrob. For most kids, these might be distractions. For Dan Ewing, they were tools he’d someday use to reshape his astonishing career.

Occupation, Ewing’s upcoming film as the gruff and rough ex-football player, is unlike any other Australian movie. It’s dark and action-packed and — if Dan is to be correct — won’t be the last time we’ll see his character Matt Simmons on screen.

We spoke with the actor, who’s had a 10-year stint as Heath Braxton on Home and Away, to talk about his year in film and why this movie is the one to reshape the tone of Australian features to come.

“The movie is basically about small-town folk who fight to survive,” Ewing told us. “It’s a story about these characters coming together after an invasion. Without saying too much — I really don’t want to give away too much what it’s about, it’s very under wraps — but it is, in terms of anything we’ve seen in Australia, it definitely is a must-see action film.”

The actor also talked a little about his character in the Luke Sparke-directed film. “I play Matt, who’s a depressed ex-football player,” said Dan. “Now he’s working at a construction site, and he’s really let himself go.”

He adds, “Physically I gained weight to become this character. I did my research, ate a lot more and interviewed former football players who generously shared their heartbreaking stories. As an actor, if I look ‘fit’ in every scene, it’s just not believable. You have to sacrifice a few abs to become the character!”

In addition to Occupation, Ewing can be seen in a few more projects this year including Chasing Comets and Harrow.

“It’s funny. You don’t need to be in Hollywood to star in great films,” he explained. “If you told me I would have four films released in 2018, I wouldn’t believe you. It’s insane. I have a beautiful 3-year-old boy and when you have a family, you raise them in Australia. Look at Chris Hemsworth. Our perspectives quickly change.”

Red Billabong, the first theatrical film from young director Luke Sparke, starred Ewing as the lead actor in an Australian outback setting. Two years later, their relationship continues to blossom.

“I love being around him and I watch everything he does,” Dan said. “The quirkiest director working today. It was good to team up again because Luke really develops great storylines and characters. This film is certainly a game changer for Australian features. It’s next level.”

“There’s a reason why American productions come here to produce movies. Not only for the amazing locations, but for the aspiring actors that beam with incredible talent and enthusiasm. As an actor, I prefer that.”

The film also stars Stephany Jacobsen, Charles Mesure, Charles Terrier, Temuera Morrison, Rhiannon Fish and Zachary Garred.

Occupation is slated for release July 12.

Patrick Tadros

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