Nick Hardcastle grew up on the Coffs Coast and was always doing drama classes and plays. His big break as an actor came with a recurring role on Home and Away and years later, after winning the U.S. Green Card Lottery, he moved from London to L.A. to continue his career. FOCUS caught up with Nick, who filled us in on his showbiz journey and what he is up to now.
What was the best thing about growing up on the Coffs Coast?
The Coffs Coast has the most beautiful beaches, hinterland and rivers. It also has beautiful people who were always willing to give me a chance whenever I expressed an interest in something. I’m still home regularly and always love spending time with my childhood friends and my family.
Where is your favourite place to visit when you come back?
I should probably say my mum’s place, right? I’m also “Uncle Nicky” when I get home, so it can be fairly dependent upon what my niece and nephew “allow” me to do!
I tend to head straight to 1st Avenue in Sawtell for coffee and to the beach or Boambee Creek Reserve for a long walk and a swim. I also really love the Promised Land and the Bellinger River.
How did you get started in show biz?
I was cast in a commercial in Coffs Harbour when I was eight years old. I did another one soon after and a bit of editorial and modelling work and then started at 2CHY when I was 13.
I was always doing drama classes and plays and worked with local theatre companies, including Bootlace Productions. When I left school, I was accepted in to NIDA’s Young Actors Studio, and my first TV job was as a promo host on Video Hits on Network Ten.
Since then you have had an extensive career in entertainment, from stage, screen, radio, music and television. What have been some of the highlights?
My first recurring TV role was in Home and Away from 1997-98, which opened lots of doors for me. Hosting Creature Features on the ABC was the best job in the world, and being a part of the World Premiere cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical is something I’m incredibly proud of.
Releasing my self-titled pop album was a huge achievement, and making my US Broadcast network debut last year on Pure Genius on CBS was very exciting as well. There have been so many highlights, but being able to work all around the world has been an incredible gift that I never take for granted.
How did you end up in L.A.?
I was living in London and having a difficult time staying there with my visa, when suddenly, out of the blue, I received a call from an agency that had been entering me in the U.S. Green Card Lottery. I’d won!
I originally thought that if I did move to the U.S. that it would be to New York, but when the Green Card finally came through, after five years of London weather, it was a no brainier to move to the L.A. sunshine and be on the Pacific. It’s actually an awesome place to live, but I do need to get away fairly frequently.
What is the Australian Theatre Company, and what led you to becoming a co-founder?
Australian Theatre Company is a not for profit arts organisation that shares the best of our Australian stories, talent, spirit and culture with American audiences through world-class theatrical productions and programs.
I started the company with Nate Jones, Josh Thorburn and Jackie Diamond in 2014 with our first production, Holding the Man. Our aim is to provide a meaningful cultural exchange with Americans while providing a soft landing for ex-pat artists, which has resulted in the creation of a really special community.
Although we do amazing work with incredible partners, we are still a very grassroots organisation, and it can be a struggle to raise the money we need in order to keep going.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m always trying to generate my own work and creative opportunities. At the moment, I have a limited TV series that I created with a friend being pitched. I’ve just finished shooting a trailer for a new series that is going to pitch and have an indie film called 12 Pound Balls out in May. I’ve just optioned a book, for which I’m developing a one-man show, and I’m working with Australian actor Hugh Sheridan to develop a live show.
I’m auditioning, I’m hosting events for the Television Academy, I’m going to class, I’m writing grant proposals and constantly trying to raise money for ATC, so that we can continue to grow. I coach content creators on performance and media training. Occasionally I sleep …
Wow. If you get any spare time, what do you like to do?
Wine. Mostly wine. Oh, and I love to travel! I am fortunate to have travelled around the world and create amazing friendships all over the planet. The travel I do is motivated by work, friends and family, food, or climate … and wine. Not necessarily in that order.
Who inspires you?
I take inspiration from anyone who is able to back themselves and has the courage to live their truth – whatever that is. Accolades, titles and financial status aren’t what impress me. My mum is still my benchmark for good behaviour – I always think just before I do something, “What would Mum think of this?” Then I do it anyway … ha!
What advice do you have for Coffs Coast kids who want to get into show biz?
The most important thing is that you love what you do. If being a creative or performing artist is what drives you, then take every class you can, join local theatre groups and look for opportunities to develop your own work. Technology has allowed us all to be creators of content and broadcasters now – so we need to start utilising it.
You also need to appreciate that this industry is not like any other. There is no single path to success, no corporate ladder to climb, no rhyme or reason as to why you might or might not book a job, and dealing with all of that takes tenacity, patience, persistence and a strong sense of self.
Oh and finally, as we say in the theatre, “Chookas”!
Where can people find out more?
If you’d like to know more about Australian Theatre Company or donate, visit www.australiantheatrecompany.org
You can Follow Nick on Instagram and Twitter @NickCastleHard or on Facebook @nickhardcastleofficial