The Big Ten and Barry Duffield
Back in 2010, I started watching this little show on Starz called Spartacus. I love ancient Greek and Roman history, so it was a great fit. I was blown away by the story, the characters, and of course, became a huge fan. One of my favorite characters was: LUGO. A tough talking, rough and rugged Gaul with biceps and abs for armor. And somewhere along the line, I donated to a worthy cause and ended up SKYPE-ing with Barry. He was so down-to-earth and funny. Kind. It made me appreciate him as a person as well as an actor. Ladies (and gents) may I introduce... Barry Duffield!
1. Me: I read that you came to Australia from UK as a boy, and then settled in New Zealand. What was it like growing up in Australia? Is it really the rough romantic place we see in films?
Barry: We arrived in Brisbane in 1968 and it was already a pretty bustling metropolis, even so, it was still a culture shock for my family. Fast forward four years to 1972 and a move to Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, and now we're talking about the real outback with nine of the deadliest varieties of Snakes on the planet, Estuarine Crocodiles up to twenty-feet long, and just as deadly Spiders [seriously, I just fainted] - Rough and romantic, hmmmm, only if your idea of romance is based in S & M. Despite its ability to kill you in any number of ways; I love Australia with a passion.
Me: I'm terrified of snakes, so I chose a little bit lighter side of Australia's deadly snakes...still, I squealed...
Me: 2. You travel quite a bit. You recently went to Rome and came to the states. What was Rome like after your experience as an “enemy of Rome” in Spartacus? And where are your favorite places in the USA? What do you like to do when you’re here?
Barry: America, Asia, Australia, Europe, only one more continent to go and we've done them all, and I'm far from over the wanderlust. If I suddenly got to a point in life where money was no object I'd keep traveling with Susie, until we'd done it all or died in the process of doing it all. My will would state: "Cremate me where I draw my last breath and spread my ashes in the ocean or the nearest lake."
Rome was fantastic! Walking into the Coliseum was like stepping back in time. Spartacus sparked my interest in ancient history, so it was like a pilgrimage going to Italy. Our amazing guide, Alex Marriotti, put it very well, "You have more in common with these people from two-thousand- years ago than you do with the pioneers of two-hundred-years ago."
We'll always have Paris! We were blessed with an invite to RS3 in Paris and met with the Euro-Spartacus fans. That was a great experience. Then, Susie and I got to celebrate our seventeenth wedding anniversary on the Eiffel Tower, so damn cool! It's an experience we hope to repeat at RS4.
Rebels SpartaCon and the USA; the con that kicked it all off and the meeting place of Barry and Beanie. For that alone I will be eternally grateful to our gracious host, Kelly. Rebels SpartaCon 3 is coming up in April, so I'd suggest getting your tickets for this event. The meet and greets are an absolute highlight for me. I can honestly say that I haven't seen enough of North America to make a call on a favorite place, but I would like to settle in San Diego in the near future and travel a lot more of a country I have such a strong affinity for. [We'd love to have you state-side!]
Me: I just love this picture :) Thanks for sharing it with us.
3. Okay, I mentioned the Starz Spartacus series. I have to tell you I’ve been a fan of that show since it began in 2010. I loved your character: Lugo. The ending! The tears! What was that like being a part of that show? How did you have to prepare for that role mentally and physically? Any funny moments you’d like to share? I see you’re going to the SpartaCon in MD!
First up: I hope to make the Rebels SpartaCon, but as far as I know, I haven't been confirmed yet. Lugo was such a great character and I'd love to have seen the writers grow him more, but it wasn't Lugocus, hmmmm, nice ring to that title though. [I loved Lugo's character! He was so ready to battle anyone!] There were too many funny moments to recall, but two words will suffice: "Dustin Clare." He was behind most of the pranks. As for preparation; I was already a manic gym bunny, but even that didn't prepare me for Alan Poppleton's Boot camp hell.
Me: 4. You’ve walked that red carpet. Tell us what that’s like? Is it nerve wracking? Fun? How do you prepare for that kind of live experience? Have you even met anyone on the red carpet you were star-struck by?
Barry: I don't do "star struck." I've met a lot of big name actors and it's always come down to an appreciation of the work they do. But first and foremost, it’s whether or not they are nice people. An asshole is an asshole; regardless of talent, right? I think I could handle shuffling down a few more of those red carpets, but Susie's not so keen. I could feel her shaking as I held her hand and she bolted as soon as the interviews started.
Me: 5. I saw you took your wife, Susie, with you on the Starz Red Carpet for Spartacus. You two look really happy together. What a sexy couple! How did she conquer that warrior heart of yours? How did you guys meet?
Barry: Surprise, surprise, we met in Les Mills gym in Auckland. It was in 96, just before I started at the South Seas Film and Television School. We went on one date together and we've been together ever since. She is my sun and my moon, my heart. She is the one voice I listen too and trust above all others. She's a warrior in her own right, so I guess it takes a warrior to conquer a warrior. [Swoon-worthy!!!]
Me: All those cameras clicking and people telling you "look here" or "look there"...you and Susie handled that with grace! And yes, we can see you holding her hand. A true romantic. Your fans also want you down many more red carpets, for damn sure!
Me: 6. Okay, now for the furry love of our life, Alfie. I love seeing you and your dog. How did you get Alfie? What made you a dog person? What’s the funniest Alfie story? Does he literally go everywhere with you?
Barry: I was a police dog trainer/handler in the Royal Australian Air-Force for thirteen years. I guess I chose that path because of my love of dogs. When my police dog, Boots, died at the age of thirteen I discovered the true meaning of grief. I was broken. I think this loss and a desire to pursue my childhood dream of being in the entertainment industry was the catalyst for leaving the RAAF.
Alfie came along by pure luck. My dear friend Robyn knew of my canine history and suggested I become a guardian for a Guide Dog breeder. We met with the Guide Dog’s rep, Helen, and passed the criteria and found ourselves with a hump happy Labrador. [Hahaha! I just got that...hump happy. Haha.] Having Alfie on set was a huge plus, but he did gain unwanted pounds with everyone feeding him. He's heading towards ten years old now and retired from his stud duties. [Based on your pictures, he looks like he's enjoying the good life. Hugs for Alfie :)]
Me: 7. Not only are you an actor, but also a writer. Recently, you’ve published Deadman’s Land and Tandoori Apocalypse: Bombay Rounding. What made you want to write a comic book/series? I just read DL. Loved it. It’s not like anything I’ve read before. What made you choose the werewolf/WWII combination? It’s like Game of Thrones when you don’t expect zombies, but there they are!
Barry: I trained in screenwriting at film school and I've been honing my craft ever since. Someone a lot smarter than I once said, "You'll write your first ten screenplays and they'll end up in the bin." They were so right. The Deadman's Land graphic novel is based in the screenplay of the same name. I entered it into the Final Draft Big Break and Scriptapalooza screenplay competitions in 2013 and 2014 where it reached the quarterfinals in both. After doing so well, I decided to have it adapted by Steve Stern Graphic Novel Adaptations, LA. Tandoori Apocalypse is a four part graphic novel. My new GN, Hellion Rising, is in the works right now. All of these titles are under the distribution banner of Comics'2'Movies in Melbourne, Australia. [If you dig WWII stories and werewolves and don't mind a little "blood and sand" ...pun entirely intended... you'll love this graphic novel! Grab a copy at Amazon.]
Me: 8. You also have a production company: Dreamchaser Productions. You’re definitely a busy man. I see you’re working on a Viking project, as well as Hellion Rising and Hard Out. What can you tell us about these new projects? Any sneak peaks?
Barry: Because of the stage of development they're in the answer would be; no. We don't talk about anything that isn't funded and as yet none of these are. I can say that I currently have two TV series pitches going through the process and should know one way or the other, by the end of March. I'm co-creator, co-producer, and writer, on both. [Damn :) I guess we'll have to wait...]
9. Do you have any special interests or talents outside of acting and writing? Obviously, you’re a weight lifter. How did you get started on that path? Do you train by yourself, or have a workout partner/routine? How was it training for Spartacus? How do you find the time to stay on schedule? Any other talents you can share?
Barry: I am a total geek cinephile when it comes to film. One of my first jobs was in the projection booth of my local cinema. I collect antique movie posters, lobby cards, and other memorabilia. I grew up racing Moto-X and Speedway, so put me on a bike and get out of the way! I have a keen interest in martial arts and a basic skill set at best. I love languages and I'm currently immersed in learning Italian. I'm a Scrabble fanatic. I'm also a keen water skier. I'm pro-gun and anti-gun laws, meaning, I don't think any private citizen has the need or right to own a fully automatic military grade weapon and screening should be paramount. I'm not a bad shot by any standard. I was a competition bodybuilder and now I just train to stay in shape and screen ready. I train better alone, but I have had a few training partners over the years.
Me: 10. Final question, and it’s down to your philosophy of life. When all else fades away, what is the only thing that’s real?
Barry: "Nothing is more important than the love you share and the friendships you forge." ~ Barry
Me: Thank you Barry for sharing about your work and family life. It was so much fun working on this project with you. I wish you and Susie and Alfie all the best. We love you! #barryduffield #lugoforever
Barry's Social Media Links
This story is about a boy and his military dad...love and regret and second chances. Enjoy! And Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there :)
Chapter 5 Cat’s Cradle
Nick wore black pants and a black baseball cap to school every day because he was in mourning. He mourned for all the reasons that people mourn. Mostly because it’s too late. Too late for all the things you wished you’d done, but didn’t do. Too late for all the things you wish you’d said, but instead you kept silent. Too late for all the things you wished could’ve been, but weren’t. Sometimes people have too much time on their hands and they waste it. The phrase “too late” gets tossed around for everything that hurts our hearts, as if saying “it’s too late” was a medicinal expression that somehow cleansed the wound.
Too late came for Nick the day his father deployed to Afghanistan.
“Dude, isn’t your dad supposed to leave today?”
“Yeah,” Nick said as he lit his cigarette.
“Aren’t you going with your mom?”
“I’m not gonna see that bastard off to war. He’s always leaving anyway. What’s the point?” Nick took a drag of his cigarette.
“That’s kinda cold, dude.”
“No one asked your opinion. So, shut the f*** up.” Nick stubbed the red cherry end of his smoke into the asphalt. “F*** school today. I’m going to the mall.”
I was sitting on top of the auto shop carport where Nick and his buddy smoked every day before school. His anger tasted like black licorice in my mouth. I could hear Nick’s hurt in the ugly words. When they left, I jumped down to the dumpster, then to the alley road. Nick’s house was only a few blocks away. The time to help Nick was coming soon; I could feel it. I just didn’t know when or what just yet. I kept hearing his father’s voice, too. And that puzzled me.
Nick’s mother waited for Nick to show up at the house so they could drive his father to the base. Unfortunately, Nick never came. His mother took his father to the base by herself. Nick never saw how his mother held her tears back, so her husband would think her strong and wouldn’t worry about the family while he was gone. And neither Nick nor his mother saw the tears the soldier shed inside his invisible heart. Soldiers have to be G.I. Joe tough on the outside. However, you know by now that what we feel on the inside is far more important than what others see or think they see on the outside.
In the field, Nick’s father carried a photograph of his smiling six-year-old son. In the photograph, Nick wore a green and white uniform and stood with one foot poised over a black and white soccer ball. When the sun went down in Afghanistan and the heat radiated roasting hot, not blazing hot hell-fire, his father looked at the faded picture. Over time, his sweat smudged the clarity of the colors and spoiled the flat pristine paper with puckers. He didn’t care because the picture symbolized everything he fought for. He loved his son who ignored him. Someday, he’ll come back to me. He’ll realize I love him. Nick’s six-year-old smile branded his father’s heart with memories. I could hear Nick’s father every night asking for protection for the family he left behind. Nick never knew that.
After his father left, Nick showed his mother no mercy.
“Just because your father’s gone, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want when you want.” She shook her head in frustration.
“Whataya gonna do about it?” Nick snarled back, because he could. “Ground me?”
“Yes. And take your phone away.”
“I can turn it off, you know.”
“Go ahead. Then, I won’t have to worry about you calling me all the time. And nagging me.” Nick shrugged her off.
“I got your report card in the mail today,” his mother said matter-of-factly, trying unsuccessfully to change the tone of their conversation.
“You have three Fs and four Ds. What happened?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Shit. School sucks. Teachers suck.”
“That doesn’t mean you can just flunk everything.”
“I’m not flunking everything. I got Ds.”
“Quit twisting my words. Your grades are unacceptable, Nick.”
“Go to your room right now.”
“Being disrespectful. Your father would never allow you to—”
“He’s not here, is he? So who cares.”
“Get to your room!” Her eyes filled with angry frustrated tears.
Nick walked out of the kitchen. Instead of going upstairs, his mother heard him slam the front door. She leaned against the kitchen counter for strength as she made dinner, because her legs felt like rubber. The urgency of war took her husband into rocky hills and sandy deserts far away from her. She needed his help. I don’t know what to do with our son. I’m so angry you left me here to do this all by myself. That night, like every night, she cried herself to sleep. When daylight lit the edges of the curtains, she awoke, putting one foot in front of the other. Nick never noticed her resoluteness day in and day out. He missed each second she wiped her tears away so he wouldn’t see.
The dark day arrived when the dark blue car pulled up along the curb in front of Nick’s house. I sat on my skateboard across the street and watched as two men in military dress blues got out. I could see Nick watching them through the big picture window in his living room. The taller of the two took off his stiff hat and tucked it neatly under his arm. I could hear the footsteps timed in unison like a march on the wooden porch all the way across street. Nick opened the door before they had a chance to knock. They asked for his mother, so he hollered for her. The men looked at each other as if to say, Son, we could’ve done that ourselves, but they remained silent. Nick left them at the door and sat down on the couch to finish his turn at HALO.
His mother walked into the room and saw Nick playing his video game.
“What’s so urgent you had to yell like that?” she asked impatiently. Then, she saw the men at the door. She dropped her coffee cup on the hardwood floor, where it shattered like her dreams...into a million tiny pieces. All the tears she hid from the world flooded her heart like the Euphrates River floods its banks in springtime. Nick watched as a tremor shook her body to the floor like she was having an earthquake from the inside out.
He stood up from the couch and stared at her.
One of the men opened the door and walked in, because he was a man of the cloth.
He knelt next to the weeping wife, “Mrs. DiMitri, I’m sorry about your husband.”
“He was killed in the line of duty.”
“How?” Her voice was a jolting aftershock.
“He died in the rocky hills of a northern region of Afghanistan. It’s all we’re allowed to say, Mrs. DiMitri.”
“Oh my God,” she wept.
“He died a hero saving his fellow soldiers,” the man of the cloth offered, hoping it would lessen the wound. Then, he helped Nick’s mother up to the couch because her legs refused to move. The taller man handed Nick a faded picture. He recognized it immediately.
“Where did you get this?” Nick asked the tall soldier in dress blues.
“Your father kept it in his helmet.”
“How do you know that?” Nick’s voice cracked ever so slightly.
“I saw him put it in there myself.”
Nick just stared at the picture.
“Your father was a good man. He loved you very much.”
In the blink of Nick’s brown eyes, all the things he’d never said to his father rushed into his brain, choking off any words or feelings the way a weed chokes out a healthy plant. Nick remembered refusing to play catch with his father, because he wanted to play video games more. Besides, he’d told himself that playing catch with his old man was embarrassing. He also remembered squirreling out of hugs his father tried to give him, because it wasn’t cool to hug anyone except a girlfriend. He remembered, suddenly, that he couldn’t remember the last time he said “I love you” to his father.
In a second, some people blink the most important moments of their life away and everything after becomes “too late.” So, Nick wore black to school every day after his father died. People whispered about how quiet he was now. He shunned his smoking buddies, even as he shunned himself. His friends and teachers believed Nick was sad because his father died. Our entire town read about it in the newspaper. But I knew different. Nick’s regrets were suffocating the light out of him.
Find out how Nick handles the news, and how Arabella helps him with his father... in Invisible Wings