By Darren Cartwright, National Entertainment Writer
(Australian Associated Press)
Actor Samuel Johnson says Molly Meldrum got emotional during a preview screening of the biopic TV mini-series Molly.
Johnson plays Meldrum in the Seven Network production and says he spent more time watching the reaction of the Countdown veteran than the two-part series late last year.
When the lights came on, Meldrum turned to Johnson and gave him a brutally honest review.
“I was totally terrified. My biggest fear was that he would turn to me and say `what the f*** were you thinking?’,” Johnson told AAP.
“I didn’t watch much of it because I was too busy fretting about he was feeling. He got quite emotional at times.
“Luckily, I got the nod afterwards and he said `I did a superb job’. Now I just have to convince the rest of the country.”?”
Johnson said the Molly miniseries does as well as can be expected to separate Meldrum from the music.
There’s references to a number of huge celebrities but what he would have liked to have seen included is more about Meldrum’s intimate relationships with both men and women.
“It’s not as much as I’d like. I was very interested in that side of his life. We explore it but it’s not the show’s main focus,” he said.
“He was engaged to be married and always had women in his life. He’s a humanist and he is not gender specific with who he loves.”
Meldrum became a household name after presenting the ABC TV iconic music show Countdown, which became a Sunday night institution, for 14 seasons.
Yet Johnson never watched the show when it originally aired because his father despised TV.
“It’s not a generational or age thing, because I was born in 1978. I was raised without a television so even if I wanted to watch it I couldn’t have,” the 37 year old said.
“My dad was an intellectual snob.”
Johnson “buried his father” six years ago but not before he saw him appear as a writer in the popular drama The Secret Life Of Us.
“The irony wasn’t lost on my father. He raised me without a television to be a writer and I ended up on television playing a writer.”
Now playing Meldrum, Johnson said it was much harder portraying a well known and living identity than when he appeared on stage as WWII Australian hero Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop who died in 1993.
“There is a lot of heat. I played Weary Dunlop on stage and he had been dead for a while, so the pressure wasn’t as great,”Johnson said.
“A lot of people know Molly so intimately, so if you get it wrong everyone will know.”
* Molly premieres Sunday, February 7 at 8.30pm on the Seven Network.