Matt Passmore on Lifetime's Family Pictures, Playing the Bad Boy, & Much More!

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The final Jane Green book-to-screen feature is coming to Lifetime Saturday, June 29.

Matt Passmore, who you know from Satisfaction and The Glades, stars as a husband torn between two women and two worlds. He's not the greatest guy!

We had a chance to talk with Matt about his role in the movie, the joys of playing a troubled guy, and his ABC pilot, Triangle. Get all the details about those topics and more with our interview, below.

One Woman Too Many

I have to tell you, it's so weird hearing your real voice. I never hear that here in America.

It's always a nice compliment, actually, when people ... they either take a step back, or they're like, "Wait, what?" Which is great, because if you can pick up that I was Australian from Australia, then I ain't doing my job very well. So it's always a nice feeling when someone goes, "Wait, what the hell?" And you go, "Thank you very much."

Matt Passmore as Mark on Family Pictures

That's true, that's true. So your character in Family Pictures is a perfect example of a guy who wants to eat his cake and have it too. How would you describe Mark's situation in the movie?

Yeah, it was really interesting after reading it on paper, and then actually going into these scenes and creating a realistic picture of this guy. The number one thing I was told going into this is that he is in love with both of his families. That was something that was stipulated to me because I thought, "Oh, hang on, is he just playing, is he just out for himself?"

And of course, it's creating that character who has deluded himself, really, into ... It's almost like getting so far down the road in a plan, that it's taken on a life of itself.

So in a way, it's hard not to see it out of his bubble of selfishness, because he's getting from one family that he's not getting in the other family, but he's getting that from this family. But then at the same time, he's running this road of fraud and with the FBI on his heels. So he's like this house of cards in my mind.

And of course, we see when one of those cards get pulled out from underneath it, it all comes crashing down for him.

Unhappily Married

Isn't that usually the way it is?

Exactly, yeah. He's just one big moral story to teach us how not to be a prick. But it's funny, because in those moments, I have to go for what he goes for and believe what he believes and what dreams and aspirations he has. So I was really just trying to take it down a road where he's just living one moment to the next.

And as the walls are closing in and the house is falling down, you just see that he never really had a plan. He's just almost just fulfilling his needs. He's also got that ... and I see it in society today, that selfishness of like, "I'm doing this for this family, and I'm doing this for this family." And so completely deluded and unaware, that really, he's just fulfilling his own selfish needs.

And when I think the rubber hits the road and he gets toward the end, and he gets stuck out again. I think that's when he goes like, "Oh, okay, I am this guy. I guess I am this guy." But I think he was deluding himself for many years. I mean, to think that he could get away with it in the end is just one huge delusion anyway. 

Matt Passmore at the Lifetime Summer Luau

It's crazy to think that there are real people out there who do this. There are real people whose families are exactly in that position; it's crazy.

That's what got me.

People would come out of the woodwork with a story of someone they knew that was living a double life. And I think there are a lot of us, a lot of human beings out there, that are leading double lives of a sort, whether it be they can be someone different at work, or it can be to a smaller degree.

This character, we just see it taken to almost an absurd level. But there is something that hits a little close to home, that as you start talking about it with people, they're like, "Yeah, I mean ... "

When you sense that someone's a little bit different in this circumstance, or in this environment, and then has to change to be somewhere else, or they feel that they can be themselves more over here than over there.

I think this is an interesting story when it's ... I mean, for this guy, it certainly is in an incredible house of cards that really we could all see was going to come crashing down. But I think there's a lot of us out there that dabble with this, either unwittingly, or dangerously conscious of.

An Awkward Family Picture

I would agree. I spoke with Elisabeth [Röhm], and she told me that she considered Family Pictures a comedy. Is that why you tackled it?

Well, I think that ... Well, there's an absurd fun in that these women are polar opposites. And the absurdity ... In a way, when I was going into this character, it's my job not to go in and hate or judge this guy. I go, "Oh, okay, so he found the comfort of living in everything with this woman over here."

And of course, kids are a whole different thing, once you've got kids, and that's different to how he is with his partner. But then over on the opposite coast ... And that's the other thing about the movie, it's coast to coast. He's got a life on the west coast, life on the east coast. And then with this other family, it's like he could be freer and didn't feel like he was so structured.

The real fun of this movie is watching those two women come together and interact and watching what happens when two people who almost seem as rivals actually start to find a common ground, and culturally different, economically different, but their humanity is the thing that draws them together and wins out.

Elisabeth Rohm and Matt Passmore at Lifetime Summer Luau

And what was it like working with Elisabeth and Justina [Machado] on set?

They're great, they're absolutely great. That's why sometimes we thought, "Wait, are we having too much of this comic fun in this?" because this is a serious subject matter.

But when you work with two beautiful people like that inside and out, it's a joy to go to work. And they're incredibly professional as well, so we knew the job that we had to do. And as an actor, I think, you know we're all there to do a job.

But it's such a joy when you're in a scene opposite someone and you go, "Oh, you're just a really great person." Listening and reacting off each other, and two professionals that know storytelling, and they know the story that we were there to tell.

Matt Passmore Enjoying Halloween Horror Nights

If you had your choice in playing characters, do you prefer the romantic hero, or the bad boy?

Well, that's the question, would you rather play the devil or Jesus Christ? Now, the devil's a lot more fun to play, but the other story might be more meaningful. I truly enjoy both. I find that often as the bad guy, you're able to have more fun.

A hero, I find, normally is under a bit more of a structure. Apart from a couple of Shakespeare plays, I haven't really found myself playing the straight hero. I've been either in the villain roles, or able to play more of an anti-hero, more of a sarcastic bit of a dipstick, that finds himself doing good unbeknownst to him.

So it's fun when you play ... The Han Solo character is always much more fun to play than your Luke Skywalker, because you literally get to have more fun, and then we as an audience, we are dying to see those cracks, where the selfish rogue unbeknownst to them have their hidden heart of gold.

So I guess it happens to be more fun to be the bad boy, and then in real life my wife makes sure that I'm the good guy.

Family Pictures Group at Lifetime Summer Laua

So you did really well in The Glades, in Satisfaction, that combination of you are the good guy at heart, but you can't quite carry out life without all of that extra baggage.

Right. I think that's real. There are those iconic hero roles that sometimes are hard for us to relate to. But it's someone that we as an audience can see their foibles and their struggles and their fumbling and their wanting to do the right thing, and they're tripping over and falling flat on their face, or just going, "Okay, I'm going to be selfish for a moment."

Those are the things that we as humans can relate to. The Dalai Lama is an amazing, amazing man. I've read his books and everything, but I can't relate to him, because he's on a level completely different from me. I'm just like, "Whatever you've got, you've got. Now, I'm over here in the struggle." So every character that I play, whether they are the pure villain ...

I mean I just did a pilot recently, and I'm playing the bad guy, but the most interesting bad guys for me, are just literally doing the best they can do on that day, just going for what they want and their needs. It just so happens that normally with a bad guy, that it's at the expense of other people, as opposed to lifting other people up.

So if you could give advice to Mark, what would you tell him?

"Give yourself an uppercut." No, I mean, look, I think it's a really easy thing to say, but incredibly hard in this life to do it, is just live honest. It's so much less work when you just live honest. Like, this guy's heading for an early grave. You can see his prostate is probably engorged, you know? with Stress and work, that he's got it.

And even when I was going back to acting school, and I had a mate that had a couple of girls on the tow, so to speak; it's so much work. It was exhausting just listening to this guy, and I'd go, "You know what? I don't get it. I don't see what the appeal. There doesn't seem to be many pros in this. You just look exhausted and frayed, let alone what's coming, because you know what's coming."

So yeah, if I had any advice, I'd just be like, "Dude, stick your chin out, take it on the chin, because it can't be any worse than the squirreling that you're spending your life doing right now."

Matt Passmore at the Lifetime Summer Luau

You just used the word, frayed, and I believe you're going to be in an Aussie TV show called Frayed, is that correct?

Yeah, this is based on a great comedian from Newcastle, and she's using her experience of growing up in Newcastle for this series, set back in the '80s, so there's mustaches and tight shorts all over the place. It was the perfect vehicle for me to go back to Australia, because it brought so much nostalgia back for me and just playing these really fun characters in a really funny short series.

Funny enough, I was shooting that, and then had a hiatus in between those episodes, in which I could shoot this Lifetime movie, and then I went straight back from there back to Australia, and had to stick my mustache back on, because I had to shave it for Lifetime and finish off that with Frayed, so that was a wonderful bunny hopping around the world doing what I love.

I just my hands pressed together in thanks for the end of last year. It was a real blessing for me.

Matt Passmore at 2014 TCAs

I look forward to finding that. And I understand you're also going to be in ABC's Triangle, is that correct?

Actually, I have to watch how much I can say. Let's just say that if it doesn't take the title, it's up there with the most expensive pilot ever made. So it's a real ... It was epic, and it's a doozy. We're waiting with bated breath to see whether it goes.

And we shot it in the beautiful place in the world, and you know I mean it when I say that, because I'm giving New Zealand props. And for an Australian to give New Zealand props, you know they got to be good.

Oh, that's where it was shot, in New Zealand? That's good, yeah.

It was Southern New Zealand, and that country is spectacular.

So this was the best pilot that you ever shot?

Well, yeah, this is where I can't ... I'm not sure much how I'm allowed to reveal or not. Let's just say it's on an epic level, that it could be certainly the biggest pilot ABC/Disney's ever done.

Matt Passmore at Halloween Horror Nights Red Carpet

Wow, good, good. Maybe it's going to be then next Lost.

There's lots of comparisons to that, and it's funny talking with the executive producers. They're like, "So when you describe it, you say, 'It's this, and ... " And they're like, "Yeah, but at the end of the day, we're Triangle." It's like, in years to come, we're hoping that people go, "Oh, yeah, it's like Triangle, you remember?"

But it was pinch-worthy, I think was the phrase we used a lot down there. We realized that we were in an incredible environment with an incredible story with an incredible cast, and everyone knew that this was just something special happening. So, you know?

Wow, sounds great.

We wait with our fingers crossed and hope that, that one swings our way. It's a huge investment, so we understand hesitation when it comes to this.

Do you ever have time, you're awfully busy, to watch television, or movies?

Well, this is funny, because on paper, I look like I'm completely out of my brain. But I also have a very strong working-class chip on my shoulder, and that thing needs to be fed daily. So I would love to be a lot busier, but I fill up my life with my family and everything like that. But on paper, it looks like I just don't have a moment to spare.

But, oh, my God, I've just gone back and re-watched the entire Deadwood series. I'm a huge fan of television, so when there's something that really grabs my interest, I'll watch that thing like any other audience member out there, sit back with some popcorn and just gorge myself on it.

Festive Matt Passmore

That's great. So you watched all of Deadwood, have you watched anything that's been ... I know the movie was just out, but recent? Have any of the newer series caught your attention?

Oh, constantly. It's funny, because I move from one to the next, and then I completely forget the ones that I've watched. But The Haunting On Hill House, I think that was a while back. We just went back all over Game of Thrones. My wife and I came to the series and went, "Oh, let's go back to all that again."

What else? Altered Carbon, I just went back and watched it again. So yeah, there's always something. I'm always looking for the next documentary as well. Well, I like a good documentary. The Planet Earth ones are fantastic and the environment.

And then I'm a total sucker for all the rock docos, Breaking the Band is a great one at the moment, where you go through Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses, all the bands that I grew up with, and hear all those stories, so that's where I get my mindless entertainment is watching a rock band fall apart.

Matt Passmore Standing Up for Cancer

I grew up with those same bands. Did you watch that goofy movie from Netflix that's based on Motley Crue?

Absolutely, absolutely. A friend of mine's been working with that other Aussie actor right now, on Danger Close, that plays Vince in that. And I was a huge fan of that book. I love those books, Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis for Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Dirt.

And so, yeah, it was really interesting to watch that movie and see some bits that I thought surprisingly translated well, and other bits, it was like, "Oh, that's obviously so much better in my imagination rather than in a television movie." But I expected that to be a disaster, and I was pleasantly surprised how much fun they injected into that when it could have gone really dark.

Right, it was. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot like the '80s, just bordering on cheesy.

And the birth of the Sunset Strip as being the mecca for sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I was just with bunch of band members last night, different musicians, and I was just talking about how there is still a hangout at Whiskey and the Roxy, but these days they're leaving. I think they're being sold.

The Viper Room just got sold, and it was one of the last vestiges of that era, that Motley Crue more or less created, soiled. And that's a real shame, because I know when I first ... I first traveled here as a kid in '97, that's one of my first backpacking trips, and got on Sunset Strip and went, "Dude, Viper Room, Whiskey-A-Go-Go. This is where my favorite bands' marriages broke up." So it's interesting.

Yeah, and that's about the same time I went for the first time too. It was still exciting and still something, and you could still run into people if you were just a nobody.

And now, in fact, a friend invited me, because he said, "Dude ... " He was mentioning a couple of musicians who were just always hanging at The Viper Room, just still hanging on.

But it's maybe got one generation left. Yeah, time moves on. No one can stop the tide of time, but it was certainly a fantastic novelty for me when I got into town, and I'm walking Sunset Strip and down to The Guitar Center, and all that kind of jazz.

And do you have anything else coming up that I'm unaware of, that we should know about?

No. I mean, at the moment, I'm contracted. But I'm on the waiting treadmill as I call it, so that means a lot of hiking for me. And we just still have our fingers crossed that maybe we'll be headed back to New Zealand. But no, so I'm not exactly a free agent at the moment.

That makes sense. Yeah, you're just hanging on and waiting for the word.

Yeah, but I can't wait to see Frayed. I can't wait to see what this pilot looks like, and I've been working really hard on it. It's pretty amazing that Disney's taking a big risk like this while there's so much transition happening at ABC and Fox and all that kind of stuff.

I was thinking it's giving a lot of kudos to them, like, "That's a ballsy move while you guys are going through all this stuff, to maybe really try and make a flagship type show." So yeah, we have our hands together and eyes looking skyward.


Be sure to tune into Lifetime tonight at 8/7c to catch Family Pictures. We should have a review for you following the airing.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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