Keiraville actor chasing that big break

You need a thick skin to be an actor. While the final reward for the few that hit the big time is fame and fortune, securing consistent projects before you make a name for yourself is hard work.

Ben Pfeiffer is relaxing in Wollongong before heading to Malaysia to take part in a feature film. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Ben Pfeiffer is relaxing in Wollongong before heading to Malaysia to take part in a feature film. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

This is something Wollongong actor Ben Pfeiffer is familiar with. The Keiraville-bred performer, who has lived in Melbourne for the past few years, says all actors need to be resilient and willing to take any opportunity that comes their way, because you never know where it may lead.

"When I first graduated my life motto was just say yes to everything. Really, that's the only way to operate, the only way to get people to know your face, know your work," he explains.

"In terms of managing yourself mentally and emotionally in a career such as this, especially in Australia where our industry is still relatively young, you need to always have some sort [of] creative project on the boil; even if it's an idea you can keep diarising about, it just sustains you."

Pfeiffer, 31, has experienced both thrilling highs and crushing disappointments during his time as a working actor. He has performed in countless theatre productions since his days acting at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre.

Since establishing his own company, The Artisan Collective, in 2009 he has acted in and directed pieces he found artistically satisfying, as well as dabbling in film and television.

But his big break has been wrenched from him more times than he would like.

During his final years at the Victorian College of the Arts, he auditioned for a role in the Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg produced miniseries The Pacific, but after participating in seven rounds of auditions was overlooked in favour of another actor because of differences in facial structure.

Then earlier this year he had another, possibly even greater, opportunity taken away when the big budget flick Paradise Lost, an adaptation of Milton's poem, was scrapped three weeks before filming began. Pfeiffer had been cast as the ivory angel, alongside well-known actors Bradley Cooper, Casey Affleck and Djimon Hounsou.

"The hardest thing was it was such a big break for me, but all those other guys were able to move on to some other feature," he says.

But by following his motto of giving everything a go, Pfeiffer secured a role in another feature film with a Malaysian production company which begins filming at the start of 2013. With the working title Chinese New Year, the movie explores the challenges that arise when English man Jensen, played by Pfeiffer, heads to Malaysia to meet his Malaysian-born fiancee's family prior to their wedding.

He hopes this film will lead to bigger and brighter parts.

"Even just to have a full feature film and footage of myself I can send to the US and make something of it and really milk it for all it's worth [makes it worthwhile]," he says.


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