Don Hany is set to fly away with his new role in inspirational film ‘Healing’, a story of rehabilitation for both prisoners and birds of prey.
When Don Hany’s cheerful voice flows through the telephone lines it’s such a stark contrast to the rough and rueful Persian accent I’ve just heard from his lips on the big screen in Healing that for a moment I think I may have been connected to the wrong person.
When it comes to this particular Australian actor however, I’m just one of many in a long line of admirers that has followed him throughout his illustrious entertainment career. Hany’s resume reads like a TV guide page after starring in White Collar Blue, East West 101, Dirt Game, Underbelly and Offspring.
Hany has now taken on his first starring role in a feature film opposite fellow Australian powerhouse Hugo Weaving in Healing. In the film Hany stars as Viktor Khadem, a convicted felon who has almost given up on life and is sent to a low-security prison farm where he is assessed for parole. Weaving stars as case worker Matt Perry and together the two unlikely friends develop a unique program that rehabilitates’ injured birds and in turn, also rehabilitates the broken men who call the prison home.
“It’s not often that you get to take on a role and be part of a project that is not only entertaining but also sends a message,” Hany says.
“It took me a little while to get into Viktor’s head space. Thinking about his life and the reason he was in prison and doing my own research really made me rethink the way I view people in prison. There are so many different stories behind why these people have been incarcerated. It’s not all black and white to me anymore.
“It was an amazing experience to work with Hugo; he is truly an asset to the Australian film industry. He gives so much in every scene.”
In addition to crafting an emotional character on the screen Hany also had to develop a Persian accent and learn how to handle an array of birds that were on set as co-stars.
“I was so lucky to work with a Persian family who really took me in and helped me to learn the accent and about their culture,” he says. “I tried to strictly maintain the accent throughout the shoot but I’m sure it slipped a bit at times!
“We also had these amazing birds on set that I was able to work with; the main bird I bonded with was Grace. Grace was injured after being hit by a car and was not able to continue to live in the wild, much like some of the birds in the film. I had to build up a sense of trust with her, to get her to fly to me on screen.
“In the movie the birds and prisoners parallel each other. Both have been in captivity too long and are not sure if they can survive in the wild.”
Healing also stars Xavier Samuel (Twilight: Eclipse), Justine Clarke (Love My Way) and Mark Leonard Winters (Winners and Losers).
Don Hany will visit Brisbane on Tuesday 29 April for an audience Q&A and special screening of Healing at Palace Barracks Cinemas.