A new interview with Nathan Page on DI Jack Robinson.
Ahead of the Miss Fisher Con in Las Vegas that was held this weekend, Nathan answered some questions from fans in a pre-recorded interview. Following is the transcript:
The character of Jack Robinson is very different from the Kerry Greenwood novels. How specific was the back story you were given to work with? Other than the actual script, did the writers give you a sense of his full story, or is this something you were able to develop organically as the show and the character evolved?
The character of Jack was obviously fleshed out for the TV show as an ongoing romantic interest for Phryne but it was still very much flying by the seat of one’s pants for the development of the character from the outset.
I wanted to give my Jack a stillness and gravitas to counter the whirlwind climate that Phryne naturally creates around her. For me, it was important for him not to be thrown or dazzled by that atmosphere and to be the stillness in that storm. Funnily enough on set Essie has so many people around her; an entourage of costume assistants, constantly buzzing away, and with me, someone occasionally running past and jiggling my tie on the way to somewhere more important and in that sense it was pretty easy for me to fill that objective. In that sense, it was an organic process as the show progressed.
Many of us, as viewers were surprised by the appearance of Concetta’s character in ‘Murder and Mozzarella’, as it opened up many questions about Jack’s past relationships. Has Phryne influenced Jack’s confidence around women or is this something you’ve felt the character always possessed?
Jack was married for a time and of course there was the appearance of Concetta who was a low burning flame briefly… so I think he had a certain confidence around the fairer sex regardless. I don’t think Phryne’s presence contributed to that confidence, I think it was there from the start.
Jack is not flamboyant in his wardrobe choices, but there are subtle clues in certain ties chosen for certain scenes. As an actor, can you describe the way that costumes help prepare you for your role?
Many actors begin building the physical character with shoe choice funnily enough. Generally, of course, there’s more variation and restrictions to work with, with women’s shoes, however it still holds true for males within reason. The way one connects to the ground can be a vital clue to something greater. And I think a three-piece suit gives a definite feeling of formality and status, and I enjoy the limited choices that Jack has. It’s a uniform after all and it feels as such.
On the surface, Jack appears to hold conservative values yet shows through the series that he is quite progressive in his attitudes for 1929 Australia. How much do you think his role as an office of the law impacts his need to present a conservative front? Or do you think it is Phryne’s influence over the course of the series that inspires him to be more vocal with his progressive opinions?
Jack has to work within the confines of the law in and around 1929 so he can’t employ the brash tactics of Phryne’s crime solving. Having said that, I think that he’s reasonably progressive, anyway, he has to be if he’s to keep up with her unorthodox methods and he does just that by improvising with her. He’s the baritone notes in the jazz that the two create.