In A Freak Show
by Elissa Doherty, The Sunday Telegraph (December
You could say he's almost famous. Actor Nick
Stahl rose to prominence as a teenager in the
early'90s after being hand-picked by Mel Gibson
to star opposite him in The Man Without A Face.
Since then he's had roles in the critically
acclaimed The Thin Red Line and, more recently,
Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines.
Still, you wouldn't exactly
describe him as a household name. And that's
just the way the 25-year-old likes it. "I
try to avoid the sweet-ass roles," he says.
He's certainly done that
in the ABC's stunning new 12-part series Carnivale,
a dark, eerie and complex period drama set in
the Oklahoma dust bowl during the Great Depression
of the 1930s.
Carnivale, which aired
in the US in 2003, opens with Stahl's character,
Ben Hawkins, witnessing the death of his mother,
and burying her in a shallow grave. Then, after
being taken under the wing of an odd collection
of freaks in a travelling carnival, Hawkins
realises his supernatural powers and becomes
embroiled in a battle of good versus evil.
While likely to have
niche, rather than widespread appeal, Carnivale
is being touted as one of the ABC's top shows
this summer, with a berth in the all-important
8.30pm Sunday slot. It will screen in six two-hour
The beautifully shot
series won five Emmys, including awards for
cinematography and art direction, but in many
ways defies description.
Stahl says he was drawn
to its darkness. "I thought it was really
unique," he says.
Series creator and executive
producer Daniel Knauf admits it was a tough
series to pitch.
"It's sort of a
joke, when people would come up to you and ask
what you were working on," he says.
"How do you describe
this show? I guess the flip answer is, it's
the Grapes Of Wrath meets David Lynch."