He is not sure why, but Daniel Lapaine finds himself playing a lot men who have had nervous breakdowns,
People often ask what draws him to these men, he says, but with the latest example the answer is easy.
“Leontes in The Winter’s Tale could be said to fall into this category - a man who makes a mistake and becomes obsessed and no one can persuade him otherwise. He’s a man riven with jealousy and that’s something to rationalise his way out of, except he is a king .
“He starts out in an incredibly happy world, Hermione is pregnant with their next child. They’re a golden royal couple and he goes and ruins it and no one can convince him otherwise. A bit of cognitive therapy would have worked wonders but that wasn’t available to him.
“I get Leontes,” he declares. “I don’t think what he does is right but I have an intuitive understanding of what he is about.”
Lapaine first made his mark in the 1993 comedy Muriel’s Wedding as the overseas swimmer who marries Toni Collette to get a visa.
As a modestly-budgeted Australian indie movie that has acquired cult status, “We had no idea that 20 years later Muriel’s Wedding would still be talked about.”
He has been in Britain for 15 years now. “But I am still proud of my Australian roots. My dad is Italian so I am not your typicfal Aussie but I get a lot of voiceovers in Australian accents. I’ve done quite a few of the Fosters adverts,” he grins.
So what brought him to Britain? “I went to America first and came over to make a film, Elephant Juice, with Emmanuelle Beart and then got another job and ended up staying. Then I got married (to Cold Feet star Fay Ripley) and had kids.”
The children are aged 10 and six and acting choices have to be balanced with parenting duties “We have to take it in turns but it has worked out well so far,” he reflects.
Lapaine jokes that latterly he seems to have played “a lot of red herrings in British TV crime dramas”.
“I have not done as much theatre as I would like but I’ve worked at the Royal Court and the Donmar and last year I did Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic.
Since being in Britain, Lapaine has not done any Shakespeare although he did a lot in Australia and was a member of the Bell Shakespeare Company, their equivalent of the RSC.
“This is a play that has the potential of all the Shakespeares to really move an audience at the deepest level,” he says. “It’s a simple story that deals with very accessible human conditions. It’s not clouded with history, you don’t need to know your history.”
The Winter’s Tale starts previewing at the Crucible tonight (October 3) and runs to November 2.