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STREET SMART: Jim Schembri’s interview with Indigenous actor Mark Coles Smith

STREET SMART – Our special interview with indigenous actor Mark Coles Smith, star of Pawno & Last Cab to Darwin  

In Last Cab to Darwin, Melbourne-based actor Mark Coles Smith played Tilly, the likeable, cheeky blackfella who helps the terminally ill cab driver Rex (Michael Caton) get to Darwin so he can legally kill himself. It was a deeply impressive performance that drew plenty of attention.

Though Mark was nominated for an AACTA ward for best supporting actor, he didn’t win. It didn’t really seem to matter much, though.

Stealing much of the film from Michael Caton, who won best actor, Mark’s performance in the hugely successful film let the wider public know what a lot of local and international producers already knew – that he is a talent to keep tabs on.

In the new local independent film Pawno, Mark plays a wise-cracking street guy who hustles for a living. Set in Footscray, he’s part of a large ensemble of diverse characters in a well-made film written by Damian Hill and directed by Paul Ireland.

A big fan of preparation, Mark spent time on the streets hustling, begging for change and learning the lingo.

Harking from Broome, Western Australia, Mark, 29, began as a teen actor in the 2003 series Ocean Star and had major roles in The Circuit, The Gods of Wheat Street and Old School. He also played the lead role in the recent Australian online TV sci-fi series Airlock and was part of the cast of the Canadian series Hard Rock Medical.

On the Street: Mark Coles Smith in Pawno.

On the Street: Mark Coles Smith in Pawno.

He is presently appearing in the brand-new sci-fi series Hunters, an American show shot in Melbourne and produced by Gale Anne Hurd, who made Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss and The Walking Dead

Mark is a thoughtful, highly articulate young gun with a big smile, a warm presence, plenty on his mind and a lot to say.

He was kind enough to come in for an extended video chat about films, acting, his motives, love of research, his developing career and his thrill at finally learning how to budget properly between acting gigs.

As he says, being indigenous makes it almost impossible to ignore politics and the treatment of indigenous people and culture.

Mark holds some strong opinions and he caused quite a buzz last year when he posted a video on Facebook replying to (then) Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s remarks about how living in remote communities is a ‘lifestyle choice’.

To his credit, and perhaps signalling his desire to be a director, Mark didn’t get angry. He just spoke his mind. The video went viral. (See below)

Mark proved a very engaging interview. Please grab a cup of your favourite beverage, sit back and enjoy.

For easy viewing, this interview is divided into three parts. Links to parts 2 & 3 can be found at the end of the first part. There’s also a link to an interview with the writer and director of Pawno.  


Watch our special interview with Mark here:


View a trailer of Pawno here:


Watch Mark’s response video to Tony Abbott here: