With a role on Lost a sign that his career may
increasingly be based overseas, Outrageous Fortune's
Grant Bowler tells Joanna Hunkin why he keeps coming back
Grant Bowler, who plays Wolfgang West in Outrageous
Fortune, turned down a role on America's Big Love in order
to stay with the New Zealand drama. Photo supplied.
It is hard to keep track of Grant Bowler's movements these
Talking from Australia, which is officially home, he has just
spent five weeks in the United States, filming Lost.
Next week, he returns to New Zealand to shoot Outrageous
Fortune for four weeks, before flying back to the States.
Bowler returns to our screens tonight as Wolfgang "Wolf"
West, a role he first took on four years ago when
Outrageous Fortune debuted on New Zealand television
and he was still a semi-struggling actor.
Now, with a recurring role as Captain Gault on the hit series
Lost, the offers are rolling in thick and fast.
But Bowler continues to trek back to New Zealand to play
career criminal Wolf.
"It's a running gag between my wife and I now, my inability
to leave Outrageous Fortune. It's just too good. I
should be off like a shot," he said with a laugh.
Just this month, the actor was offered a role, written
especially for him, to guest star on the HBO series Big
But it clashed with shooting Outrageous, so he turned
"I fell in love with the show. I can't explain it to you.
"Outrageous Fortune is better than anyone in New
Zealand realises. That's what I honestly think."
Bowler knew he was on to something special when he first read
the Outrageous Fortune pilot.
"I was backward and forwards to the US, I hadn't really got
"I'd read everything coming out of the States. I'd read
everything that was being made in Australia, and
Outrageous was better than everything."
After standing stints on established Australian dramas such
as All Saints and Always Greener, Bowler was
surprised by the New Zealand cast and crew's modest, almost
defeatist, attitude towards the series.
"When I turned up on the first day, the general consensus and
culture was, `It's great, and it reads great, but New Zealand
dramas don't rate.
"They don't last. It will probably only go one season. Have a
good time, enjoy it and that will be it'."
Fortunately, Bowler's instincts were right and the
award-winning series has gone on to garner international
attention, with both British and American adaptations in
"Good Behaviour, the ABC pilot, is a project that's
got an enormous amount of interest around it," explains
"People in the industry know that it's the show that came out
of New Zealand and it is quite special. It's developed an
Much of the series' success comes down to the cast and crew
working on the programme, who Bowler rates as some of the
best in the world.
"I actually think New Zealand crews and actors turn up to set
a lot better prepared than in Australia. They work harder and
they whinge less.
I think New Zealand crews and cast are still doing it for the
job, for the love of what they do, than for the industry."
Though born in New Zealand, the Wallabies supporter moved to
Australia at a young age and trained at Sydney's acclaimed
National Institute of Dramatic Art - a fact that did not sit
well with some local actors when Bowler joined the
Things came to a head when co-star Robyn Malcolm took Bowler
to a local awards ceremony, where a couple of actors, who had
been up for the role, had a go at the Australian star.
But Bowler makes no apologies for landing the sought-after
role and offers some friendly advice to the actors who missed
out: "Audition better".
Likewise, he does not think it is a bad thing that Wolf does
not feature in every episode.
"It's not entirely because I'm working all over the place.
Wolf wouldn't work if he was there all the time.
He's kind of like a player coming in off the bench. He works
when he comes in for impact but if you keep him there all the
time, he actually skews the series too much in one
Still, the actor admits it can be difficult reintegrating
himself after several months away from the cast and the
At the end of last season, Wolf made a surprise appearance at
Munter and Kasey's wedding - with his new girlfriend Sheree
"I'd been away from the show for nearly 18 months, and I got
back and had a new missus.
"Robyn and I are quite close and it was almost like getting
divorced. It was really, really weird.
"When they were both in the room together, I didn't know what
to do. It was one of those weird things where art kind of
bleeds into life."
Season four of Outrageous Fortune returns to TV3,
tonight at 9.30pm.
Who: Grant Bowler plays Wolfgang West.
Born: July 18, 1968, Auckland.
Key roles: Detective Ray Driscoll in Canal
Road, Captain Gault in Lost,
Nigel MacPherson in All Saints, Greg Steele in