Entertainment

Actors deliver words of strength about Australia's history

The group of Aussie actors who star in the History Channel special The People Speak.
The group of Aussie actors who star in the History Channel special The People Speak. Nick Wilson - Foxtel

AN ESTEEMED group of film, television and stage actors have united for The History Channel's special TV event.

Hosted by author Thomas Keneally, The People Speak features 25 actors and musicians delivering the letters, songs and speeches of rebels, visionaries and protesters from Australia's rich democratic past.

Sam Worthington, David Wenham, Ryan Kwanten, Rebecca Gibney and Jack Thompson are just some of the big names who take part in impassioned performances.

The People Speak - The History Channel - Sunday at 6.30pm Qld, 7.30pm NSW.

The two-hour special is inspired by the American format created by actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in 2009, when A-listers including Morgan Freeman, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder and Josh Brolin performed crucial moments in America's history.

Chandon Pictures and Paper Giants star Rob Carlton said he didn't have to think twice about participating in the readings, performed in front of a studio audience at Sydney's historic Carriageworks.

"I'm interested in history and the way it shapes our sense of self and obviously being story tellers, we're always leaning on the days that come before us," he said.

"Then there was the way they were going to stage it at the Carriageworks at Redfern as a one-night event. It just felt really special. When I found out the other people who had agreed to do it, then that turned the filming evening into something special."

Carlton said there was a "nervous energy" backstage among the actors.

"Everyone was anxiously pacing before their speeches," he said.

"It's a different performance style. We hadn't memorised the speeches, we were reading the speeches.

"It was like a performed reading, and so when you take actors out of their comfort zones there's a nervous energy."

In the introduction to the special, Carlton describes democracy as "self-correcting", which is something he says stems from the fundamental principle of transparency in democracy.

"Humans will always err and break the rules. People will act in self-interest and not the interests of everybody," he said.

"That's where democracy can step in and correct these things when they get out of hand.

"It reinvents itself every few years. We get to go to the ballot box and say 'we've had a bit of that, some of it was good and some of it was bad'.

"With the democratic process comes freedom of speech, and through that we can tap at the edges of the institutions that guide us."

Both of Carlton's readings are from the 1800s.

The first is colonial leader William Charles Wentworth making the case for the Emancipist Party.

"Wentworth was a libertarian. He was ahead of his time in terms of his thinking," he said.

"He was a man for all seasons; he was quite incredible."

His second reading could not be more different. It's an excerpt taken from Governor Gawler's 1838 speech about how Aboriginal people should imitate white men to assimilate into society.

"While I have every reason to believe his intentions were good, he perhaps wasn't quite as aware of the ramifications," Carlton said.

"The words are slightly villain-esque in a modern reading. No one wakes up and says 'I'm going to be a villain'.

"I believe he was trying to be as helpful as he possibly could, and I play it like that."

Topics:  actors, australia, history, history channel, tv show



Cycle Challenge offering an historic ride

The Coffs City Rotary Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge is being held this year on the weekend of August 13 and 14.

'Old' highway the route for this year's Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge

Coffs model is Face of Origin

STUNNING: Tahlia Hall (second left) of Coffs Harbour was named the NSW winner of the Face of Origin 2016.

Coffs beauty is Face of Origin

Turning wine into water during Dry July

DRY JULY: As a participant in this annual fund raiser for cancer patients, Jo Symons has happily swapped alcohol for water.

Turning wine into water during Dry July

Latest deals and offers

Day 2 Splendour Pictures

Sticky Fingers perform at Splendour in the Grass 2016. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Splendour in the Grass Day 2 covered in pictures.

WATCH: News reader tries her hand at hardcore shooter, Doom

Veteran journo and noob gamer takes a shot at Doom

What's on the small screen this week

MasterChef Australia's final four contestants, from left, Harry Foster, Elena Duggan, Elise Franciskovic and Matt Sinclair.

MASTERCHEF makes way for The Bachelor on Ten's reality TV slate.

Guy Sebastian a hit at Splendour in the Grass

Guy Sebastian performs at Splendour in the Grass with Paces.

REALITY TV judge a hit with festival crowd.

Superheroes of the big screen enjoy sounds of Splendour

CHRIS Hemsworth and his Avengers mates drop by Byron festival.

Dynamic pics from Splendour Day 1

The Strokes perform at Splendour in the Grass 2016. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Check out the latest pictures from Splendour in the Grass.

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

A home rich in history looking for a new owner

HISTORY: The circa 1920s home is being sold for the first time in 90 years.

Circa 1920s home being sold for the first time in 90 years