Matthew Newton is a critically-acclaimed Australian actor, writer, director,
and singer, best known for his role as Terry Clark on Underbelly, a television series described as the country’s "best ever crime drama” by The Daily Telegraph.
Born in Melbourne, Newton began acting as a child. He starred in the children’s television series Sugar and Spice, and the situation comedy Late for School, and took on leading guest roles on numerous television shows throughout his high school years such as the drama series The Flying Doctors. During that time, Newton avoided any fulltime acting engagements, choosing to focus on completing his education at the exclusive Xavier College.
He was then accepted into Sydney’s prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art, from which he graduated in 1998. While completing his last week of drama school, Newton was cast in his first feature film, Looking for Alibrandi (2000), as the ultimately tragic golden boy, John Barton. Based on a popular teen novel, the film adaptation received rave reviews and was a huge hit at the Australian box office. That same year, Newton also starred in his second film, My Mother Frank, opposite of Rose Byrne, Sinead Cusack, and Sam Neill, attending its world premiere in Official Selection at the Berlin International Film Festival.
In 2001, Newton stepped into the international spotlight as Jothee, the half-human, half-alien son of D’Argo, in the American sci-fi show Farscape. His international success continued the following year, when he played Armand, a vampire in the film adaptation of Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned, opposite Aliyah and Lena Olin. Around the same time, Newton was nominated for a Logie Award (an Australian Emmy) for his performance as David, a prisoner of war, in the television series Changi. The drama follows the recollections of six men from when they were young soldiers, held and tormented in a Singaporean war camp during WWII.
From 2003 to 2008 Newton continued to be one of the busiest and most respected young Australian actors, expanding his portfolio both provincially and abroad, starring in television dramas such as The Surgeon and All Saints, as well as feature films like the Bitter and Twisted, The Bet, and Blurred, receiving acclaim for his performances. Margaret Pomeranz, one of Australia’s leading film critics, raved about Newton in Bitter and Twisted, calling his performance “terrific” at its premier at the Tribeca Film Festival.
In 2006 Newton made his directorial debut with the award-winning film, Right Here Right Now, which he also co-wrote and starred in. Notable performances by the amazing ensemble cast made the coming-of-age story, which explores the darker side of growing up, the winner of the Best Film award at the Rebelfest International Film Festival.
In 2007, Newton received wide-spread praise for his portrayal of Nick Driscoll, a feature writer working for a fictional men’s magazine called COQ, in the comedy series Stupid, Stupid Man. It focuses on the lives of the magazine’s editorial team, mainly four male characters, and the women who work with them. Furthermore, in 2008, Newton surprised everyone by making several hilarious appearances on the hit improvisational-comedy show, Thank God You’re Here, instantly becoming one of the program’s most popular guests.
In 2008, Newton received his breakthrough role thanks to the wildly popular Australian crime drama, Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities. The record-breaking and multi-award winning television series depicts the rise and fall of actual Australian criminals such as Terry Clark, the head of the Mr. Asia drug ring, whom Newton portrays. Among many of the rave reviews he received for the part, The Daily Telegraph proclaimed that “Matthew Newton is sensational as Clark.”
That same year, Newton wrote, directed, and starred in the feature film Three Blind Mice, an Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film was honored with numerous international honors such as Best Screenplay and Best Film at the Thesaloniki Film Festival, the Special Jury prize at the Sydney Film Festival, and the prestigious FIPRESCI Critic's Award at the London Film Festival; a prize given for enterprising film-making (previous recipients include Woody Allen, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Jean-Luc Godard).
Among the film’s rave reviews, The Hollywood Reporter called Newton’s Three Blind Mice “a triumph for young triple-threat Newton…a breath of fresh air”, The Guardian reported the film as “a clever fast-paced comedy-drama”, In Film proclaimed “This is the kind of Australian cinema we should get excited about”, and the Sydney Morning Herald called it “a real surprise packet”. Newton’s star-studded Australian cast for the film includes two-time Academy Award nominee Jackie Weaver.
Indiewire stated that the film was “more alive, full of emotional precision and brilliant performances, than almost any movie I saw at Toronto this year.”
Here is a portion of INDIEWIRE’s review of from the Toronto International Film Festival:
“The reckless bon vivant Harry (Newton, who has the looks and appeal of a young Russell Crowe), the engaged-to-be married Dean (Toby Schmitz) and the moody, quiet Sam (a heartbreaking Ewen Leslie) arrive in their shared hotel room cracking jokes and beers, ready to spend their last night on the home front getting into any kind of trouble they can. The three sailors hit the town, swinging from lampposts (in an acknowledged nod to On The Town) and causing trouble before settling down for a drink. When Harry goads Sam into flirting with their waitress, Emma (Gracie Otto, who also edited the film), the evening takes an unexpected turn; Sam’s charms attract the girl and, after Harry and Dean find themselves fleeing a poker game and falling into a dinner with Dean’s fiancée and her parents, the sailor and the waitress’ date leads them to Sam’s parents’ house before they converge on the hotel room. In the meantime, Harry and Dean search for their missing comrade for fear that he may go AWOL; all three men carry a shared secret, and when it is revealed (cleverly, in stages, with each actor given a beautifully crafted moment to uncover themselves), the movie merely intensifies its emotions and its stakes, forcing us to constantly re-examine the men and their allegiances to one another.
For all of the film’s naturalism and pitch perfect understanding of male behavior, the movie is elegantly crafted; The script is brilliantly written without ever seeming “written”, the dialogue reveals things without ever once feeling like a “big moment” and all of the tension is built on the solid foundation of emotional clarity. We understand these men so well because Newton has done a masterful job of creating and motivating them, and he and the rest of his cast do the rest. But it is the film’s visual strategy, its careful use of characters in the frame that makes the story feel alive. Newton and his cinematographer Hugh Miller have done an incredible job of maximizing the power of every single shot, always using the proximity of the actors to one another to establish and dissolve the bonds between the men or to isolate the characters from one another (and their own feelings) when the truth is finally confronted. You always know where you stand in this film despite the fact that allegiances are guaranteed to shift (thanks to a well-plotted story). Excelling on every level of cinematic craft, Three Blind Mice is a really great film, a return to character and emotional complexity without having to sacrifice story and craftsmanship.”
In 2011, Newton starred in Face to Face, an independent Australian film about lies, betrayal, sex and bullying in the workplace. Portraying Jack, a professional mediator that helps resolve a case of a young scaffold construction worker charged with assaulting his boss, Newton was nominated in the Best Actor category for the Inside Film Awards. The film is an adaptation of a famous same-title play written by the world-renowned Australian playwright David Williamson that based his work on transcripts from real conflict resolution sessions. Urban Cinefile reported that, “Newton reminds us what a magnificent actor he is, oozing sensitivity and quiet authority …” while Movie Review called his performance “perfectly pitched”.
Over the years, Newton also proved that he is a hugely talented and successful stage actor in both classical and contemporary plays. His roles at the Sydney Theatre Company include Tony in Boy Gets Girl, Marcello in The White Devil, Mosca in Volpone, and Jan in the Australian premiere of Tom Stoppard's Rock N Roll. In 2007, he was nominated for a Helpmann Award for his portrayal of Irwin, a young post-modern teacher, in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s The History Boys. And in 2013, Newton directed and starred in a workshop production of Hamlet in New York City.
As a true Renaissance man, Matthew Newton’s many talents also include music.
Performing with trios and twenty-piece big bands, and every type in between, Newton has been working as a professional jazz singer since he was fifteen years old. Since relocating to New York City Newton’s recent projects included a month long residency at Bemelman’s Bar at the Hotel Carlyle, and playing various jazz clubs around town such as the world famous Birdland.
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