Samuel Johnson (actor)

Samuel Joseph Johnson OAM (born 8 February 1978) is an Australian actor. He is best known for his roles as Evan Wylde in the television series The Secret Life of Us for which he won the AFI award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Telefeature in 2001, Leon Broznic in Rush, Toby Kirby in After the Deluge and as Molly Meldrum in the miniseries Molly for which he won the AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama and won the Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Television of 2017.

Samuel Johnson
Samuel Joseph Johnson

(1978-02-08) 8 February 1978 (age 46)
Years active1995–present
RelativesConnie Johnson (sister)

Since 2012, Johnson has led fundraising efforts for the charity Love Your Sister, which he co-founded with his sister Connie Johnson.

Starting out edit

Johnson was born in Daylesford, Victoria and educated at Wesley College, Melbourne. At the age of 14, he performed in his first school play, cast in a role as the mad scientist in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. On opening night he was spotted by Rhonda Schepisi, former wife of director Fred Schepisi. Taking the reins, she helped Johnson acquire an Equity Card and find auditions.

"So I figuratively got a phone call on the first night I'd ever been in a play. She marched me to the union and demanded that they give me a card, then she drove me to an agent and demanded they take me on. It was somewhat fortuitous and I happened to get the first 20 or so jobs I went for. This career was certainly not designed by me."[1]

Career edit

Television edit

Johnson's first foray into television started with small roles in various shows including the role of Prince Jobah in The New Adventures of Ocean Girl; as Sally Fletcher's first boyfriend, Gus Bishop, in Home and Away; and in other bit parts including Blue Heelers, Halifax f.p., Stingers and Something in the Air.

His break, however, came in 2001 when he was chosen for the role of the scruffy, womanising writer Evan Wylde in Channel 10's drama series The Secret Life of Us. Evan was a main character, also narrating the majority of the show (apart from instances narrated by Deborah Mailman's character Kelly Lewis). This made Johnson a household name and earned him an AFI Award in 2001 for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Television Drama Series.

The Secret Life of Us enjoyed consistent success up until the third series, when many major characters left, resulting in a drop in ratings. Johnson's character Evan (one of the last three original major characters alongside Kelly Lewis and Simon Trader) left early in the fourth series in 2004 and the show was axed soon afterwards.

In 2003, during the height of Johnson's Secret Life career, he received rave reviews for his performance in the mini-series After the Deluge. It follows the story of the Kirby family; their father Cliff is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, and relives his disturbing memories of the war and his first love, as a part of his experiences of the present. His three estranged sons Alex (David Wenham), Marty (Hugo Weaving) and Toby (Johnson) are thrown together to care for their father whilst struggling with their own lives and relationships and attempting to come to terms with their father's mental state.

Apart from Johnson's appearances on many Australian shows to promote his work, he has also featured on Thank God You're Here and The Panel as well as the ABC documentary The Sum of Sam; documenting his personal struggles and work with Open Family Australia, a youth outreach program co-founded by South Melbourne parish priest Fr Bob Maguire.

Johnson appeared in the police drama Rush in Melbourne, a drama revolving around Melbourne's Tactical Response team (based on Critical Incident Response-style teams). He played the role of communications specialist Leon Broznic; alongside Callan Mulvey and Catherine McClements who played Evan's girlfriend Carmen in The Secret Life of Us.[2]

In 2010, he made a cameo appearance as an old friend of Sarah's in the final episode of Wilfred.

In 2016, Johnson starred as Molly Meldrum in the miniseries Molly.

In 2019, he competed and won the 16th season of Network 10's Dancing with the Stars, with professional partner Jorja Freeman, and raised $50,000 in prize money for his charity Love Your Sister.[3][4][5]

Film edit

Johnson's first film role was in the 1995 film Angel Baby where he played Check-Out Cashier. Angel Baby was the tale of two people suffering from schizophrenia who meet at therapy and fall in love. The film was a huge success, sweeping the board at the 1995 AFI Awards.

Johnson is also well known for his role in the 2002 Mick Molloy film Crackerjack. Playing Molloy's slacker pothead flatmate Dave Jackson, the film enjoyed relative success winning a host of awards including Outstanding Comic Screenplay and Outstanding Film Comedy at the Australian Comedy Awards in 2003.

After leaving The Secret Life of Us in 2004, Johnson went on to star in the dark, black comedy The Illustrated Family Doctor as Gary Kelp, a man condensing The Illustrated Family Doctor medical guide. Unfulfilled in every way, Gary starts to develop the physical symptoms of the ills he is transcribing and his life begins to really fall apart. The film divided viewers and critics, with the film resulting in a love-it-or-hate-it divide and was nominated for a handful of awards including Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2005 AFI Awards.

Voice-overs and commercials edit

Johnson provided a voice-over for Vodafone, also appearing in their advertisements.[1] Early in his career, Johnson also lent his voice to commercials for Hungry Jack's, as well as a number of other brands.[6]

Radio edit

In 2005/06, Johnson joined Nova 100, hosting the 9am – 12pm slot. He was popular in the role but resigned mid-2006, several months after his girlfriend Lainie Woodlands died.

Theatre edit

In July 2007, Johnson appeared on stage playing a young Weary Dunlop in the playWeary: The Story of Sir Edward Dunlop. The play follows the ageing veteran after retirement, when he returns to the diaries of his time in a World War II POW camp. The action switches between the young Weary and his older, wiser self.[1]

Johnson's other stage credits include: Love Letters, Hotel Sorrento, The Present, The Snake Pit, Mad Woman’s Fountain, Life During War Time and The Pink Panther Strikes Again.

Credits edit

Television edit

Title Year Role Type
1990 The Bill Gareth Arnold TV series, 1 episode
1992 Whose Line Is It Anyway? Guest TV series. 2 episodes
1994 Ocean Girl (aka Ocean Odyssey) Robert 'Rocky' Rhodes TV series
1995 Home and Away Gus Bishop TV series
1995 Without a Trace Dennis Cole TV series, 1 episode
1995-97 Blue Heelers Dennis Cole TV series, 2 episodes
1997 Raw FM Adams TV series, 1 episode
1997-98 Good Guys Bad Guys Dermott Maginnis TV series, 5 episodes, 1997-1998)
1998 Wildside Troy Cunningham TV series, episode
1998 Jelly Babies Murray Best TV series, 1 episode
1998 Stingers Murray Best TV series, 1 episode
1999 Halifax f.p. Jamow Callen TV series, season 4, episode 1: "Someone You Know"
1999 Thunderstone Duane TV series, episodes
2000 The New Adventures of Ocean Girl Prince Jobah TV series
2000 Something in the Air Dermot Yates TV series, 7 episodes
2001 The Big Schmooze Himself TV series, episode #2.8
2001-04 The Secret Life of Us Evan Wylde / Narrator TV series, seasons 1-4, 41 episodes
2002 The Secret Life of The Secret Life of Us Interviewer TV special
2003 After the Deluge Toby Kirby TV miniseries
Thank God You're Here Contestant TV series
2003 The Panel Guest panellist TV series, 1 episode
2003 Rove Guest TV series, 1 episode
Australian Story: The Sum of Sam Himself TV documentary special
2007 Lonely Planet's Bluelist Australia Host TV series, 4 episodes
2008-11 Rush Leon Broznic TV series, episodes 1-70
2009 Beyond the Darklands Narrator TV series, 9 episodes
2010 Wilfred Sam TV series
2010 The Pacific Adam TV miniseries
2014-15 Gold Coast Cops Narrator TV series, seasons 1-2, 20 episodes
2015 Hipsters Presenter TV series, 6 episodes
2016 The Wizards of Aus Terry TV series, 2 episodes
2016 Molly Molly Meldrum TV miniseries, 2 episodes
2018-current Paramedics Narrator TV series
2019 Dancing with the Stars Contestant (Winner - with Jorja Freeman) TV series, season 16
2021 Eden Ezra Katz TV miniseries, 6 episodes
2023 Year Of[7] Tristan Kellaway 3 episodes

Film edit

Title Year Role Type
1995 Angel Baby Check-Out Cashier Feature film
1996 Inner Sanctuary Carl
1997 One Way Ticket Jimmie TV movie
1997 Bloodstained Angels Glen Rigby
1997 The Last of the Ryans Young Journalist Film
1997 What You Can Adams
1999 Strange Fits of Passion Josh Feature film
1999 Taken
2001 ICQ Eric
2001 Sparky D Comes to Town Stretch
2002 New Skin Sten
2002 Crackerjack Dave Jackson Feature film
2003 Shadowbane Voice Video
2003 The House of Names Cleveland
2004 The Illustrated Family Doctor Gary Kelp Feature film
2005 Hole in the Wall
2005 Ten Feet Tall Tim
2006 Dead Rain Josh
2008 $9.99 Dave Peck Animated feature film

TVC and voiceovers edit

Year Title Notes
2001 Pedders Voiceover
2002 TAFE NSW Voiceover
2002 Listerine Voiceover
2002 No Bull Tires
2002-03 Lovable Actor
Hungry Jack's Voiceover
Southern Cross Austereo Voiceover
Fox-FM Voiceover
Vodafone Voiceover / actor

Radio edit

Title Year Role Type
2005-06 Nova 100 Host Radio show

Theatre edit


Title Year Role Type
1992 The Pink Panther Strikes Again Dreyfus Adamson Theatre Co at Wesley College, Melbourne
1997 Life During War Time Howard Soup Kitchen Theatre Co at Athenaeum Theatre
1998 The Present Danny Rule La Mama Theatre at Carlton Courthouse
1998 Hotel Sorrento The Son Playbox at Merlyn Theatre
2005 Love Letters Andrew Makepeace Ladd III Parade Theatre
2007 Weary: The Story of Sir Edward Dunlop Weary Dunlop Australian tour
2010 Men Fortyfivedownstairs
2010 The House of Bernarda Alba Reg Grundy Studio
2011-13 The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell Fortyfivedownstairs & Lismore City Hall
2015 White Rabbit, Red Rabbit Pop-Up Theatre No. 3, Hobart
2018 The Feather in the Web Stables Theatre
The Snake Pit Harry Playbox
Mad Woman’s Fountain Harry Playbox

Personal life edit

Born in 1978, Johnson was born and raised in Daylesford, Victoria. He had two sisters, Constance and Hilde, all three raised by their father. When Johnson was a toddler, his mother died by suicide.[1] At age 11, his sister Connie was diagnosed with cancer, after a tumour was discovered in her leg.[9] She died in September, 2017 of terminal breast cancer.[10]

Prior to his discovery, his family were going through some financial difficulty. His father had enough money to pay for one of them to go to a private school for a term. "He chose me despite the fact that my sister had a better academic record. And by the end of the first term, I was earning enough to pay for the school fees that we couldn't afford. I was very lucky. I got an opportunity and I made the most of it." With the money he earned through his acting, they were able to pay off the school fees and eventually started their own family business, a chain of second-hand bookstores around Melbourne.

On 5 February 2006, his girlfriend Lainie Woodlands took her own life.[11] Johnson and Woodlands' mother Kim then endured a bitter legal tug-of-war for two months with Lainie's estranged father to bury her close to her chosen home and those she loved. She was eventually buried by Johnson, Kim, Lainie's siblings and many close friends.[12][13] Johnson took an extended career break to recover from the trauma and returned to Daylesford.

In late 2007, he began a relationship with Sarah Hallam, a casting director. They have known each other since they were 15. He stated, "I am really enjoying my new life. It is very different from the other one ... out in the 'burbs with my girl and her little boy, who is five."[12] They live in the outer suburbs of Melbourne with Hallam's young son, while running workshops for aspiring actors.

In September 2007, he was involved in a bar brawl at Star City Casino in Sydney. While attending a wedding with his girlfriend Hallam, he was involved in an altercation with another guest, Ben Benson. Johnson had repeatedly punched Benson before stomping on his head as he lay prone on the floor.[14] The court was told that at the time of the offence Johnson was receiving treatment for depression following the suicide of his long-term partner Lainie Woodlands. Upon leaving the court, Johnson was completely remorseful for his actions, stating, "I am very sorry it all happened, I was a bit of a nincompoop and I'm glad that it's all over. I'm looking forward to moving on". He was given a 12-month good behaviour bond, with Johnson to continue with his counselling, and no conviction was recorded.[citation needed]

In May 2008, Johnson gave his first interview since the death of Woodlands to ABC Television's Australian StoryThe Sum of Sam. He talked about the turmoil of the last three years – and his life changing involvement with Open Family Australia, a charity that works with vulnerable young people.[15]

As of mid-2019, Johnson was living in his birthplace of Daylesford, near Melbourne.[16]

In January 2023, Johnson revealed his personal rift with Molly Meldrum, whom he portrayed in the miniseries Molly and had known personally for 20 years. The rift began when Meldrum hijacked Johnson's speech at the 2017 Logie Awards, which Johnson intended to use to call attention to the Love Your Sister charity.[17]

Fundraising edit

In 2003, Johnson rode from Sydney to Melbourne on a unicycle to raise money for children's cancer charity Canteen.[18]

On New Years Day 2012, he and his sister, Connie Johnson, started the Love Your Sister charity, which supports the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

In 2013, Johnson began riding 15,000 km on a unicycle in a year-long attempt to break the Guinness World Record and raise $1 million for the Garvan Institute of Medical Research to find a cure for breast cancer.[19] His stated mission is to remind every Australian woman about the need to be 'breast aware', in an effort to promote early detection and improve survival rates, via his charitable foundation, Love Your Sister.[20]

On 14 February 2014, Johnson returned to the starting point of his journey, Melbourne's Federation Square, having travelled 15,955 km by unicycle, broken the world record for the longest unicycle journey and raised $1,477,630.[21] In 2016, Johnson was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to cancer research support organisations, and to the performing arts.[22]

On 24 August 2019, Love Your Sister reached their initial goal of $10,000,000 raised.[citation needed]

Awards and nominations edit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1999 AFI Awards Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama Wildside (episode 59) Nominated
2001 AFI Awards Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama The Secret Life of Us Won
2002 Logie Awards Most Popular Actor The Secret Life of Us Nominated
2003 AFI Awards Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama or Comedy After the Deluge Nominated
2012 Maverick Movie Awards Best Supporting Actor (short) Auditioning Fanny Won
2016 Order of Australia (OAM) Medal of the Order of Australia Service to cancer research support organisations and to the performing arts Won [22]
2016 AACTA Awards Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama Molly Won
2017 Logie Awards Most Outstanding Actor Molly Nominated
2017 Logie Awards Most Popular Actor Molly Won
2017 Logie Awards TV Week Gold Logie Best Personality on Australian Television Won [23]
2018 Australian of the Year Victorian Candidate Cancer support work Nominated [24]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d Bailey, John (29 July 2007). "Play it again, Sam". The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax.
  2. ^ Enker, Debi (28 August 2008). "Feel the rush". The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax.
  3. ^ Knox, David (24 January 2019). "Rumour: Dancing with the Stars cast". TV Tonight. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  4. ^ Lynch, Jessica (24 January 2019). "Dancing with the Stars 2019: First Celebs To Hit The DF Revealed!". 10 Daily. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Dancing With The Stars: Samuel Johnson crowned 2019 winner". 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  6. ^ Bailey, John (13 March 2003). "The secret life of Samuel". The Age.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "The Sum of Sam – Transcript". ABC. 26 May 2008.
  10. ^ "Connie Johnson, sister of Samuel Johnson, loses cancer battle". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Suicide shock". The Daily Telegraph. 10 February 2006. Archived from the original on 7 March 2006.
  12. ^ a b Bryne, Fiona (30 September 2007). "Samuel Johnson in bar brawl". The Sydney Telegraph. News Limited.
  13. ^ McGuire, Jess (30 May 2007). "S amuel Johnson Is Making A Comeback". Defamer. Allure Media. Archived from the original on 27 April 2009.
  14. ^ "Actor Samuel Johnson escapes conviction". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 18 December 2007.
  15. ^ "Australian Story :: The Sum of Sam". ABC. 26 May 2008.
  16. ^ "Sam Johnson: 'I've fallen in love with my sister's best friend'". Woman's Day. 6 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Samuel Johnson's extraordinary spray against Molly Meldrum in live TV interview". 17 January 2023.
  18. ^ Nguyen, Kenneth (8 January 2004). "One wheel, and a whole lot of magic". The Age. Melbourne.
  19. ^ "Herald Sun :: Actor Samuel Johnson to unicycle 15,000 km to raise $1 million for breast cancer research". News Ltd. 11 January 2013.
  20. ^ "". 2012–2013.
  21. ^ Sadler, Denham (14 February 2014). "Samuel Johnson raises $1.5m for breast cancer research in unicycle ride". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  22. ^ a b Fraser, Mark. "Australia Day 2016 Honours Lists - S1 - Order of Australia" (PDF). Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  23. ^ Idato, Michael (23 April 2017). "Gold Logie 2017 winner Samuel Johnson edges out favourite as Molly steals show". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  24. ^ "Samuel Johnson named Victorian Australian of the Year for cancer support work". 27 October 2017. Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.

External links edit