John Waters

Australia - Vic

John Waters is one of Australia's most recognised and respected film and theatre actors. Son of Scottish actor Russell Waters, John’s childhood was spent around film studios and appearing in minor roles. Arriving in Australia in 1968 he was cast in the US film Adam's Woman, landed the lead role of Claude in the 1969 production of rock musical, Hair alongside Marcia Hines, and later the role of Judas in Godspell. This quickly led to a flourishing career on stage, film, and television with ABC TV's Rush in 1974 earning him a Logie Award for Best New Talent, and quickly followed by films such as End Play, Summerfield, Breaker Morant, All the Rivers Run, Nancy Wake and Alice to Nowhere. From 1972 he hosted the children’s ABC program Play School for a decade, and regularly appeared until 1991, endearing him to generations.

John won an AFI Award in 1988 for the film Boulevard of Broken Dreams and starred in They're Playing Our Song with Jackie Weaver. My Fair Lady, Hunting of the Snark, A Little Night Music, Love Letters at the Sydney Opera House, Children of a Lesser God, Oliver, The Woman in Black, The Sound of Music and The Rocky Horror Show are just some of his acclaimed roles. He starred in the 1992 concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar alongside John Farnham, Kate Ceberano, Jon Stevens, and Angry Anderson.

With musical collaborator Stewart D’Arrietta, he wrote, produced, and starred in the theatre production, Looking Through a Glass Onion, touring nationally and internationally for 30 years, including a season in London’s West End, an award-nominated run in New York City and seasons in Edinburgh, Tokyo and Liverpool. He currently performs around Australia with The John Lennon Songbook, in Radio Luxembourg – the story of the British Pop Invasion, and in Le Chanson de Jacques Brel.

John has appeared in many television series, including Good Guys Bad Guys, The Man from Snowy River, All Together Now and Young Lions. Later television credits include All Saints (2006-2009), the hugely successful hit Offspring (2010–2014), Rake (2016), Mystery Road (2018) and the fifth and final season of Doctor Doctor (2021). He starred in the UK/Australia co-produced series The End (2020) alongside Dame Harriet Walter and was recently featured in the 2023 season of the SBS’s Who Do You Think You Are. John is currently onscreen as the magistrate in Del Kathryn’ Barton’s courtroom drama Blaze.

Speaking topics

Tales from a life in Australian film, television, and theatre.

John was born the son of a Scottish actor and began acting at an early age. Taking Australia by storm from the late 60s, his long and still thriving career is full of stories and anecdotes. A highly entertaining presentation about the turbulent life, loves and career perils and successes of one Australia’s most iconic and recognisable performers.

Kicking Down Doors

To succeed in the volatile world of film, television, and theatre, having talent and a dream are never enough. To survive and thrive in the cutthroat world of entertainment requires bravery, true grit and more than a dose of daring. In this motivating speech John talks about the pitfalls and triumphs, and the confidence and conviction in oneself needed to kick down the doors to opportunity. More than musings of a famous star, John’s journey and wisdom gained along the way provide insights and inspiration for all walks of life.

Steps and Stones

After long and complicated battles with addiction, John’s time in rehab transformed his life. John is one of Australia’s most beloved and recognisable stars of stage and screen, and in this presentation shares his journey from rehab, to AA, and two decades of sobriety. He explores what resilience and courage really mean each day of a lifelong journey with humour, pathos, and a searing authenticity.

John Waters speaker

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