Kellygirl's Pop Culture Palace
DragonCon 2006 Interview with Tom Hern - Ram on The Tribe - Part One


T – Tom Hern

K – KellyGirl

D – Dreago

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K – Well, last year when we talked to Matt, he was quick to say that you are a “fucking good-looking guy”…

T – Hahahaha! That’s my boy, Matty! That’s my boy!

K – But he never really answered my question about the relationship between Slade and Ram…

T – Right, right.

K –Because we, as viewers, so clearly saw all these power plays and sexual tension. So what was going on there?

T – Ah well you know, I think there was definitely a little bit of homosexual subtext and undertones there but umm…

K – On purpose?

T – Oh no, I don’t think so. I think there’s always going to be that sort of innuendo or subtext when there’s two strong male characters that have a strong friendship, you know? I think, if they’re both powerful and there’s a lot of energy then there’ll often be tension and that could be interpreted as sexual tension. It doesn’t really bother me, I think it’s quite a nice subtext but…

K – It was fun for us!

T – Yeah, we definitely weren’t playing that as a choice – we weren’t … uh… layering that into our performance or anything like that. But, uh, yeah I don’t know. It’s interesting… yeah, yeah. I can see how it would be interpreted that way.

D – Well, it’s interesting because you’re saying it’s two powerful males and I can’t speak for Kelly but for me I didn’t see it because of that I think I saw it because of the manipulative element where you’re in the wheelchair, you have less power so you really have to charm and wheedle to get your way.

T – Right right, I see, so it was on a manipulative level. Yeah, that makes complete and utter sense. Yeah, that does make sense.

D – How did you prepare to get into that wheelchair?

T – Umm, well, I just spent a lot, a lot of time in that wheelchair before we actually started shooting. I had it available to me for about a month before we started to shoot and I just made it a part of me really. I spent a lot of time just out in the car park at Cloud 9 just cruising around in it because I figured… It was so exciting when I first got in the chair because I went straightaway now as an actor it’s all from here (indicates waist) up and it’s all in my face, my hands, and my voice. And so my hands became quite valuable to me as well, you know? Especially with the black, the black gloves and that in Series 4 in the early days and all of it - it was all just coming out here (wiggles fingers) which made it, made it quite fun and then so I almost made that as a point of focus initially as if they, as if everything I was saying was coming out through here.

D – Ahhh.

T – So that was quite a good preparation and ummm, I just spent a lot of time imagining that the frame size of the camera is just here (indicates waist to top of head) and anything down here is dead, you know? So that’s quite an interesting exercise for preparation as well. Yeah, yeah it was good.

K – Was it always the intention for him to get out of the wheelchair?

T – No, it wasn’t.

K – Really?

T - No, it wasn’t always the intention. It was something that I only read. We were at that stage… I’d heard murmurs of it at the start of Series 5. But of course, I think to a point it was a logistical thing as well. Once you move Ram to Liberty and once he was flying solo away from the Technos and stuff there was no real way that he could be cruising around town in his electric wheelchair. They could’ve put him in a manual chair or whatver but I think part of it was the logistics. And it was, to be honest, not one of my favorite storylines that he got out of the chair. To be honest I was kind of a bit bummed initially. It grew on me and I accepted it but I don’t know it was a bit far-fetched for me, to be honest.

D – Yeah.

T – Yeah, it’s kind of like – well, what’s that all about?

D & K – (laughing)

K – Well, how was the physicality of like, playing that learning to walk again where you’re so weak?

T – That was awesome! Yeah, that was real fun, eh? That was really fun. I would’ve like to have had a bit more time with that. We were quite rushed with shooting a lot of those scenes. But, umm… I haven’t seen any of them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of that stuff – I’ve never seen it so…

D & K – Really?

T – No. I don’t know what it’s like. I remember shooting it but no I’ve never seen any of it. I’ve hardly seen any of Series 5.

D – You don’t watch your own work?

T – Uh, traditionally I do. But I just… like that stuff wasn’t broadcast in New Zealand and I just never went about fetching it out to look at it. I watched most of Series 4 but I’ve hardly seen any of Series 5.

D – Oh wow.

T – So yeah, I’d like to see some so hopefully…

K – Well, we don’t have it.

T – Yeah, that’s right, that’s right so…

D – So what kind of critiques would you give yourself now, being where you are, when you went back and watched Series 4?

T – Yeah, umm… well, I would like to think that I’ve grown a lot as an actor since then. I mean, I really fell into the deep end as an actor going on to The Tribe. I’d never acted professionally before. I wasn’t trained. I’d done tv presenting and had fallen into this drama that I was really learning on the job and on the fly. I think I must’ve had some sort of good natural instinct to be able to umm, to get there. But I don’t think I had much consistency in my work back in those days compared to now. I think hopefully I’ve learnt and grown from… I’ve had a lot more experience since then and I think I have the ability now to be able to pull on those emotions a lot easier than I did then and to be more consistent with my work. But I still think there’s a few things that when I watched Season 4 that I liked - but not many.

D – Really?

T – Yeah, I think… but I think that’s natural. Most actors will cringe when they watch their own work. But yeah, I was only sixteen or something like that when I did Season 4. So you’re a teenager – you’re still learning who you are yourself let alone as an actor. Man, it’s tough though – critiquing yourself. It’s tough watching it. Well, it’s tough talking about self-review in any sense, isn’t it? Like for you guys, if you’re talking about whatever field you work in if people say ‘What are you like? How good at your job are you?’ It’s a tough question, you know?

K – (laughing) Yeah, I was just saying that I put the recorder over there because when I listen back to our tape from last year I’m so loud it’s obnoxious.

T – Yeah yeah, see! It’s awful!

D – We’re like – why did we say that?

T – Yeah yeah yeah! You see! Exactly! So that’s totally it. I was trying to explain to my mum the other day because umm, I’m working on a show back home at the moment called Shortland Street, which is like New Zealand’s kind of most popular drama.

D – Oh, congratulations!

T – Yeah, thanks. And umm, I play a Christian nurse on the show, which is pretty funny and it’s a lot different to any other role I’ve ever played. He’s very, you know, straight and…

D – Devout?

T – Yeah, devout. And it’s great a great role, I really enjoy it. But because it’s so popular in New Zealand, I mean all the shows I’ve worked on have only been popular overseas but not in New Zealand. And umm, so this is the first time that I’ve really had people when I go to the supermarket or whatever, just being swamped. And umm, I was trying to explain to my mum what that’s like and what it feels like. And she couldn’t really understand. And it was really funny and then, it’s because, you know, my mum and I are very close and she could usually understand where I’m coming from and she couldn’t. She just couldn’t grasp it and understand it because she’d never done it herself. Funny though, the next week there our road at home in Christchurch got blocked off and she was with my stepfather. And he ended up nutting out at the cops like ‘What the fuck! You shouldn’t have blocked off our road! Just get the hell out and let us go back!’ And it was all, they were being filmed the whole time and you know? They ended up on the cop show on Sunday night.

D – Really!?
K – Oh no!

T – And, and it was so funny because mum rung me just straightaway afterwards and she goes ‘Baby, I understand.’ She was like ‘I’ve had people calling me up ever since I was on there and they’ve been hassling me. And you know, I’ve had all these people coming out of the woodwork.’ And I’m like, mum, welcome to my world man. And now she totally understood it. It really really actually, even though I felt for her and empathized with her situation, it was really refreshing because she understood my perspective, you know? Yeah yeah, so that’s… I don’t know how I ended up on that rant all right but…

Continue to Part 2