WHAT many may not know about David Villanti, the actor known for his role as Dario in the offbeat courtroom melodrama Rake, is that heis plagued with post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is of this struggle, born in his days as an Australian Army medic on a peacekeeping mission during the Rwandan Civil War, that he tells in two-part documentary Exit Wounds.
“We introduced an immunisation program for meningitis — once we did 25,000 kids in two days,” actor Graham Gall, who plays Villanti, solemnly says to camera in one poignant scene.
Villanti left the field after 24 years in 2002 and worked a year in a desk job in the Australian Defence Force before being “pensioned out”, he said.
He was 42.
The Australian character actor spoke to the Penrith Press ahead of his next performance at Werrington playhouse, The Henry Lawson Theatre, where he is starring in Love Begins at 50.
The farcical comedy, by Raymond Hopkins, opened two weeks ago.
“We’re getting a full audience,” Villanti said.
“It’s about a man whose been married 28 years but the marriage is dying.”
Clive, who he plays, has never been unfaithful but as he approaches his 50th birthday he gets an idea to meet three prospective partners from the ‘Lonely Hearts’ column in the local paper.
“It’s really funny and will get you in stitches, hopefully,” Villanti promised.
“I started in community theatre when I was in Karratha (in Western Australia) in my last posting in the military,” Villanti said, adding “It was a godsend really”.
“It’s so nice to be someone else for an hour or two,” he said.
He went on to describe how acting had given him a second lease on life after his marriage broke down, and feelings of isolation set in.
“You saw things in Rwanda that you would never see in everyday Australia,” Villanti told the Penrith Press.
“Life was a bit rough (with post-traumatic stress disorder).
“My basic problem is depression and anxiety.
“Being on the stage, it gives you an aim and a chance to meet other people at other skill levels, with different occupations and different reasons for doing what they do.
“There’s also the self-discipline.”
He said the hardest thing for him has been showing his feelings, something acting is slowly teaching him to do.
Villanti lives in Campbelltown with his care dog Harper.
“She comes on the motorbike with me — and knows when I muck up (my lines),” he laughed
Since graduating from the Actors College of Theatre and Television in Sydney in 2005, he has performed on stage, in commercials, film and television — including Channel Nine’s Australian Families of Crime series and the popular ABC series Rake.
He is the associate producer, creative consultant and an actor in Exit Wounds, which recently premiered in Paris as part of the international documentary film festival, Ethnografilm, which featured more than 100 works by documentary and academic filmmakers from 68 countries.
Exit Wounds employs techniques such as cinema verite, dramatic monologue, the television current affairs interview and live action footage to offer a glimpse into Villanti’s life.
“The film is offered as a small contribution to the public conversation on the impact of post-traumatic stress on individuals, their families and the wider community,” director Pattie Collins said.