Matthew Fox stars in first comedy role in Aussie series Caught

Matthew Fox is the quintessential Hollywood star.

He played the lead role in the much-loved 90s teen drama Party of Five and then starred in the TV series Lost, which became a global phenomenon.

At the height of his success, the actor decided to take a break from the spotlight to focus on his family. Now, after a seven-year hiatus, Fox is slowly dipping his feet back into the acting pool – and among his first projects is the Australian satirical comedy series C*A*U*G*H*T, which premieres on Stan on September 28.

Fox was in Covid-19 lockdown in Rome, Italy, with his family when he received an email from his good friend, Aussie actor Kick Gurry, who created, wrote, directed and starred in C*A*U*G*H*T alongside the former teen heart-throb.

In the email was a 15-minute teaser of the series about four Aussie soldiers captured by freedom fighters in a war-torn country who bask in their new-found celebrity status on social media when their hostage video goes viral.

And the short clip was all Fox needed to get on-board.

“We’ve been in touch through many things in life since we met on Speedracer [in 2008]. And I got this email from Kick and he sort of prefaced what the link was about. And then I pressed on this link and I saw this 15-minute sizzle thing that he’d made with the boys, and I was just blown away by it,” Fox, 57, tells news.com.au during his Sydney visit to promote the six-episode series.

“I mean, my wife and I and our son, Byron, I remember we just sort of watched it on repeat, and I just thought, ‘Oh my God, I just could so clearly see the tone.’ I could clearly already see the thing that he wanted to make fun of and sort of explore this idea of social media, this idea of our cultural obsession with fame. And I just was just totally blown away by it.”

The series marks Fox’s first comedic role, and although he plays serious American Lieutenant Pete Mitchell, trying to keep a straight face among a stellar cast such as Curry, Alexander England, Ben O’Toole and Lincoln Younes, and international stars such as Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon and Bryan Brown, was challenging.

“I had more fun making this than anything I’ve ever been a part of by a long shot,” Fox says. “It was just a joy to work on. The days on set were just fun and spontaneous and full of laughter and experimentation. But yeah, I mean when they would say action, there were times where keeping a straight face was not easy and people did break in scenes a lot, which is absolutely hilarious in its own.”

However, Gurry says placing Fox’s intense character in a sea of not-so-serious soldiers was what made the scenes in the satire.

“Matthew’s playing theoretically a serious character, but the only serious part is he’s not acknowledging that what he’s doing is ridiculous because what he’s doing is ridiculous,” Gurry tells news.com.au.

“In many ways, no one’s acknowledging the absurdity of what we’re involved in. So that really was the challenge for everyone, was just not to laugh.”

For Fox, starring in his first comedy was a welcome departure from his roles on dramas such as Party of Five and Lost – and the show also allowed him an escape out of the trappings of day-to-day life.

“Laughter is such a good tonic for everything. I mean, I find just in my own life, I can kind of get tunnel vision and sort of obsessive about the things that I want to try to get done just on a daily basis,” he says, adding that he hopes C*A*U*G*H*T will bring laughs for viewers.

“I’m hopeful that people will sit down, just laugh and enter a world where tonally, it just feels like it doesn’t happen very often. Certainly, I don’t feel like I’ve seen anything in this tonal sort of absurdist and over-the-top absolutely going for it, making fun of everyone and all things, and just sort of reattaching our concepts to the notion of we should be able to laugh as a group, no matter where you come from, no matter your colour, your creed, whatever. And I think that that’s a really healing thing. I’m hopeful that people will just enjoy the ride.”

Fox has certainly enjoyed the joy ride his career has taken him, with fond memories particularly surrounding his time on Party of Five from 1994 to 2000, where he played eldest brother Charlie Salinger who is appointed the guardian of his four brothers and sisters after their parents die in a car accident.

The series also launched the careers of Scott Wolf, Neve Campbell and Lacey Chabert.

“That was an amazing time for us. The cast are still people I occasionally keep in touch with, and I’m always surprised how wonderful it is to reconnect with Scott or Neve or Lacey,” he says.

Party of Five that was sort of a training ground for me as an actor. I was pretty green when I started on that show. I mean, I really hadn’t done a lot. Aside from all of the amazing relationships and the work that we did and the connection that we built by playing brothers and sisters, it was the beginning of me honing my teeth as an actor, getting an opportunity to do it every single day, day in and day out with really good, well-written material tonally.”

“Sometimes the show felt soft to me, and I think Scott would agree with that, but it was still well-executed and it was an opportunity for us really to figure out how to bring ourselves to the material. And it was a great opportunity, great opportunity. I’m very grateful for it.”

C*A*U*G*H*T is available to stream on Stan from September 28

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