Australia’s answer to Tracey Ullman, Chris Lilley, is starring in the new HBO mockumentary series, Angry Boys, which airs Sunday’s at 10pm.
Each week, two half-hour episodes will air, featuring Lilley in a multitude of roles, including a rich kid rapper, a forceful mother, and identical twin teenager boys.
In an interview with Winnipeg Free Press, Lilley says, “I don’t make things easy for myself, but why give myself limitations? I don’t need a deadline. I just work until it’s ready.”
Lilley, 37, first gained attention in the US in 2007 with another HBO series, Summer Heights High, which was a similar platform for Lilley’s ability to play multiple (often outrageous) characters. But Lilley doesn’t want his audience to assume he’s just a really good impressionist. “People go, ‘You’re a great mimic,’ which I sort of hate to hear because it’s never my motivation. I’m not even that fussy about accents. I love writing the characters, I think about them a lot, and then they’re just there.”
He feels like the characters come to him, rather than him adapting to a particular person’s characteristics. He says, “Most of what I’m doing is on the writing and producing side. I don’t think of myself as an actor-for-hire.”
Although Lilley is used to the comparisons to Ullman, he tries to keep his physical transformations as minimal as possible. He says, “A big part of the show is that it has the same person playing a number of the characters, so I don’t want to be too disguised and made up. More important, I think you lose the expressive qualities of your face if you’re covering it up too much.”
It seems Lilley has been preparing for the Angry Boys format since he was a child growing up in Melbourne. While hanging out with a friend, Lilley says, “All of a sudden I’d launch into a character, my friend would go along with it, and the story would sort of evolve. Or we would exchange long letters as the characters, so we could rely less on improv and really think the story through. It’s exactly what I’m doing now.”