What inspired your upcoming visit to the country town of Cobram?
I have a friend that I did some charity work for a few years back, in North Wales, UK, called Anne-Marie Hindle. When Anne-Marie moved to Australia, we kept in touch. She told me about the school she worked at, Cobram Secondary College as an integration co-ordinator, and told me about the fantastic programs they had there like Illuminate, Boost, Math pathways and Advance classes.
I had my own challenges when I was growing up and was impressed that Cobram Secondary College offered diverse programs giving opportunities to every student, whatever their level and learning needs.
When Anne-Marie asked me to visit the school to talk to the students and maybe do a few workshops in drama and martial arts — the pathway I took to become an actor — I said, ‘‘why not?’’.
It took a few months to arrange, due to my work commitments, and by securing the kind sponsorship from The Youth Foundation meant that my visit could finally happen.
I’m so excited that I’m going to get the opportunity to meet all the students and the staff at Cobram Secondary College and see the good programs that are offered to the students for myself, and create some great memories for the school community.
Are you expecting a big response from your many fans in Cobram and across Australia?
Well, I am expecting a big response; you know, the Force is strong with me, right? LoL.
What activities will you take part in here?
The school has arranged a timetable of activities for me; visiting their reading programs Illuminate and Boost sessions; conduct drama and martial arts workshops; Q&A sessions. I’m excited also to be able to see the Advance class and their work with the CFA and I believe I will be judging a best costume, when the whole school will be turning up one day as a character from one of the movies I have starred in. Oh, and I wouldn’t say no to wrestling a croc whilst I’m in Oz.
Have you undertaken a similar role with school students before?
One thing I love is interacting with young souls; if I can make a difference by sharing with the kids the challenges I had growing up, especially the literacy challenges I had, that with determination you can reach your goals and take every opportunity schools offer you.
I have visited lots of schools in the UK but this is my first visit to Australia.
What do you think you will enjoy the most about the interaction with the students?
What I love most about the interaction with students is listening to their goals and dreams in life, telling those kids that don’t have any confidence in themselves that they too can achieve those goals. I did!
Darth Vader is a huge role — did you ever dream of that during your boyhood?
Well, I always knew I would make it into the movies. When I got my first role, I was straight into the deep end and got to play a lot of cool characters, so I guess to answer the question, yes, I had a feeling the galaxy was going to call one day — LoL.
Are you a big Dr Who fan?
I love being part of the Dr Who family, so when I was offered a part I had flash backs to my childhood when, all them moons ago, I loved hiding behind the sofa.
Tell us about your role in Harry Potter and The Wrath of the Titans.
Not many people know this, but I have starred in three Harry Potter movies: The wolf in The Prisoner of Azkaban; I was Hagrid’s double, and in the Deathly Hallows part II I played one of the knights.
Which of your roles have you enjoyed the most?
I can’t answer that one, I’ve enjoyed every one so far, and I’m living the dream.
Which role was the most challenging?
When working on the films, it’s not all flashy light and red carpets, everyone who works in the movies, in front or behind the camera, will tell you there are very long days, long hours — but very enjoyable hours for me. The longer the hours the better. I really do love my job and the people I work with, so if the body aches playing a character, I know I am doing a good job.
Can you tell us about your next big-screen appearance and the possible roles you would like to try in future?
My lips are sealed. I’m afraid if I was to tell you, I would have to kill you — LOL.
What are your favourite movies, apart from the ones you have starred in?
I love movies like The Wizard of Oz, E.T and Batman. I’m a big kid at heart.
What do you like to do to relax after a hard day’s work?
I like to hit the gym, go for a walk, go and see friends or wind my two boys up.
How do you cope with stardom and all that media attention?
Stardom! Thing is, no matter how big the crowd or noise, I am grounded, so I just take it in my stride — but I do love a crowd. I used to be a pro fighter, so the more noise, bigger the crowd, I love it!
Finally, what are your expectations about Australia itself, on what will be your very first visit?
A boomerang shop and look for some wallabies (LoL). No, but really, Australia has been in my heart as long as I can remember and this being my first trip to Oz for myself and my family, it’s going to be an all-round special trip. I feel there is something great going on in the Force.
It’s not about me this trip, it’s about all the young people I’m going to meet, and this is their time!
●Wilding said he would like to acknowledge all of the sponsors of the Red Carpet Gala Ball that is happening on July 28 and thank them for making it possible.