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:: Spotlight :: Two Fists One Heart - Interview with Daniel Amalm

By: Dave Griffiths

Daniel Amalm is an Australian actor who has worked hard… bloody hard… to get to the point of his career where he is the lead role in a feature film. What makes his story even better is that his lead-debut comes in the critically acclaimed new film, ‘Two Fists One Heart’; a film many are saying is the first boxing film to feature ‘real heart’.

Amalm admits that this was a film he desperately wanted to be involved with from the time he first heard about it. ‘I got wind of the film while I was shooting Underbelly. I heard about this film… Two Fists One Heart… I heard they were casting and that they were looking for a boxer. I really wanted to be involved because I’d been a boxer… I mean I used it to train and to stay fit. I thought this was great. So, I went in and did a test, got the recall and then met with Shawn (Seet; the director of ‘Two Fists One Heart’), I did a few more tests and then just waited for the call. I was overwhelmed when I got it.’

There was little surprise that Amalm was so happy about landing this role. Since bursting onto our screens playing Jack Wilson in soap, ‘Home And Away’, Amalm had been in a kind of acting wilderness for ten years. Small roles in acclaimed television productions ‘The Whipping Boy’ and ‘Tripping Over’ kept his name in the industry but it took being cast as criminal Dino Dibra in ‘Underbelly’ for Australia to remember what a fine actor Daniel Amalm is. The importance of landing a lead role in a film isn’t lost on him. ‘Career wise it is a big change… a big step. But this is what I’ve dreamed off since I was a little fella going to the cinemas. You can’t plan for these things to happen… you can work towards it… but ultimately you just have to wait and hope.’

It’s obvious by just talking to Amalm to see how passionate he is about ‘Two Fists One Heart’ and he says that passion has been there since he first read the script. ‘I read it and just thought what an awesome script. There were so just many layers, and in the first few pages there was a boxing sequence, but it was no ordinary boxing scene. It was all there punch by punch, round by round and I just knew it had been written by a boxer. There was just this element of realism and then this beautiful story. Not just about father and son but also this love interest. It was these two different worlds meeting, with personal growth and experience. The boxing is so truthful, and this isn’t just some action beat-‘em-up flick… I think it’s a real couple’s film. The guy will love the cars and the boxing and the females will appreciate the other aspects.’

The script certainly was written by a boxer, former Golden Gloves champion, Rai Fazio to be exact. Amalm admits finding that out changed everything. ‘Knowing the film was about Rai’s life… well that raised the stakes one hundred per cent. I really worked hard, I took a skipping rope along to the audition because I knew they would expect me to skip. I showed that I knew shadow boxing. And I really needed to get into shape. They had really looked after us on the ‘Unberbellly’ set so I used my training experience to get the weight down.’

Of course Rai Fazio also plays Amalm’s nemesis in the film, so how hard was it having the writer on the set? ‘Having Rai on the set was no pressure at all, it was actually easy. He is a top bloke, and he and Shaun kept reassuring me that I was the one they wanted there. That allows your confidence to build and you begin to trust your research. Then you begin to trust the people you are working with. You feel really responsible when you are in the leading role and it is representing somebody’s life.’

Of course that leads to the obvious question how daunting is it for an actor to step into the ring with an experienced boxer. ‘Strangely enough it made me feel better getting into the ring. We sparred to get used to each other, and we felt more confident that we both knew what we were doing and that no one would get hurt. Rai choreographed all the fights and none of it was fakes, we really were wearing each others punches. We would step into the ring and fight knowing that the fight had a certain place to end… like the director would say, ‘okay one minute forty in one of you has to go down’, and then we would go for it… just wearing the punches.’

It is little surprise that Amalm was able to call upon some personal experiences to prepare himself for this role. ‘I did feel some elements of the character. My father wasn’t the same though, he was more against me getting into boxing. I had done bouncing though. I would work at the club and then rush off to auditions and the other guys there nicknamed me Hollywood Dan. When I got this role they were wrapped. Actually when we did the Bouncer scenes we had no extras. It was all real and I totally got into it, I would walk up to people and cut them off at the bar.’

There is more than just Amalm’s acting ability on show in ‘Two Fists One Heart’. His band OP25 also feature on the soundtrack. ‘We finished the track but it was unfortunately too late to be used in the film but it’s on the soundtrack. I didn’t just get it on there because of who I was. I had a casual chat with the guy choosing the music and I asked him how he chose bands to be included and he literally picked up a street press magazine, flicked up to the largest ad and said ‘well I may use them’. I asked if I wrote a song from my character’s point of view would they consider it and they said yes.’

‘Two Fists One Heart’ is one the best Australian films to surface in a long time and Amalm ends the interview with this piece of advice for people going to see the film ‘Go in and enjoy yourself, and remember that a lot of people have put a lot of hard work into this film. It’s taken Rai ten years to do this.’