Jeffrey Walker played Bronson in Round The Twist
Jeffrey Walker played Bronson in Round The Twist

Forgotten Round the Twist star’s new career

Jeffrey Walker may not be a household name in Melbourne, but if you grew up in the 90s then you may know him as the loveable redhead from kids TV show Round the Twist.

The Melbourne actor who played Bronson Twist in the show's second season has grown up and works in Hollywood directing some of the biggest shows like Modern Family, Fresh off the Boat and Rake.

And surprisingly, another well-known Aussie played a part in helping Jeffrey's overseas career boom.

Walker in a scene from Little Squirt, Episode 3, Season 2. Picture: You Tube.
Walker in a scene from Little Squirt, Episode 3, Season 2. Picture: You Tube.

Walker was nine when he started auditioning for TV shows.

Born in Daylesford, he moved to Melbourne and it was at Bentleigh West Primary that his best mate helped him discover his passion for acting.

His parents had "little interest in showbiz" but he begged them to let him explore acting.

Luckily for Walker, he didn't have many setbacks early on.

"This has never been repeated in my career yet, but in my first few years as an actor I just got about every role I went for," he says.

One of his first shows was family comedy Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left, which he was part-way through shooting when he landed the Round the Twist role.

 

HAVE YOU EVER, FELT LIKE THIS?

Bronson was played by three different actors in across the show's four seasons - Rodney McLennan in the first, Walker in the second and Mathew Waters in third and fourth.

While all three actors haven't met, Walker says aside from Bronson they all share something else in common.

"If it's brought up at the pub (that you're Bronson from Round the Twist) people will quote their favourite episode and convince you that you were that Bronson from that episode," he says.

"Even though every time, it's never your episode. Sometimes it's easier to just agree and play along with it."

At the time of shooting, other similarities included having strawberry blonde hair - although Walker says his was more unintentional.

"I naturally don't have red hair, but I dyed it very bright red for Halfway Across the Galaxy as my character was from an alien family," he says.

When Walker tried to dye it blonde for his Round the Twist role, it didn't go back.

"So for multiple episodes you see me with this red hair colour that became iconic overtime," he says.

Actor and director Jeffrey Walker with wife Brooke Harman and sons Boston, 4, (left) and Ace, 2, at their home in Bulimba, Brisbane. Picture: AAP.
Actor and director Jeffrey Walker with wife Brooke Harman and sons Boston, 4, (left) and Ace, 2, at their home in Bulimba, Brisbane. Picture: AAP.

Walker's favourite Bronson moment was in the episode 'Little Squirt', where he volunteers himself for a peeing competition against older kids.

"That episode might have … stuck more in my mind for that particular reason. Round the Twist really was pushing the boundaries of children's TV at the time," he says.

Walker keeps in touch with the cast, often bumping into them through the tight-knit television and film industry, including Richard Young who played James Gribble Jnr on the show.

"He's a unit manager and manages all of the trucks on film shoots. I've done a project with him," he said.

Walker was only a few years into his acting career and studying at Sandringham College when he decided his future lay behind the camera.

"I trained with a Jonathan Shift's production company when I was working on Thunderstone," he said.

"He let me direct a few scenes and I built a show reel."

That led Walker at just 20 to land a gig directing long-time soap Neighbours, as well as Home And Away, All Saints and Blue Heelers.

But it was Walker's work on another Australian TV show that broke him into the US market.

 

FROM BENTLEIGH TO BEVERLY HILLS

 

Jeffrey Walker is grateful for the career he’s led so far. Picture: AAP.
Jeffrey Walker is grateful for the career he’s led so far. Picture: AAP.

Back in 2007 when Australia was experiencing Chris Lilley fever after the performer released Summer Heights High, Walker was asked to direct Lilley's much-anticipated next program - Angry Boys for American TV network HBO.

"I was taking a tonne of meetings that probably wouldn't have presented if it weren't for Chris Lilley," he says.

"People wanted to talk about Chris and how he worked, so I'd try and shoehorn myself into any conversation I could."

Walker directed seven episodes of US sitcom Modern Family.
Walker directed seven episodes of US sitcom Modern Family.

"Eventually that yielded the interest of one of two people who took a chance on me."

Walker scored more work and has since directed episodes of US family sitcom Modern Family, comedy Fresh off the Boat and dramas This is Us and Rake.

He's also directed features like Ali's Wedding and Dance Academy: The Movie.

 

Walker still has 'pinch me' moments and everyday is grateful for his career.

Queen Elizabeth II even visited the set of Round the Twist in 2000 — sadly after Walker’s time on the show. Picture: Mark Smith.
Queen Elizabeth II even visited the set of Round the Twist in 2000 — sadly after Walker’s time on the show. Picture: Mark Smith.

"I'm so grateful working in this business. I've never seen it as laborious or felt I needed a career change," he says.

"I love being on set so much, which is especially hard now thanks to COVID-19."

Walker's latest project, a Jim Henson Company produced film The Portable Door starring Christoph Walzt and Guy Pearce, has been put on hold because of coronavirus.

But the downtime has been great for Walker, who splits his time between Brisbane and Los Angeles, California.

He's been able to spend more time with his actor wife Brooke Harman and their three children Boston, 6, Ace, 4 and Leo, 1.

And he's been able to chip away at pre-production work for his next project.

"In general the film and TV industry has shut down for now. I'm working with people to devise models on how we can these productions moving, as usually the first to shut down is the last to come back," he says.

"Today I'm still emailing and trying to make projects happen. It's all challenging in different ways.

 

kara.irving@news.com.au

@kara_irving


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