“I wanna play this rambunctious, cheeky asshole”: An Interview with Alex Kaan 

Alex Kaan is a QUT alum who has just landed a role in Season Two of controversial crime series Last King of the Cross.  

The show is an Australian-original production on Paramount+ inspired by Sydney nightclub boss John Ibrahim’s memoir of the same name. It’s a dramatic retelling of John’s rise to power in the red-light district of Kings Cross and his many famed tussles with the law over alleged criminal activity in his businesses.  

Alex will be playing John’s younger brother Fadi, and joining a killer cast including Lincoln Younes, Claude Jabbour and Tim Roth. Hailing from the Gold Coast, Alex graduated from QUT with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) in 2020. Since finishing his degree, Alex has worked on a myriad of projects ranging from theatre to film, many of which he said came out of connections in his QUT cohort.  

Filming for this project has just started in and around Sydney and Alex sat down with Ben Steele to chat what getting such a role means to him and his journey from QUT to Paramount+.  

BEN: Firstly, congratulations, this is a huge accomplishment. How are you feeling? 

ALEX: I feel great. It was a little overwhelming at first. It’s a really great opportunity. But I just had such lovely feedback from uni friends and from people in the acting world that I’ve met along the way. And family members and whatnot. I’m not great at taking compliments. So, it’s a bit like when everyone’s singing Happy Birthday to you. And you’re just kind of smiling. 

B: What was the auditioning process like? 

A: It was just after the [writers] strikes had ended, and auditions were coming in quite quickly. The week I auditioned for Last King of the Cross, I had another audition that I was actually more stressed about. This other one had all these elements – like a different accent and all this physical stuff.  Both were due on the same day. And I thought I’d get this other one out of the way and then go on to film my Last King of the Cross audition.  

And the process from there, I got a text saying they were really happy with my tape and I’d be moved on to the next stage. This was around October. And then I didn’t hear about it for like a month, two months – nothing. Then I got an email that I was going to be called back in two days – so really quick turnaround. And, of course, you know, I did my research, I watched most of season one for auditions. With only two days, with eight episodes, each is an hour – I had to burn through them. 

And to top it all off, I got a text just before I was about to go in saying Oh, just so you know, the real John Ibrahim, the guy that it’s based on, he’s going to be in the room, all the best

B: THE John Ibrahim? What was it like meeting him? 

A: I was so intimidated. He’s got such a presence. I had just been on a three-day binge of the show based on his life, spent all my time researching his childhood, watched an interview with him about Kings Cross from the early 90s, watched an archive video on YouTube and on and on. I was his biggest fan for four days straight and then to just meet him felt very unreal.  

He’s lovely. I haven’t had too much one-on-one time with him. But from what I can tell, I think he’s a real asset to have on set. I am enamoured by his attention to detail. There’s a full recreation of Kings Cross from that time period and John has gone through and had signs corrected and colours of doors changed to make the set more accurate. We’re definitely stepping into the Kings Cross that he was running.  

I find every time he starts talking about that world, I’m all ears because it’s something that we’re never going to get again. 

B: So, you are playing John’s brother Fadi. What is it like playing a real-life person? 

A: Of course, the actual man and the character are different.  

In John’s book, he writes Fadi is the only member of our family who dances, and as soon as I read that, I knew I was going to have so much fun. In one of John’s clubs, they had a podium named after him, where he would dance and dance off against other patrons of the club. Fadi is young, he’s a dancer, he’s got lavish cars, an amazing home on the east side. Like, he’s kind of got it all! 

From what I can tell, out of the four brothers he was the one that was always all about fun. There’s a line – this isn’t a spoiler – where John says to one of the other brothers Look, you can see clubs as a business, Fadi just sees them as fun. And that’s kind of how I’ve been leaning into this character. He’s in this larger-than-life world that John brought them all into. And I think Fadi was the one that was most drawn to the fun and the party of it all. I think it will really set the tone that in my first scene in episode one, I am going be having a full conversation with my “brother” in the nude. And Fadi is not fazed by it at all.  

It for sure scared me a little to be playing a real person. Especially reading about these four men and these lives they led.  To know that you are going to be part of retelling that? Yeah, it was scary. Obviously, the series is not a direct, docu series or that sort of thing. It’s all inspired by John’s book about his life. John himself is a producer on the show and everything that happens, he is a part of. And I am there playing his brother. I found that stressful. I want to play this rambunctious, cheeky asshole to his brother. But I also don’t want to offend John.  

B: What is the one impression of the show you want everyone to know?  

A: The thing that most I felt the most connected to when I watched Season One of Last King of the Cross – while I did rush at the start – is the Australian content. You very rarely watch a show and the characters talk about Bondi or you see Australian police uniforms.  

I’m really happy and proud that there’s this new wave of Australian TV that is giving genuine, earnest Australian experiences.  

I feel like there was a big gap. We went from Muriel’s Wedding, Two Hands, old school Aussie content. And then after a break, we’re getting the Heartbreak High, and Boy Swallows Universe. I feel like Last King of the Cross is Australian. And it’s genuinely Australian. It’s not trying to sell Australia, which is something we did go through a period of. I just am really excited to be a part of this new wave of Australian work. 

— 

If you want to check out Alex in Season Two of Last King of the Cross, it will be a bit of a wait as filming has just commenced – but it will stream on Paramount+.  

This is just a snippet of an amazing chat I had with Alex. We have posted the whole interview on our brand-new podcast ‘Just To Be Clear: A Glass Podcast’!

Ben Steele
Ben Steele
Articles: 27

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