Phil lands lucky role
WEST Ballina's Phil Ross is a keen fisherman who has been able to live out a fisherman's fantasy - with some luck involved.
Phil is the main character in Lotto's latest television commercial.
He's the old fella who sits with his two mates at a favourite fishing spot where he hasn't caught a fish in 40 years.
Phil's character wins the Lotto, and spends some of his money on getting a truckful of fish tipped into the lake.
The 79-year-old said that it was a lot of fun getting in front of the camera again.
Phil has a long list of acting credits, including major stage productions, television shows like The Box and A Country Practice, he played Harold Holt on a 1985 docu-drama about the former Prime Minister, and he played a role in the 1970s film Sunday too far away.
He moved to Ballina in 1989 to retire with his partner Felicity Gordon, also an acclaimed actor, author and playwright. He hasn't had a TV role since the mid-1990s.
The Lotto ad was filmed over three days in the South Coast town of Berry, starting on July 30.
And it was cold - particularly the night scene which required a 4.30am start.
Phil had some luck in being offered the role in the first place.
The Sydney casting agency contracted to find the actors remembered Phil and figured he would be in the required age group of 70 to 80 - Phil hasn't been on a casting agency's books since he retired.
The agency had to track him down to offer him the part.
Originally, Phil knocked it back - spending the money to go to a screen test in Sydney was somewhat of a gamble as the actors aren't guaranteed the part.
He asked the agency to send him a copy of the script, and he said he enjoyed the storyline so he decided to put his hand up for the role.
"It was nice to remembered in your old age," Phil said.
"I thoroughly enjoyed doing it (the ad).
"But it was quite hard work for an old fellow."
He said he was 'spoiled rotten' during his time on set, surrounded by three women who were assigned to look after the ageing stars of the commercial, including a nurse.
He hopes some of his luck will rub off on someone else in Ballina, and the Big One falls locally.
Another Ballina man can also take some fame from the commercial which screens across NSW.
Phil borrowed a fishing hat and jacket from one of his mates at the Ballina Seniors Bridge Club, Bob Pilling, which he wears in the commercial.