Best known for his madcap character Norman Gunston and the dour Arthur Beare of Mother and Son, Garry McDonald is one of Australia's most successful actors. He has starred in both comedy and serious roles on the stage, screen and television since finishing NIDA in 1967.
It was during his stint as Kid Eager in the crazy Auntie Jack show that Garry McDonald tried out the character from Wollongong with the protruding mandible. It was so successful that he became Norman Gunston, with an eponymous show on the ABC. Norman became an icon, interviewing the likes of Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, a hysterical Sally Struthers and a disbelieving Elliot Gould.
Norman Gunston disappeared off our screens for a while and we then saw Garry McDonald in a variety of films, including Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Picture Show Man and Ginger Meggs. He also starred in the highly successful television show Mother and Son with Ruth Cracknell. But Norman Gunston was not happy being left behind. In 1993, Garry had another stab at Norman, but after only a few shows, suffered a nervous breakdown and Norman was retired forever.
Garry McDonald went on to star in more episodes of Mother and Son. The show was so successful it was translated into French and Spanish. English, Swedish and Chilean.
Garry's most recent film is Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge and most recently has become a theatre director.
In 2005 Garry McDonald filmed a Tele Series called "Step Father of The Bride" for ABC Australian Television. In 2006, he made an appearance on Channel 9's mystery show "Two Twisted".
In 2008, he was Nathan Detroit in the major stage production Guys & Dolls in Melbourne.
Once known as the 'little Aussie bleeder' in his Norman Gunston persona, Garry McDonald has also done some emotional bleeding in his time. In 1993 he had a very public breakdown as the result of long-term anxiety and panic attacks. Years of various treatments, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, drugs, self-help books, counselling and an odd but curiously effective habit of flicking a taut elastic band against the inside of his wrist every time he had a negative thought, has resulted in a more stable, healthier, happier Garry McDonald, who is continuing his acting career and highlighting depression for Beyondblue, the national depression initiative, of which he is a board member.
Garry believes nothing should be taken for granted, emotions need to be monitored and triggers to anxiousness and depression recognized and acted upon, usually with the help of health professionals.
Referring to his own life as a work in progress, he says as he gets older he has learned to take pressure off himself. He and his wife, Diana, retreat to their home on the New South Wales south coast in between acting jobs and he is still keen about blues music (remember Norman's harmonica playing - a genuine skill from his days with a Blues band) and of course, theatre.