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Actor Greg Poppleton Believes Anno 2020 Authentically Captures Mood Of The Lockdowns

Australian actor Greg Poppleton plays a husband and brother grappling with tragic family issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 lockdowns in Anno 2020, the movie helmed by Kiwi director James Morcan. The Sydney-produced mystery-drama, which represents Morcan's directorial debut, celebrates its world premiere in Sydney on April 7.

Sydney-based Poppleton, whose credits include the upcoming Last Days of the Space Age (2024), Backtrack (2015) and Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), will be among the stars attending the red-carpet event.

In Anno 2020, Poppleton plays a highly-strung, disillusioned character, estranged from his American-based, onscreen brother Kevin Scott Allen (Star Trek, Alias, Prison Break) and separated from his onscreen wife Erin Connor (Occupation: Rainfall, Dino King 3D).

Tauranga-born Morcan describes Poppleton as an actor who prepares for roles meticulously.

“I can also safely say he's the most unpredictable performer I've ever worked with,” Morcan says. “Which was brilliant not only for me but also for the other cast members. I would love to work with him again.”

Those comments are echoed by Anno 2020’s lead producer Gil Ben-Moshe, of MoneyShot Productions, who lauded the amount of preparation Poppleton did leading up to his scenes.

“Every single word spoken was considered in detail and delivered perfectly,” he says.

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Ben-Moshe says apart from making the script come to life, the actor’s improvisation was something else altogether.

“Some of the movie’s best dialogue was improvised by Greg and his co-star Kevin (Scott Allen). It was authentic and heartfelt, and it elevated his character to another level. Audiences will be captivated by his believable and charismatic style of acting.”

The fourth of five children to bus driver Bert and shop worker Aileen (Stapleton), a young Greg Poppleton grew up in working class Sydney. He was discovered in a cattle call for a kids’ programme and made his movie debut in a scene with Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge in 2001.

Since that impressive introduction, he has appeared in one-on-one movie scenes with Adrien Brody and John Goodman, and on TV he has appeared in the series Barons (ABC), The Last Days of the Space Age (Disney +), and Year Of (Stan) among many other series.

Speaking from his home in Sydney this week, Poppleton, who is married with two sons, says he was drawn to participating in Anno 2020 because of the hugeness of the undertaking.

“Connecting the world at a time when the world was being fragmented and isolated was both the aim and the message of this production,” he says.

“Anno 2020 is an authentic artefact of the lockdowns. It was created during the lockdowns and is infused with the spirit of the times. Something that can never be replicated by future productions looking back. Paradoxically, in the age of isolation, Anno 2020 brought people together from across the globe whose paths, if not for the pandemic, would probably have never crossed.”

As for the cataclysmic year that was 2020, Greg marvels at the ingenuity people everywhere showed in remaining connected one way or another.

“There’s no doubt it (the year) presented new ways to do things and new ways to see things. The ingenuity individuals displayed in remaining social amazed me.”

Poppleton says his lasting memory of his involvement in Anno 2020, the movie, was how well director James Morcan and producer Gil Ben Moshe worked, together and with their cast.

“Their primary concern was in creating believable relationships between characters, and we talked a lot about character and relationships before the shoot.

“Getting to improvise the characters online weeks before the shoot with my onscreen brother, Elijah, played by the smart, generous and playful, Kevin Scott Allen, made the relationship between us genuinely brotherly. We say things to each other only brothers can get away with.

“In rehearsal we developed a detailed history together, not on a dry intellectual level, but on a connected and emotional one based solely on the script and encouraged by James. We rehearsed the story on its feet straight away, which as (the acting teacher Michael) Chekhov famously said, ‘is the actors’ way.’ It meant we could talk in character about anything in the story with spontaneity when the cameras rolled, whether at a train station, in a park or walking through city streets. Nothing threw us.

“That same process also created believable, spontaneous relationships between my character’s niece, played by the wonderful, up-and-coming Audrey Nitschke, and my estranged onscreen wife, the generous Erin Connor.”

Poppleton describes Morcan’s direction as textbook and says he’d be delighted to work with him and with Ben-Moshe again in future.

“All the preparation with actors concerning their ideas, character and relationships was done thoroughly before the shoot. When the camera rolled everyone knew what to do and were at ease with each other, and that’s a reflection of James’s directing style.”

Outside of acting, Poppleton has the unique distinction of being Australia's only authentic 1920s-30s singer. He has over 1.3 million YouTube hits, released eight albums, played Sydney Festival twice, and produces and hosts the networked jazz show, The Phantom Dancer, on Australian radio.

Beyond Sunday's world premiere in Sydney, a Melbourne screening of Anno 2020 will take place on May 6, and a Brisbane screening on June 4. The longer-term target includes online distribution on major streaming platforms.

The Anno 2020 trailer can be viewed at:

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