Actor Luke Arnold on the women who have shaped his life

It’s interesting to reflect on the actresses I admired before I got into the acting industry who later became colleagues, like Heather Graham, star of Boogie Nights, which is one of my favourite films. When Heather enlisted me to act opposite her on her 2018 film Half Magic, it was a “pinch-me” moment. One minute I would be talking to her as a colleague, then the next I’d think, “You’re HEATHER GRAHAM!”

My first serious relationship was with Hayley at Sunshine Beach High School in Queensland. We bonded over acting and performing. It was nice to meet a girl after my teenage years in Sydney, where I’d worked as a clown, doing parties and magic, mostly around dudes.


While at drama school [WAAPA in Perth], I picked up a girlfriend from the airport dressed in wrapping paper. I’d asked her what she wanted for Christmas and she’d replied, “Just you.” I took that literally. It was a silly, ridiculous, romantic gesture. I’m glad camera phones weren’t a big thing back then.

In the 2022 NITV SBS series True Colours, Rarriwuy Hick and I both played detectives. Filming that was a huge education for me. My touchstones on the Northern Territory set were the women – Rurriway and Arrernte/Warlpiri woman Marie Ellis, with whom we consulted daily to follow cultural protocol.

It was nerve-racking to be the white fella who was ignorant of so many things. But the First Nations people had such generosity teaching me about that part of the country, and about the practices that impacted storylines, like men’s business, kinship and payback. There was overwhelming care for us outsiders coming in.

I’ve been with my current partner, Laura, for a year. We met while making a film 16 years ago and I was completely and madly infatuated with her. We were both young and at that time I was ill-equipped to handle such strong feelings.

We had a couple of false starts that left us both feeling tender, but we kept returning to the flame. Something I’m proud of is that we kept showing up, as it would have been easy to just turn it into a story of heartbreak and not deal with it.

We’ve always been great friends throughout it all. Laura is the person I want to call with good news, with a question, or if I’m anxious about something. It’s the relationship I knew I wanted, and I’m very grateful to be in it now.

Luke Arnold stars in Scrublands, premiering November 16 on Stan.

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