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Upright star Tim Minchin: 'I’m a failed actor who became a comedian!'

Tim is a struggling pianist driving across Australia in a quirky road-trip drama...

Tim Minchin is best known as a keyboard-playing comic, and creator of West End musical Matilda. Now Tim is showing off his acting chops in a Sky's eight-part drama Upright, about a pair of misfits on an Australian road trip.

The 44-year-old plays Lucky Flynn, who has just started hauling his battered upright piano across Australia when he is involved in a traffic accident with feisty teen Meg (Milly Alcock).

The two become reluctant travelling companions on the 4,000km trip from Sydney to Perth, slowly revealing their vulnerabilities to each other en route.

We met up with Tim Minchin to find out more about Upright...

Tim, how would you describe the main characters Lucky and Meg (Milly Alcock)?

Tim Minchin: “Here are two people who would not naturally be thrown together. You’ve got a guy who needs to take a pill to manage his anxiety, and within the first few minutes he bumps into this young girl. But Lucky has a dilemma that requires Meg to solve – the transport of an instrument – and she’s got a dilemma that requires him.”

Do you have a piano that has a great sentimental value?

Tim Minchin on the piano

Tim Minchin on the piano in Upright

Tim: “The piano I taught myself to play on was my great-gran’s. She wasn’t a pianist, and it is still there in my mum’s house. In Upright, Lucky’s piano belonged to his great grandmother. So it’s all very connected!”

What's the inspiration for the series?

Tim: “It’s about what happens when you separate yourself from home, and about Lucky’s inability to take responsibility for this kid as, when he finds out about her trauma, he absolves himself of any responsibility.” 

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How would you describe Lucky and Meg's relationship?

Tim: “It’s not a father-daughter relationship or an uncle-niece one, and they certainly don’t get in any weird sort of relationship, but you just get to observe two people who initially seem like opposites become symbiotic.”

Have you drawn on your own experiences while co-writing Upright?

Tim: “My brother Dan plays Lucky’s dad in flashback. And like Lucky and his brother, I was Dan's best man. Also I did Lucky and Meg's road trip in the opposite direction when I was nine. My parents put us all in a van, and we went across Australia sleeping in a fold out tent. It was so mad!”

You've devoted a lot of time to musical comedy and stage musicals recently. Are you pleased to be back acting again?

Tim: “I’ve always thought acting is part of what I do. But I’ve had to prove myself again because I’m a failed actor who became a comedian!”

Tim Minchin's Upright starts on Sky Atlantic with a double bill on Thursday 28 November at 10pm.

All episodes will be available on NOW TV from Thursday 28 November.