Boy swallows success

Asset Publisher

18 January 2024

In the news Public school life

A graduate from WA’s only selective arts college is starring in one of Australia’s most popular TV shows.

Lee Tiger Halley, who plays central character August “Gus” Bell in the highly anticipated Netflix series Boy Swallows Universe, graduated from John Curtin College of the Arts in 2022.

Adapted from Trent Dalton’s iconic Australian novel, Boy Swallows Universe explores the crossroads where a boy becomes a man, good toys with evil, and the everyday meets the extraordinary.

Lee Tiger Halley (right) plays alongside Felix Cameron in Boy Swallows Universe. 

Halley’s character Gus is mute and is the older brother of protagonist Eli Bell.

“Usually, with auditions, it’s four or five pages of heavy dialogue that you have to learn. But with this — I think there were just maybe those two lines,” Halley told STM.

“I remembered thinking, ‘This character, he’s going to have to express so much through his eyes.’”

The Fremantle local acted alongside big Australian names in the coming-of-age/crime thriller series including Travis Fimmel, Phoebe Tonkin, Emmy nominee Simon Baker, Deborah Mailman, Anthony LaPaglia, Bryan Brown, Christopher James Baker, and Sophie Wilde.

Halley completed his entire secondary schooling at John Curtin College of the Arts where he was a gifted and talented drama student.

The school’s drama program gives students the opportunity to develop reading, writing, listening, speaking, and performance skills, as well as foundations for interpreting, reflecting, and analysing creative modes of expression.

Halley filmed Boy Swallows Universe in Brisbane during his final year of school. Speaking to STM, Halley said he was committed to making sure he finished Year 12 despite the busy production schedule.

“We had to do a lot of meetings, and call the producer on Boy Swallows Universe, but everything worked out great, and they sorted me out with a personal tutor while I was over there,” he said.

“I didn’t get to attend the graduation, but I got the certificate, and my little brother brought it over for me.”

Halley joins the long list of notable John Curtin College of the Arts alumni, including his former classmate Tyroe Muhafidin who was also a specialist drama student and is making waves in the industry after starring in the Amazon series The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power.

Muhafidin was one of Variety’s 2022 Power of Young Hollywood, a prestigious annual list that points to the brightest stars in Hollywood each year.