Born and bred in Sydney Australia, Socratis graduated from NIDA in 2000 and hasn't looked back. He has an impressive list of credits to his name including Wolverine, The Matrix Re-loaded, and The Rage in Lake Placid starring Miranda Richardson. Although he says humbly that these were not big parts. "Wolverine was three and a half weeks on set that came down to three seconds, which is usual with the big Hollywood budgets," he laughs.
His recent work has made the most impact, including the Australian feature Beautiful, starring Deborra-Lee Furness and Erik Thomson. Anyone You Want and Charles Darwin in the ABC's mini-series Darwin's Brave New World. "They were three very different experiences, three very different characters, which is good because after nine years or so, you really start to understand what it is to be an actor and what it means to be involved in different projects and mediums" explained Socratis. "They are my best work and I am growing to a point where I feel much more competent."
A desire to "do something creative" in music, writing or film and the recommendation that he should try drama school, led Socratis to apply for NIDA. "I was quite surprised when I got in because I hadn't really done anything before, but it really solidified my desire to be an actor and discover more about my creativity."
After almost ten years in the industry, Socratis is keen to branch out in different areas including directing. He admits to being inspired by Gavin Hood the director of Wolverine, who he worked with on the casting for Tsotsi. "He's such an 'actors' director, he's focused on primarily communicating with the actor which can be unusual with the big Hollywood films, you hear rumours that there's not always that intricate relationship between actor and director, so I was inspired by his hype, he was so thrilled and excited and yet still so humble.
Also Dean O'Flaherty the writer and director of Beautiful, who was such a lovely and cool guy. When you are working on an intense film with really taboo topics, it makes all the difference to have someone crack jokes and to be really present, when they ask questions and dissect the scene| it's not all about ego and I love that|.I just love that" he said enthusiastically.
Socratis enjoys playing Senior Detective Robert Robertson, who is a refreshingly eccentric character. Script producer James Walker explained the creation process. "Home and Away isn't a hard cop drama, but we were faced with the prospect of having a serious murder investigation and we needed to do that justice within the confines of our show. Robertson, with all his quirks and unique sense of humour, allowed us to tackle some pretty dark material but keep it funny and energetic - not depressing, in other words. So to ensure that Robertson could bring as many of our characters into the investigation as possible, he needed to be a chameleon of sorts. His talent for lying and his need to trick truth out of people were key to this."
When Socratis sat down with the producers to discuss Roberston's personality they all agreed on his style. James confessed "Sadly, he is partly inspired by my own dodgy talent for spinning tall tales to get a laugh. I've always been a fan of Colombo and Twin Peaks, and more recently House, and they have incredibly eccentric 'investigators' at the heart of those shows, so they provided some inspiration too. But mainly he's his own unique animal." Socratis was in vehement agreement "It's one of the most fantastic roles I have ever come across.
When I read the role he reminded me of Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peeks and they sort of styled me that way with the suit and slicked back hair. I loved that his whole motivation was to get to the truth of the matter and he will do anything he can to get to that point. He confronts people and most people in life, when they are confronted by the truth, kind of lash out if they are frightened and they blame the other person and that is what he thrives on."
Robertson returns to the Bay to investigate the disappearance of Penn Graham. Penn upset many of the residents making the challenge of finding out the truth even harder. Can Robertson crack the case and will he try to re-kindle his relationship with Leah?
Watch a sneak peek of his return.
Interview by Tania Seager.