John Waters (actor)

John Russell Waters (born 8 December 1948) is an English-born film, theatre and television actor, singer, guitarist, songwriter and musician best known in Australia, where he moved to in 1968. He is the son of Scottish actor Russell Waters.[1] John Waters has been in the industry for over 40 years, and was part of the Australian children's television series Play School for 18 years.[1]

John Waters
Waters in May 2012
John Russell Waters

(1948-12-08) 8 December 1948
  • Actor (television and film)
  • musician
  • songwriter
  • playwright
  • theatre performer
  • TV presenter



Waters was born in London, England. He first faced a live audience as a singer and bass guitar player with 1960s London-based blues band The Riots before travelling to Australia, initially for an extended working holiday and then eventually settling there permanently.[2]

Waters is an accomplished musician, and since 1992 has toured many times with his one-man show Looking Through a Glass Onion. Co-written with friend and musician, Stewart D'Arrietta, the show is a tribute to John Lennon featuring numerous examples of Lennon's music, words and images. In addition to many Australian tours of this show it also played six months in the West End, London.[2][3] In 2014, it played 120 performances at the Union Square Theatre in Manhattan.[4]

Waters has released a number of CDs including The Story of Pilliga Pete and Clarrie the Cocky (2010), a family story and music CD written and narrated by Waters, Brel (2010) a live album sung in French and a tribute to the Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel, the double live album, John Waters Looking Through A Glass Onion (2011) and his debut originals album Cloudland (2011).


Waters first big break was in musicals, playing Claude in a Sydney production of Hair in 1969, then Judas in Godspell and Pontius Pilate in the Australian concert production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

He was in the original Australian production of They're Playing Our Song, which opened on 23 August 1980 at the Theatre Royal in Sydney. It starred Waters and Jacki Weaver, with Rhonda Burchmore as one of the Inner Voices. An Australian cast recording of the show was later released by Festival Records.[5]

In 2000, Waters appeared in a production of The Sound of Music, in which he played the part of Captain von Trapp, alongside Lisa McCune as Maria.

In 2005, Waters starred in David Williamson's play Influence as shock jock Ziggi Blasko. The play was performed in Sydney during March/April 2005 and in Melbourne in June/July 2005.[6][7]

In 2008, he played The Narrator in Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show at Star City Casino, Sydney.[8]

Waters has toured Australia in a critically acclaimed role alongside Brett Tucker in The Woman in Black.

In 2010 he starred in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of The Swimming Club, a play by Australian author Hannie Rayson.[1]

In 2013 Waters starred in The Addams Family musical as Gomez Addams. The production premiered in Sydney on 24 March 2013 and closed on 9 June 2013.[9][10]

In 2017, Waters played Ulysses in Music Theatre Melbourne's concert production of Paris. [11] He had previously played the role of Agamemnon on the musical's original concept album released in 1990.


Many Australians still remember Waters best from his nearly 20-year stint on the Australian children's series Play School, appearing from 1972 until 1991. During his tenure with Play School, he narrated various children's video trailers for ABC-TV.[12]

Among his best known television roles is that of the brooding Sergeant Robert McKellar in the 1974-76 television series Rush (revoiced and parodied by The D-Generation as The Olden Days on their comedy program The Late Show).

Waters also appeared in the 1983 Australian miniseries All the Rivers Run as Brenton Edwards.[1]

In 2002, he had a role in the short-lived drama Young Lions.

He played Perry Luscombe in Fireflies, which lasted for only one season, on ABC-TV in 2004.[13]

Waters joined the cast of All Saints in June 2006 as Mike Vlasek, the new head of surgery. He remained with the show until its cancellation in late 2009.

In 2010, Waters was a guest star in Sea Patrol as Sgt. Booker.

In 2010, Waters guest starred in City Homicide as William Clegg.

In 2012, Waters starred in the ABC TV mini-series The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, adapted from the novel by English writer Fergus Hume.[14] He currently appears on the Logie-award-winning television series Offspring, which completed filming its third season in 2013 and has been renewed for a further two seasons.[15][16]

From September 2015, Waters joined the cast of the fourth season of the ABC TV series Rake.

In 2018 Waters had a recurring role, as lawyer Travis James, on the ABC TV Series Mystery Road.


Waters played Capt. Alfred Taylor in the 1980 film Breaker Morant which starred British actor Edward Woodward as Harry "Breaker" Morant.

In 1982, Waters appeared in the World War II film Attack Force Z alongside Mel Gibson, John Phillip Law and Sam Neill.[17]

In 2013, Waters starred in a local regional film production created by Luis Bayonas, called Adios.[18]

In 1990, film critic David Stratton, referring to the films, wrote that in his opinion Waters "has been in more bad films than most other actors around".[19]

Other work

He has starred in many television advertisements for various companies including Cinzano, Bird's Eye, Bankers Trust, MBF Health Fund, Sudafed, Uncle Tobys, Qantas, Telstra, MLC, Arnotts and Toyota Hybrid Camry. He has narrated programs such as Mind Games: Real Life Adventures, Nostradamus and Triple Zero Heroes.[20]


In 1975, Waters won the Best New Talent award at the Logie Awards for his role in Division 4.

In 1988, he won the AFI Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role as character Tom Garfield in the Frank Howson-written film Boulevard of Broken Dreams.[21]

He has been nominated for several other awards, including Best Lead Actor (in 1978 for Weekend of Shadows) and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama (in 2006 for All Saints) at the AFI Awards, and for Most Popular Actor in a Telemovie or Mini-Series (in 1992 for Which Way Home) at the Logie Awards.

Personal life

Waters lives in the Southern Highlands, NSW with his third wife, Zoe Burton, and their three children. Waters also has two adult children from his first marriage.[1]

Community work

Waters lends his support to various community events including DUETS 2012, a concert to assist The Australian Children’s Music Foundation (ACMF) (founded by fellow Play School presenter Don Spencer) and Carols in the Domain 2012. He is an ambassador for The Australian Children’s Music Foundation.[22]


Year Title Role
1972Boney (TV series)Constable Peter Lloyd
1972Redheap (TV series)Jerry Arnold
1973Certain Women (TV series)
1973Ryan (TV series)Curt Valchek
1974–1975Division 4 (TV series) Darcy Dash - Barry Fielding
1975The Seven Ages of Man (TV series)
1975Quality of Mercy (TV series)
1976End PlayMark Gifford
1973–1976Homicide (TV series)Eddie Hughes - Howard Nelson - Alan Guthrie
1973–1976Matlock Police (TV series)Tim Ward - Constable Cook - Johno Johnson
1974–1976Rush (TV series)Sgt. Robert McKellar
1976The Haunting of Hewie Dowker (TV movie)Hewie Dowker
1976The Sullivans (TV series)Chris Merchant
1979The Rollicking Adventures of Eliza FraserDavid Bracefell
1977The Getting of WisdomRev. Shepherd
1977SummerfieldDavid Abbott
1977The Trial of Ned Kelly (TV movie)Ned Kelly
1978Weekend of ShadowsRabbit
1978Case for the Defence (TV series)Steve Gray
1978Cass (TV movie)Mike
1978The Scalp Merchant (TV movie)
1979Demolition (TV movie)Peter Clarke
1980Breaker Morant Captain Alfred Taylor
1980Bedfellows (TV movie)
1980Slippery Slide (TV movie)David
1981Attack Force ZSub Lt. Ted "Kingo" Kong
1983Five Mile Creek (TV series)Cameron
1984High Country (TV movie)Ben Lomax
1985I Can't Get StartedRobert
1986Passion Flower (TV movie)Leslie Gaitland
1986Alice to Nowhere (TV mini-series)Johnny Parson
1987Going SaneMartin Brown
1987The Last of the Mohicans (TV movie)Hawkeye Bumppp (voice)
1987Bushfire MoonPatrick O'Day
1987The PerfectionistStuart Gunn
1987Nancy Wake (TV series)Henri Fiocca
1988Captain Johnno (TV movie)Frank
1988Boulevard of Broken DreamsTom Garfield
1988Grievous Bodily HarmMorris Martin
1983–1990All the Rivers Run (TV series)Brenton Edwards
1990Heaven TonightJohnny Dysart
1991Which Way Home (TV movie)Steve Hannah
1991All Together Now (TV series) Lockie Burns
1992Kelly (TV series) Mr. Nichols
1993Singapore Sling (TV movie) John Stamford
1994EbbtideMichael Suresch
1995Asian Connection: Road to Mandalay (TV movie)John Stamford
1995Asian Connection: Old Flames (TV movie)John Stamford
1995Asian Connections: Midnight Orchid (TV movie)John Stamford
1996Snowy River: The McGregor Saga (TV series)Damien Winters
1997Good Guys, Bad Guys (TV series)Oscar Drake
1997Fallen Angels (TV series)Bob Tognetti
1998The Sugar FactorySam Lejeune
1998The Real MacawDr. Lance Magen
1999The Lost World (TV series)Lento
1999The Chameleon II: Death Match (TV movie)Henry Kubica
2000Tales of the South Seas (TV series) Robert Frye
2002Young Lions (TV series)Senior Detective Bill Martin
2003Evil Never Dies (TV movie)Professor Arkin
2004Fireflies (TV series) Perry Luscombe
2005ShealthBlack Ops Doctor
2005Late Shift (film short)Old Paul Bell
2006The BouncerDave
2006Carnivale Reflux (film short)Narrator (voice)
2006–2009All Saints (TV series)Dr. Miklos Vlasek
2010Underbelly (TV series)John Hatton
2010Sea Patrol (TV series)Sergeant Booker
2010Centre PlaceJack Houghton
2010City Homicide (TV series)William Clegg
2011Ragtime (film short)Dick
2012The Mystery of a Hansom Cab ( TV movie)Mark Frettiby
2013Return to Nim's IslandBooker
2013Worm (film short)Police Interviewer
2010–2014Offspring (TV series)Darcy Proudman
2014ANZAC Girls (TV miniseries)Colonel Thomas Fiaschi
2015Killers and Thieves (film short)The Fence
2016Virtual Dogs and Loaded GunsBank Customer
2016Rake (TV series) Edgar Thompson
2016The Faintest Clasp (film short)Voice
2017Three SummersEamon
2017The Doctor Blake Mysteries (TV series)Bernie Thompson
2016–2018Future-Worm! (TV series)Manchovy
2018Mystery Road (TV mini-series)Travis James
2018True Story with Hamish & Andy (TV series)
In production as of publicationMiss Fisher and the Crypt of TearsProfessor Linnaeus
Post-productionAt LastChristopher


  1. Waters enjoying his "Peter Pan existence". The Age, 25 March 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  2. Profile: John Waters. The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 April 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  3. John Waters : Looking Through A Glass Onion. Beat website. Retrieved 14 April 2013]
  4. "Broadway dream comes true for John Waters" by Vatherine Lambert, The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 January 2015
  5. They're Playing Our Song. The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 January 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  6. Influence. The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 March 2005. Retrieved 13 April 2013]
  7. Influence. The Age, 27 June 2005. Retrieved 13 April 2013]
  8. John Waters Cast in Rocky Horror Show. Australian Stage, 22 August 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  9. Sydney musical The Addams Family brings real heart and charm to the stage. The Telegraph, 24 March 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  10. End of The Addams Family, cast told. Herald Sun, 13 May 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013]
  12. Play Schooling for 45 years. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  13. John Waters talks about his new ABC TV series Fireflies. ABC Queensland. Retrieved 13 April 2013]
  14. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. ABC television. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  15. Offspring Cast. Network Ten. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  16. Offspring renewed for two more seasons. Network Ten. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  17. Attack Force Z. Archived 28 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine Melbourne Leader, 5 February 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2013]
  18. Local independent receives early acclaim. Surf Coast Times, 11 March 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013]
  19. David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p. 342
  20. John Waters. Archived 11 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine The Harbour Agency. Retrieved 14 April 2013]
  21. Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Australian Film Institute. Retrieved 12 April 2013]
  22. Duets – Annual Gala Charity Concert. Get Shot Magazine. Retrieved 13 April 2013]
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