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John Waters
John Waters (Australian actor).jpg
Waters in May 2012
John Russell Waters

8 December 1948 (1948-12-08) (age 72)
London, England
  • Actor (television and film)
  • musician
  • songwriter
  • playwright
  • theatre performer
  • TV presenter

John Russell Waters (born 8 December 1948) is an English-born Australian 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. John Waters has been in the industry for over 50 years, and was part of the Australian children's television series Play School for 18 years.



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.

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. In 2014, it played 120 performances at the Union Square Theatre in Manhattan.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

In 2017, Waters played Ulysses in Music Theatre Melbourne's concert production of Paris. 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.

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.

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.

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. He appeared on the Logie-award-winning television series Offspring, which completed filming its third season in 2013 and was renewed for a further two seasons.

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.

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

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".

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.


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.

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.

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.


Year Title Role
1972 Boney (TV series) Constable Peter Lloyd
1972 Redheap (TV series) Jerry Arnold
1973 Certain Women (TV series)
1973 Ryan (TV series) Curt Valchek
1974–1975 Division 4 (TV series) Darcy Dash - Barry Fielding
1975 The Seven Ages of Man (TV series)
1975 Quality of Mercy (TV series)
1976 End Play Mark Gifford
1973–1976 Homicide (TV series) Eddie Hughes - Howard Nelson - Alan Guthrie
1973–1976 Matlock Police (TV series) Tim Ward - Constable Cook - Johno Johnson
1974–1976 Rush (TV series) Sgt. Robert McKellar
1976 The Haunting of Hewie Dowker (TV movie) Hewie Dowker
1976 The Sullivans (TV series) Chris Merchant
1979 The Rollicking Adventures of Eliza Fraser David Bracefell
1977 The Getting of Wisdom Rev. Shepherd
1977 Summerfield David Abbott
1977 The Trial of Ned Kelly (TV movie) Ned Kelly
1978 Weekend of Shadows Rabbit
1978 Case for the Defence (TV series) Steve Gray
1978 Cass (TV movie) Mike
1978 The Scalp Merchant (TV movie)
1979 Demolition (TV movie) Peter Clarke
1980 Breaker Morant Captain Alfred Taylor
1980 Bedfellows (TV movie)
1980 Slippery Slide (TV movie) David
1981 Attack Force Z Sub Lt. Ted "Kingo" Kong
1983 Five Mile Creek (TV series) Cameron
1984 High Country (TV movie) Ben Lomax
1985 I Can't Get Started Robert
1986 Passion Flower (TV movie) Leslie Gaitland
1986 Alice to Nowhere (TV mini-series) Johnny Parson
1987 Going Sane Martin Brown
1987 The Last of the Mohicans (TV movie) Hawkeye Bumppp (voice)
1987 Bushfire Moon Patrick O'Day
1987 The Perfectionist Stuart Gunn
1987 Nancy Wake (TV series) Henri Fiocca
1988 Captain Johnno (TV movie) Frank
1988 Boulevard of Broken Dreams Tom Garfield
1988 Grievous Bodily Harm Morris Martin
1983–1990 All the Rivers Run (TV series) Brenton Edwards
1990 Heaven Tonight Johnny Dysart
1991 Which Way Home (TV movie) Steve Hannah
1991 All Together Now (TV series) Lockie Burns
1992 Kelly (TV series) Mr. Nichols
1993 Singapore Sling (TV movie) John Stamford
1994 Ebbtide Michael Suresch
1995 Asian Connection: Road to Mandalay (TV movie) John Stamford
1995 Asian Connection: Old Flames (TV movie) John Stamford
1995 Asian Connections: Midnight Orchid (TV movie) John Stamford
1996 Snowy River: The McGregor Saga (TV series) Damien Winters
1997 Good Guys, Bad Guys (TV series) Oscar Drake
1997 Fallen Angels (TV series) Bob Tognetti
1998 The Sugar Factory Sam Lejeune
1998 The Real Macaw Dr. Lance Magen
1999 The Lost World (TV series) Lento
1999 The Chameleon II: Death Match (TV movie) Henry Kubica
2000 Tales of the South Seas (TV series) Robert Frye
2002 Young Lions (TV series) Senior Detective Bill Martin
2003 Evil Never Dies [it] (TV movie) Professor Arkin
2004 Fireflies (TV series) Perry Luscombe
2005 Stealth Black Ops Doctor
2005 Late Shift (film short) Old Paul Bell
2006 The Bouncer Dave
2006 Carnivale Reflux (film short) Narrator (voice)
2006–2009 All Saints (TV series) Dr. Miklos Vlasek
2010 Underbelly (TV series) John Hatton
2010 Sea Patrol (TV series) Sergeant Booker
2010 Centre Place Jack Houghton
2010 City Homicide (TV series) William Clegg
2011 Ragtime (film short) Dick
2012 The Mystery of a Hansom Cab ( TV movie) Mark Frettiby
2013 Return to Nim's Island Booker
2013 Worm (film short) Police Interviewer
2010–2014 Offspring (TV series) Darcy Proudman
2014 ANZAC Girls (TV miniseries) Colonel Thomas Fiaschi
2015 Killers and Thieves (film short) The Fence
2016 Virtual Dogs and Loaded Guns Bank Customer
2016 Rake (TV series) Edgar Thompson
2016 The Faintest Clasp (film short) Voice
2017 2.22 Bill
2017 Three Summers Eamon
2017 The Doctor Blake Mysteries (TV series) Bernie Thompson
2016–2018 Future-Worm! (TV series) Manchovy
2018 Mystery Road (TV mini-series) Travis James
2018 True Story with Hamish & Andy (TV series)
2020 Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears Professor Linnaeus
2020 At Last Christopher
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