Actor and Author, William McInnes – the boy from Redcliffe, who signs a lot of books and loves a chat. Photo by L.J. May.

Writer Watch

William McInnes



A Quick Recap – Writing

WILLIAM MCINNES is a very popular Australian actor, writer, columnist and raconteur. He was born and grew up in Redcliffe, Queensland and now lives in Melbourne with his two children. As an award-winning actor, he won two Logies and an AFI Award for Best Actor for his role in the film Unfinished Sky and received critical and public acclaim for his leading role in the film Look Both Ways, written and directed by his wife, artist and filmmaker Sarah Watt.

While still acting, William found a new vocation as a writer, and delighted readers with very funny memoirs about his father and growing up in Redcliffe, A Man’s Got to Have a Hobby and That’d Be Right. For more about Bill’s writing, see the main profile article below.

A Man's Got to Have a Hobby was selected as one of the Books Alive 50 Great Reads and William was named Australian Newcomer of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs). In 2007, his novel Cricket Kings was shortlisted in the Australian General Fiction Book of the Year category at the ABIAs. In 2006, Worse Things Happen at Sea, a celebration of family life in words and pictures co-written by Bill and his wife Sarah Watt, was named best non-fiction title in the ABIAs and the Indie Awards in 2012.

What’s New?

William McInnes’s new novel The Birdwatchers (see cover photo bottom left) was published in October 2013, and is about love, twitchers and learning to trust. It’s a story about a bloke who's losing his hearing; a bird that can't fly but likes being read to; and a teenage daughter who doesn't know who to be angry at. It's about a woman living with the echo of illness finding out how much fun it can be to trust someone; a man called Murph who has a secret; and Perry Como.

It's part love story and part Hot Diggity moments of discovery. But, most of all, it's about giving yourself the gift to be still while you wait for the lights to change or the rain to stop, so that you have time to think. There is magic in the sky. Birds flying and floating above and around us, often unnoticed. Sometimes, when you least expect it, their magic will touch you. For all of us, there are memories and secrets that can change our lives – if we let them.


‘A born storyteller.’ The Age.

‘William McInnes has made a career of playing pretty uptight, taciturn types after hitting our screens as a romantic lead in SeaChange. But we know he can be very funny and very laid back in his observations of Aussie backyard life and its rituals. [The novel]...has his trademark laconic larrikin tone and a meandering, slow pace that takes its unhurried rhythm from the careful patience of birdwatchers (of which he is one). This gentle story underlines the way human and bird behaviour share certain characteristics from ruffled feathers to mating rituals.’ Caroline Baum.

A Quick Recap – Acting

One of Australia’s most popular and recognisable actors, William McInnes’s TV roles in Blue Heelers and SeaChange made him a household name, the mini-series Shark Net and My Brother Jack earned him widespread critical acclaim, and cameo appearances on the landmark Australian sitcom Kath & Kim cracked us up. Bill has been nominated for numerous stage and screen awards, won a Variety Club Drama Award in 1997 and two Logie awards for Most Outstanding Actor in 2000 and 2004.

What’s New?

In 2013 Bill starred in the new ABC television drama series The Time of Our Lives, along with an outstanding cast which included Claudia Karvan, Justine Clarke, Shane Jacobson and Stephen Curry. From The Secret Life of Us co-creator Amanda Higgs and writer Judi McCrossin, the 13-part series followed the lives of the extended Tivolli clan, a typical extended Australian family, whose members, aged in their thirties and forties, are encountering the most frantic and busiest times of their lives – kids, career advancement, home ownership, settling in with the one you love; still trying to find the one you love and, most of all, getting away from the one you used to love. Go here to follow the episodes at

And that’s the end of the news update for now!


William McInnes

William McInnes is a very tall man – height: 6 ft 4 inches (please, I don’t do conversions). He was born to Col and Iris McInnes on 10 September 1963 in the town of Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia (which is about 40 km north of the capital city of Brisbane) and is the youngest of five children.

William graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 1988.

He told the ABC’s Australian Story: ‘When I went off to drama school, off to Perth, to WAAPA, I'd enrolled in law. My father thought I was off to do that, and when he found out, he sort of looked me and said, "Where are you going?" I said, "Off to Perth." He said, "What for?" I said, "Oh, well, to study theatre." I couldn't even say I was going to do this acting course. He sort of looked at me and said, "No son of mine's going to be a pissed-upon actor." And that is, in essence, what I grew up with, thinking, oh, yeah, it's a pretty stupid way to make a living.’

Nevertheless, as an actor, William McInnes’s many TV roles have made him a household name. He worked for four years on Blue Heelers playing Sergeant Nicholas ‘Nick’ Schultz, a copper in a small country town that had more violence and corpses than Midsomer Murders.

He followed David Wenham’s character ‘Diver Dan’ into SeaChange (naturally! – following David Wenham is par for the course for Bill), where he played Max Connors, Laura’s new love interest in Pearl Bay.

In an interview with Australian Story, William said of that experience: ‘I mean, that thing in SeaChange was probably – to be completely honest, you know, it was probably a better role than I thought it was, maybe. But it was to me it was, like, you know, I had to go off to the gym and put fake tan on and have my hair dyed and make my eyes look as blue as possible. That's why I wore blue shirts all the time.’

In the same interview, SeaChange’s co-creator Andrew Knight said: ‘Sally Ayre-Smith, the producer of the program, became obsessed with Will's torso to the point that Will would be constantly having to remove his shirt, and I would be sending notes saying, “I'm over seeing this man's nipples.” But Will thought this was hysterical. The idea that he was sexually appealing to anyone – including his wife, I think – was a miracle for Will.

Even so, William McInnes was named one of ‘TV’s Sexiest Stars’ by TV Week magazine. If he was ever in danger of becoming vain about this accolade, one female fan put him in his place when she told him that he would be quite handsome if he didn’t have such a big nose.

Mini-series such as Shark Net and My Brother Jack earned William widespread critical acclaim and showed him to be an actor of extraordinary depth. His cameo performance in the comedy TV program Kath & Kim, on the other hand, cracked us up. Bill was also no stranger to the theatre and his stage performances were also very well received.

William McInnes has been nominated for many stage and screen awards (but not for as many Logies as John Wood). In 1997 he won a Variety Club Drama Award and also two Logie awards for ‘Most Outstanding Actor’ – in 2000 for playing Max Connors in SeaChange and again in 2002 for My Brother Jack.

After pottering around writing the occasional article for newspapers, he wrote a column for the Australian Women’s Weekly called ‘William Tells’ (groan). This only encouraged him, and in 2006 his first book, A Man’s Got to Have a Hobby, was published to great acclaim, which astonished him more than it surprised anyone else.

More William...P.2


Out now - December 2013! Book cover photo courtesy of Hachette Australia.