ABC TV Mystery Road star Aaron Pedersen has won the inaugural AACTA International Award for Best Actor in a Series, trumping a strong field of nominees from Europe and the United States.
Pedersen’s role as Detective Jay Swan in the Indigenous-led drama series was recognised by members of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts in the peer-judged award, which honours the best achievements in screen excellence from around the world.
The other nominees for the Best Actor in a Series Award were Jason Bateman for Ozark, Hugh Grant for The Undoing, Daniel Levy for Schitt’s Creek and Paul Mescal for Normal People.
Sally Riley, ABC Head Drama, Entertainment & Indigenous content, said Pedersen’s award was well-deserved for his leading role in Mystery Road. “Aaron is an iconic Australian actor. Audiences absolutely love him because he’s charismatic and totally engaging on screen.
“He totally inhabits his role in Mystery Road, which was conceived for him. Like all great actors, he has a stillness that resonates and one look will convey a thousand words. No one else could play Jay Swan – the character fits him like a glove.”
Pedersen said he was grateful and humbled by the award. “What can I say about my contemporaries nominated for this award except they are some of the greatest actors on the planet, in some of the best shows ever made. For me to be in such exalted company is truly a great honour. Thank you.
“I also want to acknowledge the Mystery Road series and what it says about Australia, our true identity and our history. I am so proud it is a First Nations series that is the top-rating drama on Australian television.
“Finally, I want to thank my brother Ivan Sen for conceiving of my Mystery Road character, Detective Jay Swan. It is the role of a lifetime.”
Mystery Road, produced by Bunya Productions, was nominated for the AACTA International Award for Best Drama Series. The outback drama won the 2020 AACTA Award for Best Drama Series.
In February, Pedersen was honoured at the G’Day USA gala for excellence in television, making him the first Indigenous recipient of the award. Pedersen can also be seen on ABC TV as the host of the Australia Remastered documentary series.
The full list of AACTA International Award winners is available here.