Have you ever read an Esquire magazine feature interview? They always read a little like this. “He glides into the bar. A black jacket falls from his shoulders like the waters of Niagra Falls. He shuffles in his seat. Uncomfortable. There’s wonder in his eye. Is he keeping the world’s secrets to himself?”
No. He’s not. He’s an actor who doesn’t have a fucking clue about what’s going on in the world. But the interview makes you feel that way. Surely if Esquire were to interview anyone, the end result would be the same. So, to test out my theory I contacted Esquire to interview me. Their responses were all really positive.
“Who are you?”… “How did you get my home number?”… “Was that you outside our office again?”
With Esquire busy trying to find a time to fit me in. I couldn’t wait. I wanted the world to see how mysterious and intriguing I was. So, I took matters into my own hands.
Tom Davies on his six years in America, and why he’s just getting started.
Our latest cover star is more Hugh Jackman than Steve Irwin, but hey, that’s alright with us.
For the last few months at Esquire, we’ve had one burning question on our lips. Well, two questions. How the hell do we stay logged into both our work and personal emails at the same time, and – who is the real Tom Davies? We hired a guy to solve question one, and sat down with the man himself to tackle question two.
We met at a dive bar in downtown San Francisco. It was the kind of bar that is too small for a pool table but has one anyway. The lighting was like something you’d expect at a 1920’s Speakeasy. Hell, this might even be one. He wore a pair of tapered jeans with white Havaianas and a simple t-shirt. Straight from the beaches of Sydney, I’d have guessed. You get the impression that if we hadn’t scheduled this interview, he’d have been here anyway.
His bright smile and Australian accent lit up the room immediately. He’s the loudest in the room, right where he wants to be. He hands me a Tecate to go with the one I’d already ordered. Something tells me we’ll have a few more before we’re done. He sits cross-legged opposite from me, staring me down with his green, wait, no, hazel eyes. He’s reading me. Not cynically. Inquisitively. He breaks the silence.
“G’day mate.” I reach for a handshake, but he goes in for a hug. Not just a ‘Nice to meet you hug’ but a ‘You make me feel like home’ kind of hug. We’re already mates. “Let’s get this started. I’ve got a couple errands to run later and I hate being late.”
It’s true. He’s always on time. “When I was younger, I played all my sport in the surrounding cities.” He’s an athlete, you can tell. His broad shoulders are part design, part hard work, and he looks like he could run a marathon tomorrow. “If training finished early, my parents would be late. The coach hated having to wait with me until they arrived, so I developed this strong value for being on time.”
He continues to chatter on about his parents. How they would drive him to and from Canberra, Australia’s capital city, an hour and a half from their hometown. All for his dream of becoming a professional soccer player. He whips out his iPhone and begins swiping through photos of the Davies family. “That’s my Dad, Floyd. I got my nose from him. They say that if we were to follow our noses, we’d go in circles. There’s Mum. She was my teacher and was always so full of energy and excited to teach.” He continues on to point out his siblings. His brother, Jack, lives in England. His sister, Claerwen, is a nursing student in Australia.
The waitress lowered two Tecates onto our table. Tom looked up and caught her eye. With a cheeky smile and a “Thanks, mate”, she walked away. He’s been in the United States for six years, his accent as strong as the day he left. “I need it. I’d never get girls without it.” He says it with a smile. I can’t read him. We move on.
I decided to press him on current affairs. “I’m not sure where it came from, my interest in human rights. It seems to have popped up a few years ago and is something I’m conscious of every day.” He doesn’t just talk the talk. Tom spent two years working for Not For Sale, an NGO supporting victims of human trafficking. “There was a moment when I realized, ‘Wait a second. Why shouldn’t we have marriage equality? Or a greater willingness to open borders to migrants and refugees in Australia? How is that fair?'”
I want to go deeper. And we do. “What are my dreams?” He feeds back to me. “I want to live a life full of great stories. Whenever I’m faced with a tough decision, I’ll ask myself ‘what will make the best story?’ and go with that. I adopted that from my Dad, and it serves me well every day. My parents worked hard to take us overseas as kids. We travelled throughout North America, Europe and Africa. It left a lasting impression on me. I want to build a life that lets me do the same for my family.”
Tom’s journey that led him to this barstool from Australia is certainly one of those great stories. Leaving Australia before finishing high school, Tom took up a soccer scholarship in Kentucky (you read that right, Kentucky). After winning a national championship, he moved to San Francisco. “I loved Kentucky. But I was living in a small university town and I wanted to see more of America. One day my friend Chris Williams called me up and said ‘Tommy, you want to go to California? Say the word and I’ll sort it out.’ I told him to look into it for me and within minutes calls me back ‘Mate, you’re all set’. So, I moved to San Francisco.”
It seems that Tom and I have far more in common that I had first imagined. He, too, is a writer with a steady following online at a blog he built himself, aptly named Tom’s Blogs. “I’ve been writing on and off for the last few years.” His eyes brighten and he sits forward in his chair. “I once wrote an Esquire magazine interview of myself. It was what really launched all of my success.” How creative.
He finishes another Tecate, like its water. Compared to Australian beer, it probably is. There’s more to him. I can tell. And I think he wants to tell me.
“Do you believe in God?” Before I can answer, he goes on. “Religion fascinates me. I love what it means to different people.” I did my homework before arriving today, and religion is a common theme in the family. Tom’s grandparents were missionaries in Tanzania, where his Mum was born. His sister, Claerwen, has been involved in the Anglican church for many years. “I consider myself a humanist. I love people. I love how we interact. Relationships with friends and family are important to me.”
It seems odd that someone so close to his family would spend most of his time so far away. “Australia will always be there. My family will always be there. So I’m in no hurry to go home.” Of all the cities and countries, why here? “My Dad is a businessman. My brother is in business. I’ve wanted to learn all I can about how companies grow and develop. San Francisco is ten years ahead of Australia.”
So, with that, it seems we’ll have Tom here a little longer. With his charismatic smile and youthful exuberance, I think I speak for most Americans in saying that that is quite alright with us.
Photographs by Kevin Meynell. Styling by Tom’s Mum.