UP FOR THE LONG HAUL: Samuel Johnson makes his way through Tewantin in November 2013.
UP FOR THE LONG HAUL: Samuel Johnson makes his way through Tewantin in November 2013. Geoff Potter Contributed

‘Molly’ gives up acting to fight war on cancer

LEADING Australian actor Samuel Johnson, who rode a unicycle around Australia in honour of his terminally ill sister, has announced his retirement from acting so he can devote himself to fundraising for cancer research.

Johnson, who played Molly Meldrum in the recent TV mini-series Molly, broke the news to his 300,000 followers on his Love Your Sister Facebook page.

"I can't act anymore. Not if I'm to serve you properly," he wrote in an emotional post.

"I'm tired of other things dragging me away from you.

"It all started with a promise to my crook sister. I unicycled for her. But not for long.

"As I squiggled my way slowly through this brilliant country of ours, I met many of you in person, in the same boat as me, and soon enough I was riding for all of us, for every family in this country being terrorised by cancer.

"I cannot play pretend on telly while our families are falling."

IN IT TOGETHER: Samuel Johnson with his sister Connie, the inspiration for the actor’s Love Your Sister campaign.
IN IT TOGETHER: Samuel Johnson with his sister Connie, the inspiration for the actor’s Love Your Sister campaign. Contributed

Best known for his roles on The Secret Life of Us and Rush, Johnson runs the breast cancer fundraising charity Love Your Sister with his sister Connie, who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer at the age of 33.

Johnson, 37, has already raised more than $2.3 million but wants to do more.

"Cancer is the last true riddle of our time (not of our doing) and I wanna be part of the push to solve it once and for all,' he wrote.

"To be honest, something's gotta kill us. I don't really have such a problem with cancer if it attacks someone after they've enjoyed a full life - fair price.

"But when it cuts down mums before they can see their kids grow, when it takes out innocent children ...well, then I get majorly offended.

"I won't play pretend on television while science is being murdered.

"Not while federal funding for research remains static for 10 years.

"Not while the CSIRO is being bulldozed.

"Not while climate science is still being denied.

"Not until I fulfil my promise to you."

Following what he described as his "unicycling absurdity" Johnson promised he would help raise $10 million for "those brilliant bloody scientists and researchers" at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

"Like I showed with my one-wheeled promise to my poor terminal sister, I'm good for it," he wrote.

"But I can't keep my promise as it stands. We raised $1.4 million in our first year, $800,000 in our second year and last year, down to $200,000.

"We're not going to get there if I'm off gallivanting. So I won't. Not until we get to that $10 million and show those faceless f**** at the top end of town just how serious we are about research here at ground level."

CONVINCING: Samuel Johnson as music guru Molly Meldrum.
CONVINCING: Samuel Johnson as music guru Molly Meldrum.

Johnson said he still loved acting after 25 years in the industry, describing it as "the best job in the world", but said volunteering to help beat cancer "kinda wins hands down - no contest".

If it weren't for his commitments in filming Molly, he said he would have retired sooner.

Describing his new career as "a war", Johnson said he would be "going all out", building an army to make science and research more relevant again.

And some of the biggest names in Australia were already on board, including Tim Minchin, Meshel Laurie, Danny Green, Shaun Tan, Nick Riewoldt, Tom Gleeson, Denise Scott, Michael Leunig, Deb Mailman, Michael Gudinski, Sam Mac and Shaun Micallef .

"And I'll stop at nothing," Johnson said.


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