Before he turned certainly one of Australia’s best-loved actors, Jack Thompson had already been many issues. On the age of 15, he turned a jackaroo within the Northern Territory, engaged on the distant cattle station of Elkedra. There, he says, he noticed a life that not exists. At camp, he was the one white particular person among the many grownup Alyawarra males.
It was nice preparation for his cinematic work within the Seventies and early 80s when he turned an icon of the Australian New Wave, taking main and supporting roles in classics together with Sunday Too Far Away (1975), The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Breaker Morant (1980) and The Man from Snowy River (1982).
It additionally made him the plain option to file a voiceover for Our Nation, a 40-screen, 360-degree celebration of Australia’s pure panorama and wildlife by Australian Geographic, in partnership with Tourism Australia. Curated by Karina Holden, and now open in Brisbane, it collates the work of 25 cinematographers who spent a mixed 100,000 hours within the subject.
Now 82, Thompson lives in northern New South Wales; he spoke to Guardian Australia in good humour – and with that particular voice intact.
Inform us about Our Nation.
Nicely, it truly is essentially the most extraordinary cinematic occasion. It reminds you of the place we truly stay; what we are literally part of. I feel all of us stay our lives in rooms, in homes or places of work or no matter. However we’re additionally residing on this large surroundings that’s our heritage and our duty.
Do you spend a lot time travelling regionally? It’s not arduous to think about you as a gray nomad in a camper.
Ha ha ha. A really gray nomad! I don’t journey a lot as a result of I’m on hemodialysis [for kidney disease] three days per week. Though I’ve been capable of make a few films on dialysis, and the wonderful purple truck in Alice Springs supplied dialysis for me after we shot Excessive Floor. I might journey much more if I may.
Your consuming days have to be behind you, then. What’s the drink you have when you’re not having a drink?
Ha ha ha ha! The title of it [Clayton’s, a non-alcoholic beverage] handed into the dictionary, as a result of it was talked about in parliament – somebody mentioned “this can be a Clayton’s parliament”. It’s there within the Macquarie!
Our Nation is a celebration of the great thing about the Australian surroundings. Hearth and flood and drought are ingrained into Australian mythology, not least by Dorothea MacKellar’s poem. The place have been you on the time of the black summer season fires?
I used to be right here in jap NSW, on the coast. I keep in mind it clearly. The place I used to be, the fires didn’t do any harm in any respect. However I used to be appalled. It was devastating.
I feel that it definitely introduced the surroundings to the eye of individuals in a really totally different manner. It was one thing that was not talked about simply as a trigger – it’s the place our associates have homes and farms.
Wake in Fright was your first movie position of observe, which was not commercially profitable on the time. How has it felt to see that movie develop into so celebrated a long time after its launch?
Oh, it’s great. When it was first launched [in 1971] it ran for seven days in Sydney and 10 days in Melbourne, and folks left the theatre in droves saying “that’s not Australia! This isn’t who we’re!” And naturally, since then realised it is who we’re – not fully who we’re, however a part of who we’re.
It was additionally Chips Rafferty’s final position. He was an icon of Australian masculinity earlier than you assumed that mantle within the Seventies.
He definitely was. He was additionally the token Australian in some American movies – for those who needed an Australian, you bought Chips Rafferty; that’s what an Australian seemed like.
Talking of masculinity: you might be one of many few blonde males in historical past to get away with a moustache, throughout a time when the mo dominated – Dennis Lillee, Rod Marsh, John Newcombe, the Solo Man. Is it time to deliver again the ’tache?
Ha ha ha! Nicely, I had a nice ’tache in step with these different chaps you point out in Bruce Beresford’s movie, The Club. On the time, Tom Hafey was teaching Collingwood and coaching the actors for the film. It was fairly robust going. I used to be as match as I used to be ever going to be enjoying Laurie. It’s a beautiful piece of David Williamson’s writing, too. Each scene is an argument!
It was Worldwide Girls’s Day final week and my associate insisted I ask you about your contribution to Australian feminism by posing for Cleo as Australia’s first male centrefold in 1972. How does that really feel to look again on?
I feel that was unbelievable. It was very efficient. There had already been a male centrefold in Cosmopolitan within the US [Burt Reynolds], after which Cleo determined to emulate that.
On the time, after they tried to open Hair on the previous Metro in Sydney, there have been picket traces to cease folks shopping for tickets due to the nudity on stage. And nudity isn’t a giant challenge for me.
What have been your impressions of Ita Buttrose again then?
She was very nice and really persuasive. I didn’t want persuading, although.
You acted in an previous favorite of mine in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence . What are your reminiscences of working with David Bowie, on the apex of his fame?
He was great to work with. I keep in mind after a rehearsal session he mentioned to Tom Conti and me: “You two are the actors; I’m not. Should you see something you assume I’m not doing, or needs to be doing, please don’t hesitate to inform me, I’d be very grateful.” He was an clever and really modest man.
Two administrators you labored with on a number of events, who even have quite a bit to say about Australia, have been Bruce Beresford and Baz Luhrmann. How totally different are their approaches to film-making?
Very totally different. Bruce is extra historically centered on the making of the movie and the modifying of it. Baz is from the following technology; he’s working principally with video. You don’t have to attend for dailies or rushes any extra, you may simply play it again! However it’s fairly thrilling working with Baz, I liked it.
Any last phrases on Australia, who we’re and the place we’re going?
Let’s do the appropriate factor and provides a giant sure on the referendum. I feel that’s our duty as Australians.