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Ned Kelly - Gregor Jordan Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

EXTRACTS taken from the Australian press conference....

Q. What attracted you to the story of Ned Kelly?
A.
Look, I'd always been interested in bushrangers, ever since I was a little kid, I mean, I think most kids in Australia are. It's part of our colonial history.
Tim White, the executive producer, he actually approached me years ago about doing a possible bushranger story. Nothing ever really happened. But then about a year and a half ago, he came up and said, 'listen, Working Title have this script, would you be interested in looking at it?'
I had a look at it and I thought, 'hey, there's something here'. But I sort of said, 'I don't want to do it without Heath', because I couldn't think of anyone else to play the role.
I thought there was no way I wanted to … you know, I would do it without casting an Australian in the role. And having said that, there was only about two or three people in the world who are the right age and the right stature to play the role. And limiting it to an Australian meant that there was only one person to do it.
So I sent the script to Heath. He said, 'yes' and suddenly we were up and running.

Q. Did you find yourself having to leave stuff out?
A.
Look, it's tricky to tell a story that spans 25 years, try and tell it in two hours. You've got to leave stuff out, ultimately. And what gets left out and what gets put in is a tricky thing. I mean, I think it's very important to be historically accurate. And when you can't be, be in the spirit of historical accuracy.
The concessions made to fiction were usually around combining characters, condensing events. But alsoyou know, there's certain spaces in the story where there's gaps in the story.
Even though the story is actually fairly well documented historically, there's gaps in the story where you don't … you know, where you trying to tell the story of a character, you're going, 'well, hang on, how did he get from here to here, both emotionally and physically'.
And one of the biggest ones was during the Fitzpatrick incident, where … which was the event leading up to the whole Kelly outbreak, Ned wasn't there. But there's no record of where he was.
And then there's this whole thing about in the Jerilderie letter they talk about to get a kiss from … Ned actually says to get a kiss from Julia and there's no record in history of Ned actually having a girlfriend, or a wife, or anything like that. But we just sort of thought, you know, he's a passionate, very charismatic guy, there's no way women aren't going to find him cool. And the thing is, so we created this storyline.
It is historically … you know, it is fictitious, but it's not gratuitously so and the thing is, you know, it also … when you're trying to tell a story about who a guy really is and you're trying to show his real heart, then I think it's important to show a lot of sides to him.
So this storyline in Ned Kelly is a very important part of bringing out the character of Ned and Naomi does a fantastic job, because … and I guess that area of the storyline is the softer, gentler side of the storyline, to really let the audience into his heart.
So, yeah, historical accuracy is very important because you want … you know, you owe the Australian people … you have a responsibility to be accurate about these things. It's not something you can be flippant about. I mean, this guy is very important to a lot of people in Australia.
But the liberties and the licence we took, I don't think it's outrageous. I don't think we've done anything gratuitous.

Q. There have been numerous attempts to tell the story of Ned Kelly, what makes you think you got it right?
A.
I think the main reason is because we found a good Ned. There's very few actors who can play this role. I mean, I can see why they cast Mick Jagger in the role, because he had this sort of … I mean, in the early '70s, Mick Jagger was the ultimate rock and roll rebel. And Ned Kelly was a rock and roll rebel. But the thing is there's something inherently British about Mick Jagger. And also size-wise, he's not a big guy like Ned was.
And if you think about the history of the Australian cinema, there hasn't been that many actors who - Australian actors, who can play this role. And without an actor to play the role, the film is dead, you know, there's no point in making it, I think.
And so I think we're at a unique point, like Heath, you know, Heath is right for the role. He's the right age, he's the right size, he's got the right sort of creds in terms of international box office. And he's an Australian.
So I think that's a big part of it, to be perfectly honest.

Q. How do you think the film is going to translate overseas?
A.
Look, it's a good yarn and it means something different to international audiences to what it does to Australians. I mean, Ned Kelly is part of our culture, he's part of our cultural heritage. Whereas to Americans and Brits and Europeans, you know, he's just some guy who's part of some other country's history.
But having said that, it's a great story. It's an outrageous story. And I think for that reason alone, what has made him appealing to Australians over the years, I think there's no reason why an international audience can't find the same appeal.

Q. Was Ned Kelly a criminal? Was he in fact a cold-hearted killer? And a thief?
A.
Look, it is a very subjective thing. If you talk to members of the legal fraternity or the justice system or even the police force, there's certain people there who think he was … who say Ned Kelly was a scumbag, and he was a cop killer, and he deserved to be hung. But, look, you know, my personal opinion as the film-maker is that he was a guy who was a victim of circumstance.
He was a combination of his situation, the politics of the time, which were the politics of Ireland and England. It was his personality. He was a guy who would not back down from a fight. And it was the personalities of the police who were around him that sort of fired him up and got it all going.
And you know, there was the Australianness of it as well. The bush and the harshness of the environment. All just added up to make this thing happen. I don't believe Ned was an evil guy at all. I think under different circumstances, he would have been … he could have been a really great man. He could have been … he was a natural leader, I think he could have been a politician.

 

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