The last Australia saw of comedian Mick Molloy he was surrendering his car space at the Channel 9 car park, now, headlining his first feature film, the lawn bowls-themed “Crackerjack”, Molloy tells CLINT MORRIS, the reason he decided to hit celluloid was because it was the only option left for him. We catch up with Molloy, and co-stars Samuel Johnson and Judith Lucy, at, somewhat appropriately the Richmond Bowling Club.
“I seriously did run out of options, I’d been thrown out of every other Industry in Australia, so it was either films or theatre restaurants”, Molloy jokes.
“(Doing a film) it felt like putting the long pants on and sitting at the Adults table. Radio is pretty casual, and TV is much more disposable. You’re creating something here that, if it goes well, will be something for the ages. It was a different thing altogether and that’s why I was attracted really. We wanted to crack the last frontier”.
Aside from Television, Australia knew Molloy best for his high rating radio show with Tony Martin, but says it went kaput because Aussies were sick of the Mick. “I think Australians were sick of my voice”, jokes Molloy. “We (Tony) and I will return one day. I’d love to do a radio show with Judith (Lucy) too actually. Sam’s a green kid but you never know. Actually you hear Sam’s voice on radio more than anyone else”.
So what were the specials at Hungry Jacks that day? “Ah, I don’t know. I do the voices a couple of months ahead.” Johnson, voice-over extraordinaire replies. “Whooper with fries. Ohhhh yeaaah”, he jokes. “Oh I want one”, responds Molloy.
Molloy says it was actually a little nerve-wracking getting in front of a camera again. “Actually it was a bit scary. TV’s TV but when your see your face on a 30 foot screen, it’s quite a humbling experience. It’s just a little too large. Once you get over that, after you’ve watched it so many times, you forget about it”.
Molloy explains that the reason he wrote a movie about Lawn bowling is because it was an original idea. “There wasn’t a film already made, it seemed like an opening in the market, and it happened quite naturally. We were down here (The Richmond Bowling Club) doing some filming for something else altogether and we ended up becoming colourful local identities. And after a while we were sitting at the bar thinking what can we write a film about, then it dawned on us that maybe we were sitting in it. So we went on the road for two months, went to Bowling Clubs all over Country Victoria and came back and set about writing it”.
“There seems to be an interest or more of an awareness about Lawn Bowls to young people now. But Clubs like the one we’re sitting in now would dearly love it if they got 10 new members. That would be an absolute win for them”.
But Molloy says he had no idea how to pen a screenplay. “We had to go back to school, read all the textbooks. We consider ourselves to be writers first, mainly because no one else wants to do it, But writings my favourite thing in the world so any new excursion into that world is great for me, and that’s why we wanted to do film because we hadn’t done it”.
“We were lucky because it was written for all the performers. Sam was the only one who surprised us in the audition, but every other character in the piece was written for someone.”
And can Molloy play the sport now? “Oh, I play socially” he laughs. “I’m not about to hit the pennant circuit.”
Johnson, best known for his work on TV’s “The Secret Life of Us”, jumped at the chance to do his first feature film. “First film to be released actually”, contests Johnson. “I would have done anything required for the role of Dave, and I was very happy with the editing (especially in those topless scenes)”.
“Sam turned up for his audition and basically togged off and stuck his head in the cupboard”, Molloy adds. “There was a scene where he was supposed to be fishing around in the fridge for some drinks. He walked in, took off the pants, stuck his head in the cupboard and we recorded it”.
Johnson says his character on TV is quite similar to Dave in the film. “There are some similarities. They both look and sound like the same guy. Dave just gets the best out of simple things, you know, Marijuana, Beer, Friends, Sunshine. I revelled in his simplicity, and I loved how he wasn’t angst ridden like Evan, and you know he was an easy-come easy-go take it as it comes take it all in his stride kind of guy and it was great that he ended up getting a purpose in life”, he says. “It was a real delight just to be a guy that’s really good at just hanging around”.
Johnson says he might return the favour by getting Molloy a role in “The Secret Life of Us”. “I couldn’t think of anything he’d like to do more”, jokes Johnston.
“I’d like to come in and shake it up a bit”, says Molloy.
“Yes, get him in the Fu-Bar to keep it real”, responds Johnson.
“Karaoke. I could sing the rose”, says Molloy.
Judith Lucy, who worked with Molloy on TV’s “The Late Show”, says she had to wrap her head around playing Mick’s love interest. “So she wouldn’t be embarrassed we decided to sleep together first”, jokes Molloy. “Yes Mick just did that to put me at ease”, responds Lucy. “Got into a couple of slabs and before you knew it was all on”.
Molloy says as soon as he’s finished doing the publicity rounds he’ll start working on the DVD. “We’ve got a couple of deleted scenes which will work well. There’s a slow speed car chase, which amused us greatly but it came at the wrong time of the film. A little late in the piece, and I’d like to do a few different commentary tracks, Maybe one with Paul Maloney, the director, maybe one from me and Roo, and maybe one from the actors”.
Johnson’s back to work on “Secret Life” in December, but says he’s glad he got time off to do the film. “I was glad I could fit it in. I’ll be fighting the powers that be for the sequel.”
Lucy says she’s unemployed now, but ‘taking offers’, while Mick is next appearing in Tony Martin’s debut feature “Bad Eggs”. “Yeah, Judith’s in it too. Its out March or April. That was a load of fun too. We had a ball”.
CRACKERJACK Commences November 7