One of Australia’s most accomplished actors (and writers – you can check out his fine typesman-ship in ”Ten Empty”) and in-demand actors (he’s appeared in ”The Square”, ”Beneath Hill 60” and ”Look Both Ways” – to name but a few), Anthony Hayes jumped at the chance to appear in writer/director David Michod’s ”Animal Kingdom”, telling CLINT MORRIS he couldn’t resist being involved in something that was so “beautifully brutal”.
How did you get involved in ”Animal Kingdom”, mate?
I got offered the role by (producer) Liz Watts and Michod. I was in London at the time. I loved the script and the cast was obviously amazing which was a major draw card. I love all of Michod’s shorts and wanted to get behind a screenplay that had the potential to be amazing. Little did I know how bloody good this film was going to be!
Damn straight. Now, you’re in the flick a fair bit but, well, rarely speak. Was that apparent when you saw the script?
[Laughs] My role was a lot bigger when I said yes to the film. About a day before I got on the plane from London to head to Melbs for the shoot, I got an email from Michod saying he’d cut a few scenes of mine and given all my dialogue to Guy.
I suppose if you’re gonna give away your words to someone it might as well be Guy Pearce. But ouch, hey?
Then a few months later I got a text from Luke Doolan the editor saying that some of the scenes I shot were cut too! It’s just one of those things, Michod had to make the film the best it can be, and not hang onto stuff to please actors egos. End of the day, my character does what it is supposed to do. He’s there to create the feeling that even in Guy Pearce’s camp, which is supposed to be a safe haven for J, that there is great threat. It unsettles J and is pivotal in a way in informing J’s decision to do what he does at the end of the film. End of the day, I’m just absolutely wrapped to be part of such a great movie even if it is in a small way. I’m extremely proud of the film. But if Michod does it again, he’s finished.
Ha Ha. And how was it working with Guy? Did you slog him one for stealing your dialogue?
Guy is one of the great men. He’s a gentle, talented, focused and extremely humble man. I did an episode of ‘Man from Snowy River’ with him when I was about 17 and he remembered me! There is nothing Hollywood about Guy. It’s extremely refreshing. I’d love to work with him again for sure.
As a writer, how did David do with his debut screenplay? Pick any faults?
The screenplay was fantastic, but I think the film is even better. He takes you to extremely uncomfortable places in the film, but you actually want to go there. The film is beautifully brutal. He really is an exceptionally talented filmmaker.
But what do you say to the few that are mistaking this for merely ‘Underbelly the Movie’?
It’s in a completely different league for a start. Underbelly glorifies crime, animal kingdom presents it in a realistic context. It’s complex and explores the internal and very real motivations of career criminals. Animal Kingdom is a cinematic masterpiece. It is carnal, not flashy. It sticks its claws into you and doesn’t let you go. I hardly think they are comparable. But I can see why people will as we seem to be a nation obsessed with the criminal world and this is an underworld story. Both Underbelly and Animal Kingdom have their place, but I think Underbelly is unashamedly commercial and taps expertly into popular culture. It’s event television not cinema. And the approach is polar opposite artistically.
Think there’s going to be a peak in the sales of Air Supply records now?
It will certainly put a new spin on that Air Supply track that’s for sure!
At the “Wog Boy 2” junket, Nick Giannopoulis told our reporter that internet sites, like Moviehole, really hurt films like his because “they can say whatever they like about a film”. What’s your take on that? Are we really that evil?
Did you give it a bad review?
Wog Boy 2? No, in fact we gave it 3 stars – I’d say it’s one of the kinder reviews he’s gotten for the film. And though they’re not in the archives anymore (we had a clean out a few years back) I don’t think we were too hard on his other films, too. So, I assume, Nick was just speaking in ‘general terms’ that the internet can really hurt a film.
Obviously every filmmaker wants to read reviews that mention the words ‘Masterpiece’ ‘Must see’ as years of hard work go into any production. But that’s all part of the business. It hurts, but you learn from it and make another film as soon as you can. I haven’t yet seen Wog Boy 2 so I can’t really comment on it. The internet isn’t evil. When it works in your favour as a filmmaker it can be your best friend, when it doesn’t.. well.. You know. The net and sites like Moviehole are fantastic as they spread the word about Australian films and keep our culture alive!
So what sites do you visit each week?
Moviehole of course… IMDB. Facebook. Twitch. SMH. NRL.com
“Animal Kingdom” opens next Thursday