With the MCG as our backdrop, Moviehole caught up with Aussie thesps Stephen Curry (“The Cup”, “The Castle”) and Damon Gameau to talk about their latest balls up, “Save Your Legs!”.
So, I enjoyed this flick, guys. It was…
Damon: Oh, you did?
Stephen: Are you surprised?
You know what? You know how it is. You kind of… Especially with… Even with the underdog kind of sports movie, you kinda go “Oh, well, you know, here we go.”
Stephen: We’ve seen this. I know, yes.
“We’ve seen it.” Yeah. But it had been actually a while since we’ve had a good one of those, and especially, an Aussie one. I can’t think of… Probably Mick’s Crackerjack, you know?
Damon: Yeah, that’s right.
Which has the same kind of, you know, style of comedy. Yeah, yeah.
Damon: Yeah, that’s right.
Stephen : So, you got to go for the ride. You got to for it. Don’t you? You can’t… If you sit there and kinda go “Impress me” it’s probably not going to work. But these are the kind of films you go, “Okay, I know what this is, I’m gonna go along for the ride.”
Stephen: And you kinda… You let yourself just enjoy it.
Damon: You know, it’s not trying to be anything else.
Stephen: It’s fun.
No, exactly. I liked this. But it didn’t speak down to the audience. It wasn’t a dumb film at all. Do you know what I mean? It wasn’t just daft comedy, you know?
Fart jokes and stuff like that. I was actually saying to someone afterwards, it reminded me a lot of Major League.
Damon : Oh, yeah.
Stephen : Oh, yeah. Cool. I like that.
Which is one of my favourite sports flicks.
Stephen: [Damon] You can be the Wild Thing.
Damon : Yeah, I will be.
You need a bit of Wild Thing at the end, yeah. But… And the genesis of the flick, I mean it’s all based on a true story, right?
Damon : That’s right, yeah. In 2001, they did a tour of India and they made a documentary about it. I think their version is probably far more sort of not family-friendly comedy Australian film.
Stephen : A bit more of a dark independent release, I reckon that one?
Damon : Maybe there is some dramatisation I suppose.
Damon : Based on… As far as the Abbotsford Anglers went to India on a cricket tour, and then the rest is kind of, made up a mess. So, it’s kinda like Wolf Creek is based on a true story. At the start of the film, it shows that. Because one time a backpacker went missing.
Stephen : Pretty much true.
Damon : That’s about as close to the original story as we’ve got.
What about the characters in the film? Real folks or…
Damon: Uh, I know my guy is loosely based on our producer, Pat Jeers, there is a bit of stab in him. He would kind of give me notes every now and again. He’s just…
Stephen: Not afraid to speak in the third person.
Damon : Yeah, that’s right.
Stephen: Yeah, that’s always scary.
Stephen: We’re sort of all kind of amalgams I guess. I’ve got kind of a lot of… Teddy is based on a guy called Howard McCorkell who’s one of the original Anglers, a very passionate man about his club and about his game, and more passion than talent, and he’s the first to admit that, and that’s how I’ve approached my acting career. In fact, I find a real connection…
Damon: A legendary guy at the Anglers. They really are the original ones and they just have been very supportive of us… I think they’re all kind of a bit chuffed, a bit proud of their team’s about to get some national exposure.
Yeah, yeah, sure. Did you guys… Have you had a hit with them?
Damon: Well, we’re actually playing our first game tomorrow.
Oh, are you really?
Stephen: Yeah, it’s a very special day. We’ve been invited to be honorary kind of guest Anglers. So, we’re gonna go in the uniforms and have a game. Have a great time, yeah.
Nice. So, you guys obviously would have had to brush up on your cricket skills and so forth.
Stephen: Brush up? Well, we are D-Grade. I had to brush up to be a D-Grade. He had to brush down a little be to come down from the C grade.
Damon : And we kind of met in the middle there.
Damon: No, look, it was good. Certainly, there’s research that goes into it. It’s pretty, pretty severe. It’s gone a hell lot… Sat around a lot.
Sat around a lot?
Damon: Watched a lot of cricket.
Watched all the games.
Stephen: Pontificated, armchair expertise…
Damon : Criticised.
Damon: Criticised, yeah.
Stephen: Drunk a lot of beer. And look, occasionally, I’ve got a belly full of peptides. But that’s purely for… That’s the kind of more recreational side of things. And…
Comes with the job.
Damon: Leading up to this film.
Stephen: Training your entire life. Inadvertently, every time, mum said get off your lazy behind and vacuum, or get out there and do some weeding, she didn’t know, and I didn’t know that I was actually working.
Damon : One day, mum, people will make the table…
Stephen: Now it does. She’s in a home now, best place for her really, but she’s not here. I hope that she’s seen it on DVD in the rec room.
So, tell us how… When you guys got approached, what was it that appealed to you about the film? Was it the underdog stories I was telling you? The sports underdog…
Damon: Well, I think for me, initially it was… Before I had read the script, it was like, “Oh, travelling to India to make a film about cricket”, you kind of, you gotta be a bit more forgiving on the script, no matter what it looks like, because that’s always kind of gonna be a fun adventure.
Stephen: That’s right, yeah.
Damon: Once I heard Steve was gonna be in it, and we’d already been friends, at the time, with Brendan, and just started to… A good group of guys started to get assembled, and I thought this could really be fun. And there was a real openness to it that we were going to be able to play a bit and kinda not just be rigid with the script. They had let us kinda develop our own characters and then explore a bit, and have fun. I think that’s little bit Judd Apatow thing. The way they do it now. They let people just kind of go on a roll and I think audiences respond better to that. It’s more organic. There’s something kind of real about it, and truthful as opposed to a bit touched upon…
Yeah, that’s what I was going to say, because it wouldn’t all be there on the script, would it, when you read it? A lot of it would be on the spot.
Damon: There was a lot of play. Yeah. Which is good.
Stephen: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.
Damon: You know, making a comedy work…
Stephen : And it’s also nice… You know, I mentioned before the idea of a passion, you know? It’s nice to be able to kind of get the script in your hand. It’s about positivity. And it’s about kind of… It’s about a shared respect and a shared love for the game. And I don’t think it’s really… It’s not in any way limited to cricket fans either. Anyone who’s ever had a passion for something that provides them with a tribe, and with a sense of belonging, it’s a really nice thing to get out there and kind of bring it alive…
Damon: Yeah, it is nice. You don’t get those films very often. There’s just a big heart in there. There’s a life story. You think people are going to leave the cinema and go “Oh, that was a nice night out.” And we don’t do a lot of them. Lately, we look at Sapphires and Red Dogs being going well, but I think given the current state of the world and how busy and stressed people are, these films are great, you know.
Stephen: We chilled, had a laugh, and just kind of let go for two hours.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. That’s what cinema is for. That’s the power of cinema, if you ask me.
Damon: Yeah, it is.
Sometimes you just don’t wanna go in and walk out stressed.
And you do with a lot of films.
Damon: Yeah, you do.
You know, as good as a film like Zero Dark Thirty or something like that is, it does leave you kind of…
Yeah, it is. It drains you for a week afterwards.
Damon: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So, it’s good to kind of go in for a bit of fun.
Damon: Yeah. And you heard that we can create an industry in Australia that has a balance of all those things. And it’s great that we make Animal Kingdoms and Snowtowns. And they’re terrifically, confident, brilliantly made films. But if we’re going to be a proper film market, we need to also embrace that we are going to make films like this, and not rip them apart and go “Oh, they are just silly films.”
Damon: Every market, successful market needs to have a range of choices.
Damon: And we need to get people go and see these films just as much as the other ones.
Exactly. And this will probably snare new interest in cricket.
Damon: Yeah, you never know.
Fly the flag a bit.
Damon : Well, we haven’t had one. We haven’t had a cricket film that’s bizarre…
Stephen: Right, absolutely, no.
Damon: I think that maybe in the 80s or 90s, we would have done one but…
Damon: It’s odd, isn’t it?
Stephen: And also, I mean sports films are so notoriously hard to get the action side of things.
Stephen : And Boyd, our director, had this kind of great approach that he… He’s very power… He kind of shoved the hell out of it and gave us pieces of options in there, but also allowed us in various parts of it to kind of just have a few overs and see how it comes out in a bit of the old bucket and say when you got people of the level of talents themselves.
Stephen: Darren Gilshenan, Ground Zero…
Damon: Eddie Baroo.
Stephen: Eddie Baroo. You certainly will find some crap stuff to do, you know.
Damon: Some dropped catches.
Stephen: Three dropped catches. Darren Gilshenan is one of our great physical comedians too, you know. And he brings this amazing sensibility to…
Stephen: Cowen, whenever you see him out in field, you just want to see him more. He’s got this amazing…
Damon: Something is going to happen.
Damon: Yeah. Kind of he’s got a… He’s a brilliant clown.
Stephen: He is a great clown. From across the earth.
Damon : Is that, a Peter Sellers in Australia is more like a… You know, he’s got that Rowan Atkinson’s kind of role.
Stephen: And they’ve been very underrated and very under-used as well, you know, at this stage…
It’s great. Like I was telling you before, they said, you know what, all eyes will be on not so much the performances of these guys but the performances on the field.
So, it’s like actually you know… They don’t know what they’re doing.
Stephen: Yeah. Well, it’s easier for us than it must have been for these guys…
Damon: I’d rather get compared to a D-Grade than to Greg Chappell on ‘Howzat!’ any day. You know, I’ll take a video, I’ll take a look after it, see how is that. There was not a lot of cricket footage, deliberately I think.
Exactly. Did you even have to do any on… How is that? I mean…
Stephen: Oh, we did… I think Matt had to do the most. Just the bowling is Damon, and it wasn’t much batting for us. A couple of scenes but…
Stephen: We got away with that.
You must be pretty stoked with Howzat, Damon?.
Damon: Yeah. We were surprised.
Especially pleased for Lachy Hulme, an old mate of mine. He is brilliant.
Damon : Oh, he was terrific. Yeah, we… It was that thing of being on it and thinking ’cause on the page it just read so one-dimensional. I was like, “Hey, Hooksie, you want another beer, mate?”
Stephen: Yeah, Yeah.
Damon: You know, it could have really been stinky. But just the way they edited it and cut it through, yeah, we were all really, like it’s really solid, like with a good pace. Yeah, we don’t expect that. We didn’t expect that on the day. And also, we’d just done this film, so, Brendan and I were just at the point of like “no more cricket”. Like we’re just done literally…
Stephen: Yeah, exactly.
Damon: Things are not going to strike back to back.
Damon So, it’s just, I don’t know… Let’s just get through this.
Is there a cricket trilogy for you, yeah?
Damon: Yeah. What else is there to do? I mean… Well, there has never been a beach cricket film made.
Right. There you go.
Stephen: Or in the backyard with schoolmates.
Damon: French cricket with the…
French cricket, Yeah.
Stephen: Or even that kind of that underarm… That could be probably an hour. You could complete a drama out of that.
This will go well. If all else fails, re-issue it two weeks later, “Die Hard with an LBW” or something.
Stephen: That’s right. [laughter]
Damon: There we go. Right on.
The brand alone…
Damon: Die Hard 5?
Yeah. [laughter] Yep, ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’. That’s the big one for the States this week and everyone was saying how much it made last night or something on previews or something.
Stephen : Doing well?
Terrible reviews but doing well. People are heading out to see the stinker. Because you know it’s all in the brand.
Damon: Is it “Bruce”? Of course, Bruce.
Stephen: It’s Bruce and it’s that young Aussie guy.
Yeah, Jai Courtney.
Damon: What’s his name? Jai Courtney?
Stephen: Jai Courtney.
Yeah. I think he caught the plane over pretty quick, I think, Jai. He did, what was it, Rafters, or something?
Stephen: I don’t know.
I imagine you guys have done a lot of press for this…
Damon: We have this week. Yeah. We’re really doing quite a big campaign. We’re really trying to get it seen, as Mike advised me. They would wanna grab something in the next couple of weeks.
Damon: So, at least people will be aware of it, I think. They’re going to go “Oh, it’s that film, we’ve met the guys in India?” That’s the whole trick in Australia, is to try and get people to keep it on.
That’s right. That’s right.
Stephen: And then we also talk about films. And some of them are like, “Oh, I’ve never even heard of that”.
That’s right, yeah. It’s…
Stephen: I didn’t even know Australians made films. That was my surprise.
Damon: What about the guy at the turf yesterday? He goes, “Hey, mate, a friend of mine and I just rented Tracker the other night. Were you the guy running the messages?” I said, [laughter] “What? What messages?” He goes, “You know, the main one..?” I said, “No, I was the soldier on the horse.” “Alright, so what was Ray Winstone like to work with?” And I was like, “Oh, man, you’ve got the wrong movie, that’s The Proposition… ” And he goes, “Oh.” His face just went blank… like, ‘I’ve never heard of that film’.
What was Ray Winstone like to work with? He’s got a Gary Sweet vibe about him [Laughs]
Damon: Yeah, yeah, yeah…
Stephen: He’s got both of them confused.
Damon: They are very similar [Laughs]
Yeah, Jesus. Yeah. How much time did you spend overseas on this? That’s what I was wondering after I saw the flick.
Stephen: Like seven…
Damon: Five or six weeks.
Stephen: Oh, right. It was, it was five weeks.
Damon : It was non-stop the whole time.
Stephen : Six-day weeks… And just kind of getting stuck into it… It really hit it head on…
So, they didn’t even try to double India?
Damon: No, it’ll be…
Stephen: So, it was great.
Damon: It will be too much… I mean so you just couldn’t do it.
Stephen: You just couldn’t do it. I mean you look at what India presents visually and…
We don’t have a street to really represent that. Do we?
Stephen: No, there isn’t an art director in the world that can recreate that.
Damon: It’s even the light, even the texture of that colours and the background. Everywhere you point, there’s some kind of fading paint and 400 people, and you know, there’s something going on. It was great to work there.
It’s a nice postcard for India actually.
Damon: Yeah, it is.
Stephen: Oh, it’s an amazing place.
And I think you get an idea of what a place is like, you know. Until you see it on screen or something, and you know…
Damon : Yeah. And it was a good to… I saw it in October with an Indian audience. A thousand of them there, and it was so great to watch their, to see their enjoyment of watching an Australian point of view of India. The audience were kind of hysterical, and also how beautiful their country looked, and how it was portrayed as this exotic land and you know… So if it can find a way to get into the American… To the Indian hearts, I think we will do really well there. But getting on the cinema is really hard there…
Right. That’s what I was actually gonna ask about, because it will appeal obviously to India.
Damon : I went to a screening the other day and the Swami Army were there. They got to play the drums and stuff. And they absolutely loved it.
Damon : So, the Swami Army President was there in Sydney and he was just going bananas over it. It’s great. And he… You know, he got the… Yeah, with all the Twitter and all that sort of stuff, we hope we’re going to help… Because I think it’s such a… The India-Australian market is not even… So, rarely can you actually pitch a film, an Australian film at the Indian-Australian market. So, hopefully, they kinda get on board and embrace it well. Again, hopefully, you know, everyone in a cricket club in Australia might want to come and see it. And people who have got nothing to do with cricket might want to have a little peek behind the theatre, and see what happened. It’s a team sport thing, and even if you’ve never felt it, everyone’s got that dynamic in their team. Everyone has has got a Teddy and a Stav, and they can relate to some character. And even if it’s a group of mates, and when you go for beers, there’s always a guy who is a bit to his hair and there’s another guy who is a bit stodgy and he’s hard with his money. You know, I think there are characters to relate to the film, all of them, that hopefully…
Exactly. Ah, look, I think in the same way, Top Gun had everyone showing up to be fighter pilots, just it’ll have them…
Stephen : Yeah, yeah. That’s right.
Showing up for cricket.
Damon: Yeah, purely non-MRA kind with my other…
Yeah, exactly. [chuckle] There was no MTV style pop tunes in it. So, that was probably a help.
Damon: No, no, absolutely not.
You could do a re-edit.
Damon : Although there’s a fantastic re-launch of a very famous cricket song in Australia, just a…
Stephen: They want to release it as a single.
Damon: There’s a good… Yeah, there’s some good beats in that.
Stephen: Good soundtrack.
Damon : And sung by Sophie Bruce as well, who is an up and coming Australian musician…
What’s next for you guys? Besides the cricket trilogy that you’re completing.
Damon: Oh, yeah, that’s right.
Stephen: I’m about to do a Comedy Central channel, Comedy Central, called Franklin and Myself and his daily gag; I’m doing it a month at the town hall, not the big town hall. We’ve got a nice little intimate little room in there, have a little bit of fun for a month; go back to the old kind of what makes this… Love a little bit live response.
You feel more pressure doing something like that than doing a film? Because, obviously, it’s a live audience, or just…
Stephen No, it’s good because it’s more instantaneous, and if it doesn’t… It’s not working, you’d know instantly, because no one’s laughing, and you…It’s better because you get to, I don’t know, you get to do it on the fly. It feels very much more instantaneous. And with a film, it’s great fun doing a film, but then you kind of have to wait and see, and there’s just 50,000 ways to make it better as they say. It’s out of your control. Yeah, this way, sort of, the buck stops with you, and if no one’s laughing, it’s because you’re shit.
That’s right. That’s right. That joke goes tomorrow night, yeah.
Stephen: So, as simple as that.
Damon: I’m doing a… Actually going up to Darwin, to do… Rolf [de Heer] is actually doing a new movie with David Gulpilil. David’s been quite sick, but this seems to be making him better – knowing he has another film project. Rolf asked “What would help you to get straightened out again?” He said, “What I wanna do is do a film with you”. So, he’s doing a life story of David, kind of a simulation, kind of original story. And he’s using all actors that David has worked with before to play all the parts. So, it’s gonna be like a bit of a reunion and it’s lovely and…
Damon : Yeah. It’s really special.
Stephen : When’s that happening?
Damon : I’m not sure yet. They haven’t confirmed the date. But it’s gonna be lovely, just everyone kind of getting… And I haven’t seen David for a couple of years, which is lovely. And, hopefully not, but it might be one of his last films.
Well, otherwise, it could be the medicine that he needs.
Damon: Yeah. That’s what’s been amazing obviously it’s just… Now, he’s just got a purpose, and he’s just come alive. Yeah, he’s just got a real reason to move forward.
To push on, yeah, yeah.
Damon: He’s the healthiest he’s ever seen.
Oh, that’s great.
Stephen : Yeah.
Damon: Yeah. We all need a bit of something to kind of…
Stephen: Reason to live.
Yeah, reason to live. It’s something to keep gunning for.
Damon : Yeah, there’s something to be said for that, isn’t there?
“Save Your Legs” is now screening across Australia