Monday, 23 May 2011

Goodbye to Bill Hunter... an Aussie Legend

Yesterday Bill Hunter died.

If you've ever seen an Australian movie, you've probably seen him in action. He has been in more Australian movies than any other actor I can think of. Working in film and television since the 1950's, his voice and face is instantly recognisable. He played lots of larrikin* characters that you can't help but love despite their crusty exterior. The characters he chose to play always emulated the values of the typical Australian bush man on which much of our national identity has been based for many years as described by Russel Ward's book The Australian Legend:
Displaying practicality, rough and ready in his manners and quick to decry any appearance of affectation in others. He is a great improviser, ever willing 'to have a go' at anything, but ... content with a task done in a way that is 'near enough'. Though capable of great exertion in an emergency, he normally feels no impulse to work hard without good cause. He swears hard and consistently, gambles heavily and often, and drinks deeply on occasion ... He is a 'hard case', sceptical about the value of religion and of intellectual and cultural pursuits generally. He believes that Jack is not only as good as his master but ... probably a good deal better ... He is a fiercely independent person who hates officiousness and authority ... Yet he is very hospitable and ... will stick to his mates through thick and thin, even if he thinks they may be in the wrong.

It is hard to think of my favourite character that he has played, but he has appeared in body or voice in many of my most favourite Aussie movies, including Crackerjack (with Mick Malloy), Muriels' Wedding (with Rachel Griffiths and Toni Collette), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (with Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce), and Strictly Ballroom (with Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice and Gia Carides). The also lent his talents to two of my son's favourite movies Kangaroo Jack (with Jerry O'Connell) and Finding Nemo.

Something I didn't realise was that he also appeared on several TV series outside of Australia such as Dynasty and Dr Who, but then I was a little young to be watching either of those programs when they aired.

He worked right up to the end, with The Cup completed this year.

Rest well Bill Hunter and thank you for sharing your life's work with us. You are already sadly missed.

*Larrikin: the name given to people displaying the Australian folk tradition behaviours of irreverence, mockery of authority and disregard for rigid norms of propriety. Larrikinism can also be associated with self-deprecating humour

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