Meeting his birth father inspired Jack Thompson to host Find My Family, writes Darren Devlyn
HE IS, unequivocally, one of our most gifted performers — a man whose status as an iconic Aussie male cannot be disputed.
In a career spanning five decades, Jack Thompson has made a habit of appearing in the credits of Australian film and TV productions that have been lauded for illustrating Australia’s culture and psyche.
Thompson, 67, is renowned for beguiling big-screen performances in Breaker Morant, Sunday Too Far Away, The Club and The Man from Snowy River.
Thompson has a rare poise and an innate sense of dramatic timing. His eyes, body language and the timbre of his voice have been the tools he has used to bring depth and texture to his work.
Given his presence on screen, reputation for telling great Australian stories, and his adoption as a child, it’s no surprise Channel 7 was keen to sign Thompson as host of Find My Family — a factual series that sets out to reunite broken families.
Find My Family, PG Channel 7, Tuesday, 8pm Reuniting families Duration: 30 minutes
Thompson was adamant he’d not be involved in the show if it had been designed to trade on confrontation or humiliation of participants.
‘‘There are a lot of tears in this show, but the tears are associated with people getting together — it’s about resolution,’’ Thompson says.
‘‘When I was sent a first edit of the show, I sat at home with Lee (Thompson’s partner) to watch it. At the end, I turned to her and realised that we both had tears in our eyes.
‘‘This is a show that is humanity at its best. I’m very proud of the show. It’s got to touch your heart.’’
Thompson, born John Hadley Pain, was six when his mother died, leaving his merchant seaman father Harold unable to care for him.
Jack was sent to a boarding school by his father and was later adopted by John and Pat Thompson, bringing the change of surname.
Though there’s no doubt Harold must have felt guilty about their years apart and anxious about meeting the son he hadn’t seen since Jack was a child, the reunion was a success.
Soon after Thompson walked into the meeting, it was apparent he and his father had the same walk, the same body language. But their time together turned out to be brief, because Harold had died within a year.
‘‘I never had to find my family,’’ Thompson says.
‘‘I knew my mother passed away and my father moved to WA and his second wife had asked him not to talk about it (being father to Jack) because there was a desire for a clean break.
‘‘His sister was always trying to get us back together. In the end, I got together with him.
‘‘I had never felt anger or resentment because I’d had such a wonderful life with my adopted family.
‘‘And meeting him was an extraordinarily simple moment.
‘‘If I’d not made the effort to meet him again, the effect would have been terrible.
‘‘To have knowledge he was there and not get together before he passed away would have been just crazy.’’
Jack Thompson is glad he made the effort to meet his birth father.