Fam­ily mat­ters

Meet­ing his birth fa­ther in­spired Jack Thompson to host Find My Fam­ily, writes Dar­ren Dev­lyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

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.’’

Sim­ple:

Jack Thompson is glad he made the ef­fort to meet his birth fa­ther.

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