The strife of Brian
Tim McCunn is Kane and able to re-enact some of Australia’s most murderous moments, writes Colin Vickery
ACTOR Tim McCunn is unrecognisable under a wig, fake beard and moustache. McCunn, playing Melbourne standover man Brian Kane in Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, has spent the morning filming the infamous 1979 courthouse murder of Ray Chuck, the mastermind behind the Great Bookie Robbery.
The killing, by a heavily disguised Kane, was revenge for the murder of his painter-and-docker brother, Les, machine-gunned to death at his Wantirna home within metres of his wife Judi (played by Kate Ritchie) and children the year before.
Brian Kane was never charged with the killing, said to have been aided by corrupt police, but three years later he was gunned down in a Brunswick pub — a payback for the payback.
‘‘I originally auditioned for the role of Les, but they (the producers) decided I’d be better for Brian,’’ McCunn says.
‘‘I’ve done 20 years of bad guys — killers, drug addicts. Everything I’ve done (including guest parts in Wildside, Water Rats and All Saints) makes me the perfect fit to play Brian.’’
McCunn says Kane is a fascinating conundrum — though he was one of the underworld’s most dangerous characters, he was no cowboy. The character notes describe him as ‘‘the classy Kane brother, who could bash, toe-cut and kill with the best of them’’.
‘‘When I first saw the character breakdown it was fairly obvious that Brian is the brother who’s more the organiser, the thinker, the planner,’’ McCunn says.
‘‘Les is the explosive one and Brian is the cool one — he stays contained.
‘‘The fact that he shows a lot of control actually makes him an extremely dangerous individual.
‘‘To construct him was quite easy. I used a lot of stillness— threatening pauses and so on. Stillness is power. Then all you need to do is flick an eyebrow and that speaks volumes.’’
Plunging into the 1970s Australian underworld has been fascinating for McCunn. It was an era before security scanners and electronic surveillance. There is no way Brian Kane could get away with a courthouse killing these days.
‘‘What doesn’t make sense to me is that there’s no legs in this (gangster) lifestyle,’’ McCunn says.
‘‘Each new generation that comes along thinks they’re going to be the ones who are going to crack the code and rule until they’re old men, but they never make it. History shows that again and again.’’