Wild at heart
Callan Mulvey certainly looks the part as he brings one of Australia’s bloodiest bikie battles to the small screen, writes Holly Byrnes
THE concrete walls of an industrial unit block tucked away in suburban Sydney provide the perfect cover for the cast and crew of Brothers In Arms.
But it’s not the paparazzi this production is hiding from, taking no chances as they re- enact one of the bloodiest bikie battles Australia has seen.
It may be almost three decades since the Milperra Massacre on Father’s Day, September 2, 1984, but tensions between the real warring parties remain as hot as ever.
For Channel 10, it’s the kind of heat marketing money can’t buy ahead of the broadcast of this six- part miniseries.
On set, E Guide finds the mood a celebratory one as the cast recreates a party scene in a purpose- built Comancheros’ clubhouse.
AC/ DC is blaring, beer is flowing and mullets are de rigueur as acclaimed director Peter Andrikides watches the action on a monitor, giggling like a schoolboy.
It’s a light moment in this dark tale, which will shock audiences with its Underbelly- style brutality.
Just as that TV crime franchise was criticised for glamorising gang activity, Brothers In Arms should brace for the same charge as it explores the bond that drove these men to kill and die for each other.
Spencer was the loyal lieutenant brought into the Comanchero fold by club boss Jock Ross ( played superbly by Matt Nable) who would later lead the mutiny against his president’s tactics and leave to start an Australian chapter of the US motorcycle club, Bandidos.
With pride at stake, an alpha male war began. It would end in bloodshed on that fateful day at the Viking Tavern, Milperra, when seven people ( including a 14- year- old bystander) were shot dead and 40 club members hospitalised.
Keeping on the right side of those allegiances and ‘‘ doing justice to this story’’ was a challenge for Mulvey, who revealed he did not have contact with real club members.
‘‘ They’re very protective of the brotherhood and they bloody should be,’’ he says.
‘‘ They would die for each other and I have the utmost respect for the clubs.’’
Researching the story, as well as
‘ You’ve got your brother’s back and nothing will come between that’
watching acclaimed US outlaw bikie drama
Sons of Anarchy, Mulvey admits he ‘‘ envied’’ the club camaraderie.
‘‘ You’ve got your brother’s back and nothing will come between that. You take your brother’s side first and I think that would be a beautiful thing to experience." That’s not to say the criminality is to be admired or excused, Mulvey says, but honouring the story and the relationships at the heart of the drama was a key to getting the story right.
‘‘ It’s hard to get it right for both sides . . . both sides seem to have conflicting stories and there will be a lot of people who feel Snoddy shouldn’t be made a hero or that Jock’s been demonised.
‘‘ I want the people who are still alive to feel they’ve been respected and we’ve done justice to this story.’’ Bulking up for the role of Snoddy, the 37- yearold delivers a balance of tough guy and vulnerable loner who finds a family and order within the club ranks.
Mulvey’s on- screen chemistry with Maeve Dermody, who plays Spencer’s girlfriend Lee, produces some of the drama’s most touching moments.
While Dermody’s most notable roles have been in film and theatre, she jumped at the chance to take on her first major TV gig.
‘‘ The opportunity to play a character like this is rare. I just chase that stuff,’’ she says.
Born after the real events, Dermody shares viewer fascination ‘‘ about why these groups exist, how they exist and their almost tribal code of conduct’’.
Written by Greg Haddrick, of Underbelly fame, this is the sort of flesh- fest that series became infamous for. Dermody says the bikie world ‘‘ was a very misogynistic culture on the whole, [ but] there’s also this really strong loyalty to their ‘ old ladies’.