The quiet ACHIEVER
Justine Clarke steps back to a simpler time to play our most famous ex-wife Noelene Hogan, writes HOLLY BYRNES
SHE was arguably the founding member of Australia’s First Wives Club, but Justine Clarke believes Noelene Hogan was also the unsung hero in Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story.
Clarke, who plays the mother of five and Hogan’s high school sweetheart in Channel 7’s two-part telemovie, says Noelene is often overlooked as the domestic force behind his unlikely rise to fame and fortune.
The couple, who met growing up in Sydney’s south west, had been married for 13 years when the Harbour Bridge painter made his TV debut.
As last week’s opening episode in this biopic detailed, they also had five children to support, with Noelene playing housewife and picking up parttime work while her husband indulged his early TV and comedy opportunities.
“The domestic pressures were always off him because of Noelene,” Clarke said. “He was the bread-winner and they never had much money, but it was still his job to go out and work. I think he was really lucky to have her in his life.” The Play School and Time of our Lives favourite drew much of the inspiration for her character from Hogan’s 1992 book Prattling On With Noelene Hogan.
A small volume of handy hints and snippets from her suburban life gave Clarke an insight into this quiet achiever.
“What I learnt from that was what a terrific outlook she has and what a wonderful quality it is to be able to laugh at yourself,” Clarke said.
“They both did that very well throughout their lives. They’ve never taken themselves very seriously.”
When the Crocodile Dundee star left his wife for his glamorous co-star Linda Koslowski, the split was described at the time as the ugliest divorce in Australian history.
Playing the dutiful wife may not connect with contemporary audiences, but Clarke said: “It was a simpler time ... when life was a little bit easier, not so complicated.”
HOGES: THE PAUL HOGAN STORY
TONIGHT, 8.30PM, SCT