Brown’s final act
and playwright Bille Brown pulled a full house for his final performance – it was just a shame he wasn’t there to see it. The much-loved Brown died of bowel cancer in Brisbane on January 13, two days after his 61st birthday. Family, friends and fellow actors paid tribute to his career and life this week at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre. Brown from Biloela, in rural Queensland, worked in major theatres around the world playing kings, prime ministers, poets and even witches. He appeared in feature films such as Fierce Creatures, Oscar and Lucinda and Killer Elite and TV programs including All Saints, Rake and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Monday’s tribute was top and tailed by Brown’s longtime friend, Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush. British actor Sir Derek Jacobi and playwright David Hare sent recorded video messages while Sir Ian McKellen penned a eulogy read to the audience. Former The Sullivans star Steven Tandy was among those in the auditorium while Logie winner Carol Burns, who played Franky Doyle in Prisoner in the late ’70s, was among those who performed. Rush, who made his professional acting debut with Brown in Wrongside of the Moon in 1971, said he has struggled to come to terms with Brown’s death. ‘‘I miss his robust voice on the phone, trans-global chats . . . hilarious gossip,’’ Rush said. ‘‘His work was an eternal portrait of this remarkable man.’’ Rush also unveiled a Ben Quilty portrait of Brown, commissioned by the Sydney Theatre Company, in the foyer of South Brisbane’s Bille Brown Studio.