Cast­away Bindi hon­ours her dad

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

INDI Ir­win isn’t afraid of snakes, croc­o­diles, ve­he­ment dis­agree­ment or even Hil­lary Clin­ton.

But hor­ror movies give the 14-year-old wildlife war­rior the hee­bie-jee­bies. ‘‘I just can’t cope,’’ she says. When one of Ir­win’s mates de­cided to cel­e­brate their birth­day by watch­ing an in­stal­ment in the Saw fran­chise, she was forced to ad­mit de­feat.

‘‘I felt really bad. They had to change their en­tire party plans.’’

It’s nice to know that even Ir­win, who re­duced 300 mil­lion view­ers to tears when she de­liv­ered an as­sured eu­logy to her late fa­ther at the ten­der age of eight, has the odd moment of weak­ness.

Her most re­cent project, an up­com­ing role in the Cana­dian com­edy-hor­ror se­ries My Babysit­ter’s a Vam­pire, might al­most qual­ify as a form of ex­po­sure ther­apy – sim­i­lar to the method used by Aus­tralia Zoo to help her­peto­pho­bics over­come their fear of snakes.

But it’s the Gold Coast-filmed Re­turn to Nim’s Is­land and her role as a con­ser­va­tion-minded cast­away that’s clos­est to Ir­win’s heart.

‘‘She wants to pro­tect her is­land so badly. She won’t let any­thing stand in her way,’’ Ir­win says.

‘‘And in real life I am try­ing to pro­tect the Steve Ir­win wildlife re­serve from be­ing mined for alu­minium. It’s a cool par­al­lel.’’

The film is the se­quel to Nim’s Is­land, the 2008 film that starred Abi­gail Bres­lin, Jodie Fos­ter and Ger­ard But­ler. This time around, Nim has a love in­ter­est.

Former Neigh­bours star Toby Wal­lace plays a smit­ten young ad­ven­turer who trav­els to Nim’s trop­i­cal par­adise to re­con­nect with Ir­win’s char­ac­ter.

The story picks up a few years af­ter their first meet­ing, when the pris­tine is­land is si­mul­ta­ne­ously threat­ened by poach­ers and de­vel­op­ers.

Former Play School pre­sen­ter John Wa­ters plays one of the vil­lains.

‘‘It was a lit­tle strange to see him coming at me with a knife. He used to sing me my ABCs,’’ laughs Ir­win.

While her two great loves – film and wildlife con­ser­va­tion – might seem a lit­tle dis­parate, she says they com­ple­ment each other sur­pris­ingly well.

‘‘The film in­dus­try is such a won­der­ful plat­form to get my mes­sage across – I can reach a whole dif­fer­ent au­di­ence. And I am in a unique po­si­tion to do that be­cause I love film­ing and I also want to make sure that my Dad’s mes­sage and legacy lives on for­ever.

‘‘If you asked, let’s say Hugh Jack­man, what his opin­ion on the non-con­sump­tive use of wildlife was, that would prob­a­bly get to more peo­ple than if you just asked a passer-by on the street.

‘‘Their opin­ion counts just as much but it won’t reach as many peo­ple. And that’s what I am try­ing to do. My mis­sion on this earth is to bring the mes­sage of con­ser­va­tion to peo­ple.’’

Ir­win ac­knowl­edges that the loss of her fa­ther at such a young age has af­fected the way she con­ducts her life.

‘‘Af­ter los­ing Dad, I think it’s really con­creted the idea that life is frag­ile and you do need to com­plete things now be­cause you don’t know how long you have,’’ she says.

opens on April 4.

Toby Wal­lace, as Ed­mund, and Bindi Ir­win, as Nim, in a scene from

John Wa­ters

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