The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - LOUISE RICHARD­SON

Aussie ac­tor Aaron Jef­fery knew he was hit­ting the mark when his co-star ut­tered the words, “Oh, I don’t be­lieve it – I’m in bed with Chop­per”.

Jef­fery, known for his roles in McLeod’s Daugh­ters and Went­worth, packed on the ki­los, was cov­ered in tat­toos and used mouth­pieces to trans­form for the role of Mark “Chop­per” Read in the lat­est of­fer­ing of the Un­der­belly fran­chise, Un­der­belly Files: Chop­per.

But per­haps the most im­por­tant prepa­ra­tion for the role came by delv­ing into the psy­che of the in­fa­mous Aus­tralian crime fig­ure.

“I got a real chance to look at the psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­file of the char­ac­ter we cre­ated, with Mark Read and Chop­per; the two sep­a­rate en­ti­ties sort of com­ing to­gether,” Jef­fery says.

“A lot of my re­search was with a psy­chol­o­gist and just plot­ting what I knew about his early stages of child­hood into his teenage years, and also look­ing at psy­chi­a­trist re­ports that were done on him over the years.

“A lot of my choices and char­ac­ter re­search was done in that vein.”

While Eric Bana brought Read’s story to the sil­ver screen in the 2000 film, Chop­per, Jef­fery says this two-part tele­movie cov­ers a dif­fer­ent part of his life.

“Eric Bana was ex­tra­or­di­nary in that movie and that movie was a land­mark Aus­tralian film at the time but this is very dif­fer­ent,” he says.

“That was sort of Chop­per in his prime and this is Mark Read post the movie and re­ally as John Sil­vester (jour­nal­ist and crime writer) put it so elo­quently, go­ing to seed. His stan­dover days are re­ally over.”

Un­der­belly Files: Chop­per

picks up as Read is re­leased from Pen­tridge Prison in 1991 and prom­ises his part­ner, Mar­garet, he is go­ing to leave crime be­hind him.

“It’s a love story, it’s also the hero’s jour­ney in a sense of tam­ing the dragon and how does he go straight, how does he in­te­grate,” Jef­fery says.

“Chop­per was part of his psy­cho­log­i­cal make-up that was cre­ated to pro­tect him and to sur­vive – how does he in­te­grate that into the real world with Mark Read?

“It’s that jour­ney ... and the old world pop­ping up and try­ing to pull him back.”

Jef­fery says Aussies are so fas­ci­nated by the Chop­per story be­cause it taps into the idea of the un­der­dog that’s be­come part of the coun­try’s psy­che. It also of­fers us the chance to imag­ine what life would be like if we went off the reser­va­tion.

“He does and says things that some peo­ple only think about, you know, he does them and you’re at­tracted to that be­cause he’s his own gover­nor in a sense,” Jef­fery says.

“I think we all have thoughts but we never fol­low through with them. What hap­pens if maybe you fol­low through with those dark and de­viant thoughts? Peo­ple get a re­lief through that.

“Apart from that it’s kind of your anti-hero jour­ney and I think peo­ple will be ab­so­lutely fas­ci­nated by parts of this char­ac­ter that we’ve brought to life in our telling of the story ... that’s re­ally un­ex­pected.” Un­der­belly Files: Chop­per pre­mieres on Sun­day at 8.30pm on Chan­nel 9


Michael Ca­ton and Aaron Jef­fery star in Un­der­belly Files: Chop­per, which pre­mieres on Sun­day.

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