A NEW SEN­SA­TION

Luke Arnold and Ge­orgina Haig shine as Michael and Paula in INXS: Never Tear Us Apart

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

ON a semi-dark­ened set in a Mel­bourne ware­house, Luke Arnold is chan­nelling late INXS front­man Michael Hutchence.

The re­sem­blance is un­canny. The lan­guid walk, the tou­sled, ‘I-don’tcare’ hair, leather pants and al­most-trans­par­ent black, long-sleeved T-shirt are pure rock star.

Ge­orgina Haig skips on to the set, her cro­cheted yel­low mini-dress over bright yel­low un­der­wear and cute bunched pig-tails the ex­act replica of the out­fit Paula Yates wore for the in­fa­mous 1994 UK Big Break­fast tele­vi­sion in­ter­view that gave away the pair’s at­trac­tion to the world.

The set it­self – bed, gaudy side-ta­ble and gar­ish cush­ions – is a painstak­ing recre­ation of the one on which Yates con­ducted flirty in­ter­views and caught stars off guard as her sexy cheek­i­ness lulled them into star­tling con­fes­sions.

Off-set, a lap­top com­puter, paused on footage of the orig­i­nal scene, is checked and re-checked as the ac­tors set­tle on the bed.

The direc­tor calls ac­tion. Haig ad­justs her leg over Arnold’s and asks “why are you re­leas­ing a great­est hits al­bum?”.

“Be­cause we have a lot of hits,” replies Arnold’s Hutchence, touch­ing hand to mouth.

It’s a scene so in­ti­mate and se­duc­tive that the viewer feels al­most like an in­truder.

Off-set, an in­vol­un­tary whis­per es­capes orig­i­nal INXS band mem­ber Kirk Pengilly’s lips.

“This is so eerie,” he marvels, back in 1994, when the scene played out for real.

Fi­nally, the direc­tor calls cut, and Arnold and Haig drop the act and re­turn to what they are – in real life – friends who met at WAAPA (West Aus­tralian Acad­emy of Per­form­ing Arts) and un­til now had worked to­gether only when they were re­hears­ing for pilot sea­son in Los An­ge­les a few years ago.

“I’ve known Ge­orge (Ge­orgina) since 2006, we’re old friends,” says Arnold.

“For us this was a scene we could have a lot of fun with. There were great in­ter­views be­tween Michael and Paula we could use, and this great play­ful fun re­la­tion­ship.

“That Big Break­fast in­ter­view was some­thing I think view­ers felt they shouldn’t be watch­ing, be­cause it was just so in­ti­mate. Our chal­lenge was al­ways to make it feel like that.”

The scene was no more or less awk­ward than any other, says Haig.

“It’s al­ways funny when you get thrown in these sit­u­a­tions with some­one you know,” she says.

She says a later raunchy sex scene was even less ro­man­tic in the mak­ing.

“You both kind of know where the fur­ni­ture is, and it’s per­func­tory – so un­der­wear off, then zip, then boob … it’s bro­ken down into this very chore­ographed process, where you both know what’s hap­pen­ing where,” she laughs.

Haig plays one of Hutchence’s big loves in INXS: Never Tear Us

Apart, an epic that spans more than 20 years of the band’s rise to in­ter­na­tional fame.

For Arnold, that meant play­ing not one, but sev­eral ver­sions of Hutchence – a feat achieved through end­less hours of re­search and in­put from orig­i­nal INXS mem­bers and man­age­ment.

“Be­cause we are telling so much of the INXS story there is more than one Michael to por­tray,” Arnold says. “Move­ment was the key – find­ing the way he held him­self. His walk is not a strut – there are a lot of el­e­ments. Think­ing of Michael as a beau­ti­ful woman helped. It’s not a mas­cu­line en­ergy, but it’s a kind of con­fi­dent sex­ual en­ergy.

“I think of him as a man who’s never in a rush.

“He’s never wor­ried about tak­ing up some­one else’s time or them tak­ing up his time. He’s in the mo­ment.

“He’ll give him­self com­pletely whether it’s a lover, or just some­one who’s talk­ing to him or an in­ter­viewer.

“He lived life to the lim­its. His highs were high and his lows were low. I don’t think he spent much time in the mid­dle.

“He was an in­tel­lec­tual and a philoso­pher in that he was in­ter­ested in words, but he was very much in his head.

“But be­cause he was friends with all these mu­si­cians and he wrote po­ems fate put him as a front man in a band.

“Turns out he’s one of the best front men that ever walked the earth.”

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