THE LAST WORD... ‘ I didn’t want Guy Pearce for Priscilla … handsome’ he is too pretty, he was too
WITH STEPHAN ELLIOTT, WRITER AND DIRECTOR OF THEADVENTURESOFPRISCILLA,QUEENOFTHEDESERT
“I THINK the heart and soul of the film [ The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert] that works is that amid all the glitz, glamour, showing off, bitchy lines and great songs there was a really simple story about a man [Hugo Weaving as Anthony Belrose/Mitzi Del Bra] trying to come out to his son. I had been wanting to make a movie musical but they [studio bosses] said it was a dead genre and that I would need a gimmick. I was a sitting at a bar in Sydney’s Oxford St one night and I suddenly found it [drag queens lip-synching].
The honest truth is that I didn’t want him [Guy Pearce, who played Adam Whiteley/Felicia Jollygoodfellow]. I said, ‘He is too pretty, he was too handsome’.
For him, I think it was a chance to go out and kill Mike from Neighbours. It was his chance to put [that character] to bed. He took to it with a vengeance. When he was in character [Adam/Felicia], he could do everything that Mike from Neighbours was never allowed to do.
Terence Stamp was terrified about playing Bernadette. He really was at a point where something had to change for him. He had reached the end of that road of being ‘the sexiest man alive’ for his day. He was getting a little bit long in the tooth. It was a total challenge. It threatened everything.
His reaction was, ‘There is absolutely no way in the world’ which I expected when I gave him the script. I said, ‘Why wouldn’t you do this’ and he said, ‘Because I’m terrified’. I said, ‘Shouldn’t this be exactly what you do for a living?’
I think he was coaxed into it by friends. He was genuinely very uncomfortable for the first two weeks of the shoot. It was the moment of putting him in front of a live crowd in drag – up until then we had been in the studio – that he crossed the line. At the end of his first number, everyone burst into applause. From that moment, I think, he realised it was OK – that he was going to survive.” BETWEEN A FROCK AND A HARD PLACE THURSDAY, 8.30PM, ABC