Q&A

Wayne Hope, pro­ducer, writer & ac­tor, 50

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - Front Page - By Cathy Osmond Pho­tog­ra­phy Jesse Mar­low ◖ ◗

To many you’ll al­ways be Wayne Ker­ri­gan, the older brother do­ing time for armed rob­bery in The Cas­tle (1997). What does that film mean to you? It has been an ab­so­lute gift. At a Work­ing Dog [pro­duc­tion com­pany] re­union last year we all told sto­ries about the gen­eral pub­lic quot­ing the film back to us over the years. I was at the lights in St Kilda once and a rough-look­ing guy wound his car win­dow down and said [deep voice]: “How’s Mum?” I played along: “Good.” Then he said: “How’s Dad?” I thought, “Oh god, we’re go­ing to do the whole scene!” What a deep im­pres­sion that film made.

You write, pro­duce, act and di­rect with your wife Robyn But­ler in your pro­duc­tion com­pany Grist­mill (Up­per Mid­dle Bo­gan, Lit­tle Lunch). Any pit­falls? I worry that my an­swer will be so naff and peo­ple will be rolling their eyes. But it just works. I ab­so­lutely love work­ing with Robyn – and I have done for 20 years. But we have a life out­side of work, too.

Such as? We watch telly [laughs]. We also have two daugh­ters, Molly and Emily, who we see a lot of, and ex­tended fam­ily…

It’s 10 years since you cre­ated the morally am­bigu­ous small-busi­ness­man Don An­gel for TV. Why re­vive him for Back in Very Small Busi­ness? One thing we won­dered was: “Why do peo­ple like Don keep pre­vail­ing (he now has sev­eral staff) and what is it about their per­son­al­i­ties that al­lows them to rise up again?” It was a com­plete co­in­ci­dence that an­other suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man called Don emerged in the US…

How do you pitch satire at this time in pol­i­tics? Robyn and co-writer Gary McCaf­frie and I were drawn to the chal­lenge of writ­ing in this “us and them” en­vi­ron­ment. I find it in­ter­est­ing to ex­am­ine peo­ple you might au­to­mat­i­cally op­pose – you ask: where are they com­ing from and why do I find it un­com­fort­able?

You were raised in Wan­tirna in Mel­bourne’s outer east. Did you dream about “get­ting out”? The great thing about sub­ur­bia is that you’re not aware of any­thing else. But once I had a taste for drama in se­nior high school, every­thing changed. I en­rolled to do com­merce at Monash Univer­sity, then my drama teacher called me about au­di­tions for a theatre com­pany…

How did your mum han­dle you ditch­ing uni? She came from a big fam­ily of Dutch im­mi­grants; fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity was im­por­tant so she pan­icked about that. It was only when I met Robyn that she went, “Well, re­gard­less of the ca­reer he’s go­ing to be fine.”

Do peo­ple ex­pect you to be funny at so­cial events? There is an ex­pec­ta­tion, but you don’t re­sent it be­cause lanc­ing ten­sion is like a gut re­sponse. Many peo­ple in com­edy will have been try­ing to find lev­ity in sit­u­a­tions from a young age – in my case, it was my par­ents’ trou­bled mar­riage that made me play the clown. But as you get older you have to stop turn­ing ev­ery sit­u­a­tion into “boom, tish”; it’s not al­ways ap­pro­pri­ate. Lis­ten­ing can be as ef­fec­tive as mak­ing a wise­crack.

lis­ten­ing Can Be as ef­feC­tive as Mak­ing a Wise­CraCk

What do you think your girls have learnt from watch­ing their par­ents? Molly is an ac­tor and writer and Emily has a beau­ti­ful in­dif­fer­ence to the in­dus­try. But they have both been in­cred­i­bly in­flu­enced by Robyn, at a time when there’s a push for fe­male writ­ers and di­rec­tors. She’s been at the fore­front for 15 years. And they see a bal­anced re­la­tion­ship be­tween their par­ents. Oh god, peo­ple are re­ally rolling their eyes now! starts on September 5, 9pm on ABC and ABC iview

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