What’s still funny about Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story
THE wig doesn’t seem to fit properly and the chauvinist ’70s jokes won’t hit their mark with today’s feminists.
But is there still something to love – and laugh – about the rags-to-riches tale of arguably Australia’s greatest larrikin and showbiz success story?
Channel 7’s biopic Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story explores the extraordinary transformation of a humble suburban kid, turned Sydney Harbour Bridge painter, into one of our pioneering TV talents and box- office record holders, still living an unlikely Hollywood dream.
Josh Lawson, who shares the telemovie’s lead role with Glitch and Puberty Blues actor Sean Keenan, believes the audience has much to learn and celebrate about this local hero.
“He lived such a fascinationing and surprising life,” Lawson told TV Guide, during filming of the two-part series in Brisbane last year.
“He was the guy you’d least expect it all to happen to. He was complex but he was simple in a lot of ways too. Perhaps his greatest appeal was that he appeared to be so simple, raw and honest. When he first went on TV, there hadn’t been a character like that. TV was [all] put-together gentlemen with articulate voices and then Hoges burst in looking like a bloke you’d have a beer with,” Lawson said.
Indeed, that cheeky bloke born in Lightning Ridge and raised in Sydney’s south-west made his TV debut back in 1971 on a dare; winning over viewers when he skewered the judges on Channel Nine’s popular star search series, New Faces.
That appearance led to a weekly gig, offering a satirical take on the week’s news or popular culture on A Current Affair, hosted then by Mike Willesee.
A young producer on the show, John Cornell (played by The Secret River’s Ryan Corr), saw Hoges’ potential and developed a program around him; forming the basis of their long-standing friendship and the business and creative partnership behind the phenomenally successful Crocodile Dundee films.
The Paul Hogan Show would produce some of the most risque sketches Australia had ever seen and introduce the country to Delvene Delaney, a beauty pageant winner (played by Nikki Osbourne) who would become one of Hoges’ sidekicks and Cornell’s wife.
The gender politics of the day provided much of Hogan’s material and is expected to jar with many viewers today.
But as Lawson explained: “It’s part of why these shows [biopics] are so popular. You not only look at the life of the person but you’re also investigating the time. This is no different. We look at comedy television and film over the years.”
His preparation for the role was engrossing. Still, the Anchorman2 actor is expecting criticism.
“People remember Hoges and they know him, they love him, so they have expectations about my version, I guess. There’s a real and tangible comparison … they’re probably protective. I had all of that to consider. I put a lot of pressure on myself … that’s par for the course.”
Lawson claimed he had the blessing of the man himself, after speaking to him over the phone before production began.
“What you see is what you get,” he said. “He’s a really down-to-earth, humble, self-deprecating and genuine bloke.
“It must have been a weird thing for someone to call up and say, ‘Hey, I’m playing you’, and pepper him with questions. He handled it all with a great deal of class. It’s nice to know I have his blessing at this early stage.”
HOGES: THE PAUL HOGAN STORY
TONIGHT, 8.30PM, SEVEN. CONTINUES NEXT SUNDAY.
Cheeky: Josh Lawson (above centre) as Paul Hogan; inset, Hogan with John Cornell and Delvene Delaney.