5 October 2023

Cast Mates: Australian Actors in Hollywood and at Home

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By Rama Gaind

By Sam Twyford-Moore, NewSouth Books, $34.99

It is difficult to mount a cultural history of Australian cinema – and its dependent relationship to Hollywood – going by the movies alone.

Cultural critic Sam Twyford-Moore adds another dimension. If, however, you can isolate actors, and study them individually, you might have a chance.

Cast Mates is an appealing group biography of Australian acting giants across the ages.

Australia has a long cinema history — starting with the world’s first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, made in Melbourne and released in 1906. Today, much of Australia’s film talent goes to the United States, looking for bigger and more lucrative opportunities. What does this mean for the history and future of Australian cinema?

The larger-than-life personalities that form the heart of this book — Errol Flynn, Peter Finch, David Gulpilil and Nicole Kidman — have dominated cinema screens both locally and internationally and starred in some of the biggest films of their eras — including The Adventures of Robin Hood, Network, Crocodile Dundee and Eyes Wide Shut among others.

The key players who feature in this book form four distinct, yet overlapping, eras.

Twyford-Moore says Australian actors worked consistently throughout the 20th century.
“Indeed, their lives – and migratory patterns – can trace the story of how a nation’s film industry was founded, then faltered and failed, before finding itself again.”

“It’s a cultural history worth investigating, because the story of Australian film is one that is largely in lockstep with the making of the nation itself following federation.”

“Unknowingly, it was Russell Crowe, who through his eccentric auction provided a thorough model for writing about the life of an actor. His mix of personal history and chronological filmography through cultural artifacts showed me the framework I need and he gave me its very starting point.”

Name the four Australian actors at the heart of Cast Mates. If your answer is correct, two lucky winners will get a copy of the book. Entries should be sent to [email protected] by Monday, 9 October 2023. Names of the winners will be published in the PSNews PS-sssst…! column on 10 October 2023.

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