JUST about everyone at Adelaide Studios to meet the stars of the new Storm Boy knew the 1976 original — except the man playing Mike “Storm Boy” senior, actor Geoffrey Rush.
“I was away studying in Europe when that film got released so I haven’t had a proper look at it,” the celebrated Australian Hollywood star confessed.
“I do know that this version ... is a beautiful fresh evocation of Colin Thiele’s original 1950s setting.”
Rush, who won a best actor Oscar for the last film he made in Adelaide, Shine, said he was excited to receive the script which twists the original story so Mike Kingley is now a grandfather who tells the story of his relationship with the pelican, Mr Percival, in flashback to his granddaughter.
Rush joked that when he got the script he thought they wanted him as Mr Percival after he played the voice of the pelican Nigel in the animated children’s hit Finding Nemo.
“I like a challenge and the opportunity to do a live action Mr Percival was a very big drawcard,” he said. “Then of course I realised they wanted me to play an old guy.”
Mike Kingley junior, the role made famous by unknown South Australian actor Greg Rowe, has gone to Queensland actor Finn Little who Rush had just met. He said Little, and the young female star Morgana Davies who plays his granddaughter, were exceptional young actors.
“I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from them because they’ve got no baggage; they’re just working on beautiful, pure creative impulses,” Rush said.
Apart from the star power Storm Boy brings to town — the role of Hideaway Tom is being played by Hollywood A-lister Jai Courtney, last seen in Suicide Squad — a film of this scale is serious business for the state.
Storm Boy, which has been in production here since June and starts filming next week, will join the sci fi robot thriller Mother with rising star Clara Rugaard which will start filming soon, while the second series of Wolf Creek is on location. SAFC chief executive Annabelle Sheehan said the projects were putting more than $15 million into the economy and providing 400 jobs.
Arts Minister, Jack Snelling, said a movie of this scale was like a small town going out into regional SA and the State Government had invested $500,000 of regional funding. Once the project was announced, the SAFC fought hard to make sure the uniquely South Australian story returned to the same Coorong landscape that inspired the story and were in the original.
“I have to admire the courage of the producers because if they mess it up, they will be chased out of South Australia,” Mr Snelling said.
The new film already has a guaranteed international audience who will see South Australia’s unique estuary landscape, and its birdlife.
“I’m sure when our foreign markets and global companions around the world see the wonderful locations that are in South Australia they will just be in awe,” producer Matthew Street said.