Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
Q&A: Actor John Jarratt talks about “WOLF CREEK” and the future of Mick Taylor!Features/Interviews,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
WOLF CREEK has had one hell of a journey, going from independent horror sensation to now a lauded television series in its own right. With the finale of the WOLF CREEK series hitting the US tonight, FANGORIA caught up with the franchise’s own John Jarratt about his time bringing the infamous Mick Taylor to the small screen…
FANGORIA: How did you get involved with the WOLF CREEK series?
JOHN JARRATT: There are three things it takes to make a decent series: the script, the script, and the script. When they told me about the script, I was a bit dubious at first because I couldn’t imagine WOLF CREEK as a TV series, to be honest. But Greg MacLean, the director, who’s always been smarter than me anyways, sent me the script, which I read and thought they were very, very good. The scripts were better than I could have imagined, so I was very happy with the foundation stones of the project and off I went. I’m very happy with how it all turned out.
FANG: Did you do anything particularly special with Mick that you couldn’t do in the films?
JARRATT: Nothing really; Mick’s a pretty shallow character. He’s a particular animal in that he does the same thing over and over again. To be true to the character, I played him as this shallow character who does what he does. Mick doesn’t have any Freudian moments, and he certainly doesn’t think it’s his mother’s fault or anything.
FANG: This is the first time you worked on a WOLF CREEK project with a director other than Greg MacLean, who only directed the finale. What was that experience like for you?
JARRATT: Working with Tony Tilse was a breath of fresh air. To be honest with you, if you’re a comedy actor that does very well with someone, like Martin & Lewis, working with someone else can be pretty scary. I was so used to WOLF CREEK being something that Greg and I would do, but Tony took his responsibilities very seriously and has done a lot of high-end television in Australia. He was more experienced with that aspect of directing, and that was very helpful. He’d seen the WOLF CREEK films, and he knew they were very close to what he considered the genre to be, so I enjoyed working with him immensely. He’s a fun guy, he enjoys what he does, he’s very enthusiastic, and he’s got a great sense of humor like Greg. We had a really great time making it, thank goodness.
FANG: What was your experience like working with Lucy Frye?
JARRATT: In WOLF CREEK 2, I did a lot with Ryan Corr, which was great, but in the series, they had this tall, thin schoolgirl who was going to take the trouble to Mick. When I read the script, I actually thought, “How are they gonna find someone who can convincingly do that? Who can they find that’s a young actress, possibly inexperienced, who can stand up to me? When I play Mick, I can’t hold back.” So I was a bit worried we wouldn’t find someone who couldn’t face off against Mick, because that’s what the series really depends on. But then Lucy turned up, and she- as a human being- is a “devil may care” rainbow-type of girl. She’s an Aussie, too, by the way.
When she showed up on set, she was like, “Oh, hello, John! It’s so great to meet you! I’m so excited to do this!” and I was like, “Oh boy, we’re in trouble.” But then they hit the clapperboard, this other thing happened, and she got so tough, and she didn’t just serve it up to me: she threw it at me. She was great, and she was like a caged animal that came loose. She’s very good, and I loved working with her.
FANG: Were you surprised about the backstory they reveal about Mick on the series? Did you have to change your performance at all?
JARRATT: Well, I didn’t have to incorporate it into my performance because I’d known my backstory already. If I was illuminated by that backstory, it would have been a problem because I rely a lot on my backstory as an actor. I had that in place before I did the first WOLF CREEK, so it didn’t do a damn thing. Greg knew Mick’s backstory, and when he started writing the series, he was well aware of where we thought Mick came from. So having that stuff come to light didn’t influence my performance at all, to be honest.
I actually don’t know how an actor can walk on set and give a performance if they don’t know where the hell that character comes from. That’s just the way it works. So it didn’t matter if it’s WOLF CREEK or anything else I do, I try to find an angle on where my character is from, and once I get to set, that’s when I try putting in as many aspects of John Jarratt as I possibly can because it’s easier when I can do that. The more of me I can put into the character, the truer the performance will be.
FANG: Was there any particularly memorable moment from the shooting of the series?
JARRATT: I think the duel I had with Lucy was fun. When she first showed up to set, she was pretty skinny, so I told her, “You’re going to need to work out.” So I got her working with my trainer, and it became a bit of a competition to see who could do the most chin-ups and sit-ups. If I beat her at anything, I’d tell her, “I’m an old man! If you can’t beat an old man, how can you beat Mick Taylor?” So we had those fun and games, and Lucy has a great sense of humor, so I enjoyed the day-to-day banter.
The most amazing day, for me, had nothing to do with me. I was there on set for the day where Lucy cut her hair off on-screen. It was an extraordinary moment, and it made the hair on my neck stand up. It was a great moment to see.
FANG: Was it a relief that you didn’t have to shoulder as much of the series as you would in a film?
JARRATT: That was good because it was like it wasn’t about chasing Mick; Lucy was the real star of the show. Mick’s always around the corner, like he pops up everywhere and when he pops up, the horror fans get those horror moments. That was interesting, and I’d say that’s the nature of the beast. It was also enjoyable because I was staying in a really nice apartment with my wife on the beach in Adelaide, so it was great to have those moments for myself. So I’d walk around the beach after I’d rip someone’s guts out in the sun on the road in the middle of the desert. It was a good time!
FANG: Has there been any talk about returning for another season of WOLF CREEK?
JARRATT: They’re talking about a second series, and we’ll probably do a second series because it did extraordinarily well in Australia. It went just off-the-charts, so there’s room for Mick to come back. Evil never dies, I’ll say that, as to not spoil anything.
The Season Finale of WOLF CREEK airs tonight at 10 p.m. on Pop TV.