Cult Australian horror Wolf Creek shook audiences to the bone when it was released back in 2005, introducing to the world the maniacal Mick Taylor, a pig-shooter turned serial killer, hell-bent on ridding the Outback of all those pesky tourists.
We caught up with Mick’s real-life alter ego, the slightly less terrifying John Jarratt, to talk about bringing the character to the small screen in FOX’s spine-tingling new adaptation, as well as the joys of playing a psychopath and his hopes for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 2…
So how does it feel to be returning to the character of Mick?
It’s always a ton of fun to play old Mick. He always has a good time, enjoys himself! Taking out tourists and stuff; just another day in the life. It’s pretty straightforward. He’s much the same as he always is! It was hard in the first movie, developing the character, but now it’s like riding a bike. I’m pretty well on top of the character, know exactly what to do. I’m well-trained in the art of Mick!
You say it was difficult at first. How did you get into the mindset of such a foul character?
It did take a long time! The first time I played him in the original, I did a bit of research into serial killers. That guy in Australia… I tried to find out a little bit about the lack of empathy and what a psychopath is and how they get their rocks off doing it. And then it was trying to justify Mick’s mind and how he lives with himself. It’s just like hunting kangaroos, these backpackers, but you can have a lot more fun with ‘em!
Did you read much into the stories of Ivan Milat and Bradley Murdoch, the real-life killers on which Mick is based?
No. (laughs) Greg (McLean) and I decided to use a few of their techniques, but to come up with a completely fictional character. The real guys were gruesome, but I wanted to come up with my own character of this psychopath serial killer. A mate of mine describes him as the anti-Dundee, which i think is a pretty good description.
What do you think was the worst thing that you’ve had to as Mick?
Well, I could tell ya, but I’d have to kill ya! It’s a bit of a spoiler. It’s in the first episode of the series we just did. The first ten minutes. It’s full on. You’ll have to watch it to find out!
Is it very different playing the role in a TV show compared to playing him on film?
No. It’s exactly the same. The only difference is that the writing in it becomes episodic, which is what good television’s all about. Making you watch the next one. That’s the device, but that doesn’t change anything that I do as Mick Taylor. The clapperboard goes and I become Mick Taylor; it’s exactly the same as the movie in that respect. If I change him in any way now, I’d be lying to the character.
How do you turn off the Mick at the end of a day of filming?
(camping it up) Oh, I just say goodbye to the character and turn it off and become myself again. I just play around with my little friends and turn back into Mick again when the time comes! (laughs)
And how do your “little friends” react to you as Mick?
Well I’m taking the piss, mate! (laughs) No, I walk away from Mick pretty quickly. I have a shave and then I go home!
So for, you it really is a case of just stepping into the character and then stepping out again…
At the end of it, yeah. I do walk away from it very quickly. I want to shed it. There’s the dark side of playing that character, so I have be in there during the TV show or the films. You have to be in that mode. It’s hard to describe it, but you’ve gotta be in that “area” without becoming a wanker bloody method actor! Occassionally, y’know, I’m sixty-four and the younger actors in their thirties or forties, I’ll start sparring with them… I’m a bit of a boxer… so I’ll smack ‘em around a bit just to amuse myself or belittle them a little (laughs). I like bashing ‘em up.
With the success of the TV show, is Wolf Creek 3 still on the cards?
With this TV show, we’re talking about doing another one, and then maybe a movie, and then probably I’ll be in a walking frame shortly after that! Mick Taylor’ll be knocking out the Outback Retirement Home!
With the international success of the show, do you think we’ll be seeing more Australian productions on screens across the globe?
Oh yeah! Any international success is good for any industry, no matter what it is. So, yeah. I mean, forty percent of the films you wanna see has got an Australian in it at the minute. And you guys (Britain) have been doing pretty well too, quietly. The Fassbenders of this world. Of course if your film industry’s doing well, everyone’s doing well.
Having finished with Mick, for the time being at least, what would be the perfect antithesis to move onto next?
Well, a nice gay character might work! (laughs) Just some worn-out old transvestite! Maybe Priscilla 2, blasting out some old Barbra Streisand songs or something! I don’t think about it. I just do the next script that’s thrown at me if it’s any good! I’m doing a film called Boar at the moment, about a huge pig. I’m playing the hero in this one for a change, instead of a nasty bastard. I’m only evil when people are paying me!
Wolf Creek, Tuesdays at 10pm only on FOX