Interviewed on April 14th, 2014
Interviewed by Michael Juvinall
John Jarratt is a name that most genre fans might not be familiar with, but you should be. Jarratt is a notoriously underrated actor probably best known to horror fans as the brutal serial killer Mick Taylor in the 2005 film, Wolf Creek and the upcoming long-awaited sequel Wolf Creek 2. But unbeknownst to most people in America, Jarratt has been working in his native Australia in film and television for the past 40 years. Much of his work hasn’t crossed over to these shores, but don’t let that stop you from checking out this amazing actor’s previous work, such as the genre films Dark Age (1987), Rogue (2007), Bad Behaviour (2010), Needle (2010), Shiver (2012), 100 Bloody Acres (2012) and more.
Quentin Tarantino is such a big fan of Jarratt’s that he cast him with a cameo in Django Unchained where he played a part alongside Tarantino himself. It’s been a long road since the critically acclaimed Wolf Creek was released and now eight years later, the iconic villain Mick Taylor is back in the long-awaited sequel Wolf Creek 2. I recently had the pleasure to speak with Jarratt about what it is like to play Mick Taylor, where the character came from, and more.
Read our review of Wolf Creek 2 here!
Horror Society: Hello Mr. Jarratt how are you?
John Jarratt: Hi Michael. Very well indeed, yourself?
HS: Great. I just wanted to thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to speak with me and the readers of Horror Society. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.
HS: I’ve seen Wolf Creek 2 and it’s a really great film and you do such a sensational job in it.
JJ: Thank you, thank you very much.
HS: Wolf Creek 2 will be hitting VOD in America on April 17th and Theaters on May 16th here in the States.
HS: To start off. Did you have to do much preparation for stepping back into the shoes of Mick Taylor in Wolf Creek 2?
JJ: No mate. I worked it out in the first one and I knew it worked. It’s quite an iconic film in Australia so when I walk the streets and people say “give me the laugh” you know, he’s never been that far away from me. I worked fairly extensively with Greg (McLean) on Wolf Creek 2. When we got on location, it was like putting on an old pair of shoes I suppose.
HS: Great. Is there a certain aspect of Mick’s character that you like the best?
JJ: I like his, what we call “larrikinism”; I don’t know if you know what a larrikin is. It’s a sort of happy-go-lucky or devil-may-care attitude. The character is actually an impersonation of my Dad, if my Dad was an evil psychopath. So, if you take the evil psychopath out of Mick, he’s basically my Dad. He was a bit of an outback hero of mine. He was quite a funny guy, a big, hardworking, take no prisoners kind of bloke. I enjoyed that aspect of him.
JJ: Oh yeah, I’d do another one as long as it successful. If we can encourage your population over there to go out and see Wolf Creek 2, we’ll definitely do a third one.
HS: I think Wolf Creek 2 is going to do great over here. I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to do good business.
JJ: I hope so. Not many people know about it, but it’s a good film. It just depends on how well we do with the selling of it I suppose.
HS: Does the violence in those two films bother you at all or is that just part of the films for you?
JJ: It’s the character I’m playing. I’m playing a psychopathic killer, he hunts kangaroos and backpackers. It’s kind of like being afraid of the gay aspect if you’re gonna play Liberace you know, it’s what you gotta do. It’s one aspect of my craft that I find intriguing is to find a character like that. For me, I’m a family man with six children; serial killers are not high on my list of the kind of people I like. It’s a wonderful thing to get into the skin of these mad creatures. There are plenty of them out there, it was only 20 years ago that Ku Klux Klansmen were stringing black people up on trees in your country. There’s a lot of that kind of behavior in the world so I think it is worth exploring and looking at and horror is obviously the genre that it comes out in.
JJ: Oh no, I enjoy working on every film. I can hardly wait to get up in the morning to work and with 40 years in this business, I just love what I do, whether it’s a horror film or anything else. I never get up and say “oh my God, I gotta do a horror film today.” I just leap out of bed; I love what I do no matter what job it happens to be at the time.
HS: Your character Mick Taylor, he’s such an iconic villain. In my opinion, he belongs right up there alongside the other great villains of cinema.
JJ: I’ve been in lists with Robert DeNiro of Cape Fear and Anthony Hopkins, I’ve been in these lists with these amazing actors, so that’s been quite an honor.
HS: How was it for you to work again with Greg McLean the director of Wolf Creek 2?
JJ: It kind of wasn’t like working again. The Wolf Creek team is pretty close and Greg is very generous with how he works. He works with you and I worked many years on Wolf Creek 2 script with Greg. Once he had written the second draft, he’s very inclusive and it felt like I had been working on Wolf Creek 2 for about 4 or 5 years you know.
JJ: Call me John mate; I can’t stand being called Mr. Jarratt.
HS: OK, John you mentioned that Mick Taylor’s character is basically your father minus the serial killer. When you and Greg were developing the original Wolf Creek, how much input did you have into Mick’s character?
JJ: Oh, everything. I said to Greg, “who’s the character?” He told me and I read the script, I took aspects of that and then I built the character how I wanted him to be. Unlike Greg, I’ve lived in the outback. As a kid I was brought up in a little country town. I’m probably more familiar with that culture than he is. So I built the character around what he’d given me and then I put as much of me in as I possibly could because that makes the character truthful.
HS: Awesome! I also wanted to mention, I loved your film Shiver from 2012. How do you think Mick Taylor differs from your character in Shiver, the Gryphon?
JJ: Oh Mick would eat him for breakfast. He wouldn’t last three seconds. He was very different. He was a nerdy, well educated, creepy little guy. I found that very attractive. He’s a tougher character to get than Mick because Mick is close to me and this guy was an American nerd. I had to work pretty hard on that character. He’s not much like me; I’m not a nerdy kind of person. He was a very interesting and intriguing character to play, I really enjoyed that too. I’m sorry it didn’t do better.
HS: What do you have coming up next John?
JJ: Well, I just took a couple of hours off from editing a film I just acted and directed in called StalkHer, which will come out in Australia later this year and hopefully over there in 2015. Its byline is “He chased her until she caught him” and it’s kind of a cross between Misery and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
HS: Oh OK, it sounds interesting. John, I wanted to thank you so much for talking with me. I wish the best of luck for Wolf Creek 2 and everything you do in the future. You’re such a wonderful actor; I enjoy seeing everything you do.
JJ: G’day mate and thanks for your support, I really appreciate it.
Watch the official trailer for Wolf Creek 2 here,