Australians to a man are proud of the great talent that was our Bill Hunter, and now we have lost him to cancer. His screen career was launched as an extra in ‘On the Beach’ filmed in 1959 in Melbourne with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, and his talent proceeded to rise in stature and class during a time when the Australian film industry was beginning to earn the worldwide respect it so deserved.
Bill Hunter was as Aussie as the Opera House, Uluru, the Simpson Desert and the Holden Kingswood. Each character he portrayed – whether the stoic and dependable Major Barton in Gallipoli, or a shady two-timer such as Barry Fife in Strictly Ballroom, or Muriel’s corrupt politician dad in Muriel’s Wedding – you saw a strength in the man, an innate quality that made you wish he was one of your mates. A fine actor and a very fine Australian, I’m not sure he’d be all that fussed about being referred to as a legend because everything about Bill Hunter was real and genuine. I reckon he’d prefer everyone just have a beer on him and toast a man who was very much one of our own.
Bill leaves us with so many fine moments on screen but for me, his portrayal of Major Barton preparing to lead his young Anzacs in the doomed ‘over the top’ assault at Lone Pine in the final scene of Peter Weir’s film, Gallipoli, embodies just what an instinctively fine actor he was.
He will be very, very deeply missed.Copyright © 2008-2012 by Wendy. All rights reserved.