You all know the story of Ned Kelly but how many of you have heard the story of Australia’s other bush ranger, Ben Hall? Well, we’re about to find out a hell of a lot more thanks to local filmmaker Matthew Holmes.
After an incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign which raised over $75,000, and the recent announcement of Greg Mclean (Wolf Creek) as executive producer, The Legend of Ben Hall is rapidly becoming a highly anticipated Australian film.
The synopsis reads: After three years on the road, Ben Hall and his gang are the most wanted men in the British Empire. As the law closes in around them, the desperate gang make plans to flee the colony; but unknown to them, an associate has sold them out for a huge reward. As Ben Hall seeks to make peace with his tortured past, the police and their informant set a cunning trap for the outlaws. As the mist rises from the fields on the cold morning of May 5th 1865, Ben Hall emerges from his camp… and walks into legend forever.
Here, Cinema Australia takes a look at the cast involved in bringing the story of Ben Hall to life. We also chat with a few of them along the way.
The role: Ben Hall – the man himself
Jack told Cinema Australia: “It’s a real honour to be able to bring Ben Hall to the screen, and introduce a new generation to a very important part of Australian history that could be in danger of being lost.”
They say: “Jack is a rising actor from Sydney who has been cast in the coveted title role due to superb dramatic talents and his uncanny physical likeness to the real Ben Hall. An intensely committed actor, Jack is immersing himself in history so he can deliver the most powerful portrayal of the doomed outlaw ever seen.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Christina McKinnon – one-time sweetheart of Ben Hall.
Lauren told Cinema Australia: “I’m excited to work on The Legend of Ben Hall because it’s such an enthralling true story and Matthew has done a wonderful task of re-telling it with the utmost historical accuracy. Plus, it’s an astonishingly beautiful script; it’s exciting, funny, heart-rending, charming and devastating all at once.
I think it’s going to resonate with audiences on an emotional level and every viewer will be affected by the experience. I can’t wait to share this story with audiences here and around the world.
Christina has a wonderfully instinctive sense of opportunism, which has likely developed out of necessity – like most women in colonial Australia, she had a harsh existence and did what she needed to do to survive, so she’s very clever in that sense. I also admire her confidence, charm and sensuality – she’s very self-assured and knows what she wants and how to get it.”
They say: “Lauren is beautiful and talented actress with a growing list of film, TV and theatre credits and we’re all very certain the world will sit and take notice when Lauren graces the screen alongside co-star Jack Martin.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: John Dunn – the teenage bushranger whose life was cut short after falling in with the Hall Gang.
William told Cinema Australia: “Who wouldn’t want to be involved in a project that is so rich in passion? This production is an underdog in every sense of the word, it is full of surprises and I get to be a part of it! I’m not only excited to recreate history, I’m excited to make history, and I feel The Legend of Ben Hall will accomplish just that.
Playing the youngest gang member, John Dunn, means I go through one of the most dramatic character developments in the film. I essentially get to start from scratch and let the film take me for the ride, much like Dunn did when joining the Hall gang. Dunn had the skills, and the ability to do great things. Somewhere along the way he got lost, and he was let down by the community around him. He made mistakes, and was not given the tools to rebuild his life, instead he was given a gun and the destruction that followed was unfathomable.
I don’t believe he knew what he had until it was too late and don’t we all face this in one way or another in our own lives.”
They say: “William is a highly committed and dedicated actor, and will be the first actor to portray this historical character in Australian cinema! Oh yeah, and he’s a kick-arse horse rider.” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: John Gilbert
Jamie told Cinema Australia: “It’s such a fantastic project to be a part of. The people behind this film are so passionate and the Australian historical aspect makes it so unique. I don’t think there are many Aussie films out there currently like this one.
John ‘Happy Jack’ Gilbert is the fun guy. He is charismatic, wild, unpredictable and dangerous. He’s so different from the others – you never know if he is going to kiss you or kill you.”
Profile: Studying drama and media at university Jamie Coffa has trained for film and theatre and has been a writer, filmmaker and crew member on many student films. Over the past several years he has studied his craft at Screen Actors Australia and has performed in short films, theatre, a corporate video and a mini-TV series. (Source: IMDB)
The role: Biddy Hall
Profile: Joanne Dobbin is an Australian actress born in England and moved to Australia with her family at a very young age. She started acting at the age of 9, keeping her skills up to date in intense acting training. Joanne has had gained roles in Swimming Upstream working opposite Jesse Spencer, guest roles on Australian television and TV commercials. (Source: IMDB)
The role: Sgt. Condell – pursued Ben Hall and his Gang for almost three years throughout the Central West
They say: “Gregory brings his trademark intensity and cold menace to the role. ‘The Legend of Ben Hall’ will be his second feature role for 2015.” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Constable Hipkiss
They say: “Micheal is an actor on the rise, currently appearing in Channel Nine’s mini-series Gallipoli. Also, a director, writer and musician, Micheal is a multi-talented performer making his mark in the industry. And making everyone smile along the way!” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Ben Hall gang informant.
They say: “Frank is a great actor as well as a musician. We look forward to working with him.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Peggy Monks – the sweetheart of notorious bushranger John Dunn
They say: “We are so pleased to announce that Melbourne actress PiaGrace Moon (Winners & Losers, Holding The Man) has been cast as Peggy Monks, the sweetheart of notorious bushranger John Dunn. PiaGrace gave us a splendid audition and we can’t wait to see her light up the screen with her energy and radiance.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Harry Nelson – young captive of the Hall Gang who watched his father being shot down by John Dunn in Collector.
They say: “Bailey is an amazing young actor who is carving out a promising career with his latest role in Channel 9’s Gallipoli, as well as multiple short films. The Legend of Ben Hall marks Bailey’s second collaboration with director Matthew Holmes after his amazing turn as a Black-Eyed Child in the 2014 short film The Artifice.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Frederick Nelson – the eldest son of Constable Nelson who joined him on his fateful walk to the Collector Hotel.
They say: “Caleb is a fantastic young actor with a fast growing body of work including Underbelly and the upcoming feature Holding the Man.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Thomas Kimberley – his hotel in Collector was ransacked by the Hall Gang
They say: “We look forward to working with Gavin on this very dramatic scene.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Bill Hall – the older brother of Ben Hall
They say: “We are very proud to announce the casting of Benjamin Chisholm in the role of Bill Hall, the older brother of Ben Hall. Benjamin is a vibrant and talented actor and we’re looking forward to seeing his portrayal of another member of the Hall family. Congratulations Benjamin and welcome to the team.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Mary-Ann Coneley – the wife of Ben Hall’s betrayer.
They say: “Erica stunned the casting team with an remarkable self-audition tape. Erica has appeared in numerous theatre productions and some great short films. She will make her feature film debut on The Legend of Ben Hall.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Mrs. Nelson – the brave wife of the doomed policeman, Samuel Nelson
They say: “Josephine is a wonderful actress who will no doubt bring a gripping humanity to the role! Welcome, Josephine.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Constable Samuel Nelson
They say: “150 years ago, this brave policeman died in the line of duty. We know Gerrard will do this man proud with a gripping portrayal.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Ellen Monks – girlfriend of the notorious John Gilbert.
They say: “Lauren is an incredible actress with a big future ahead, and we’re glad to be a part of her journey! Welcome Lauren – can’t wait to see you bring this ‘pocket-rocket’ character to the big screen!” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Henry Hall – the estranged son of Ben Hall. Congratulations Zane
They say: “We hope this marks the start of a great career in film, theatre… or maybe even martial arts? He’s quite the talented little chap, as we discovered.” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Eliza Mensey – the young woman who captured Ben Hall’s attention while the gang ransacked the Collector Hotel in 1865.
They say: “Fantine already has a very impressive body of work on Film and TV, and no doubt has a bright future in the industry. Welcome to the team, Fantine.” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Inspector Sandersonom
They say: “Tom brings an authoritative yet human touch to the real-life character. Tom is an award-winning performer on the stage around Melbourne, and is active in many performance mediums. We’re very lucky to have him involved.” (Source http://www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Billy Dargin
They say: “Angus is a dynamic actor from Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory and is one of Australia’s emerging Indigenous onscreen talents! Watch for him Matthew Holmes’ next feature film Territorial.” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Detective James Pye – famously captured bushranger Frank Gardiner before turning his efforts on the Ben Hall Gang.
They say: “James brings a brooding intensity to the role of this determined officer. James is also a musician in the band Brothers Grim & The Blue Murders.” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Tracker Charley – a major part of the NSW police hunting down the bushrangers.
They say: “Curtis is a Western Australian actor and filmmaker who has made several outstanding films about Martu culture and his own narrative stories. Curtis is interested in traditional culture and how modern technology merges with traditional beliefs.” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
The role: Constable Buckley – an eager young NSW police officer.
They say: “Nathan is a rising star with a growing collection of short films and videos to his name, with his eye of many great opportunities to come.” (Source www.facebook.com/benhallmovie)
And the rest…
DEAN KIRKRIGHT – Constable Roche
CRIS COCHRANE – Tom Byrnes
BAILEY BARBOUR – Harry Nelson
ADAM LA ROSA – Constable Wiles
BRENTON FOALE – Magistrate Rose
ADRIAN MULRANEY – William Davis
STEVE SAMMUT – Constable Caban
ADAM WILLSON – Mick Coneley
DARREN HOLMES – Constable McLaughlin
BRUCE GLEESON – Henry Ludford
JOSHUA JAEGER – Gold Digger
ELLA HILL-COTTER – Davis Servant Girl #2
DYLAN LLOYD – Tom Higgins
NADIA FRAGNITO – Davis Servant Girl #1