We caught up with The Legend of Ben Hall’s leading man himself, Jack Martin, ahead of the film’s DVD and Blu-ray release.
“I’m very passionate about actors being well researched and prepared for their work.”
Interview by Matthew Eeles
Had you ever heard of Ben Hall before going into the role?
I had heard of Ben Hall, but when I first found out about the film I wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything about him. It was after I researched a little bit into Ben Hall history that I found a connection and, ultimately I guess a sympathy with Hall himself that led me to apply for the role in the first place.
Did you do any personal research on the character, or was most of that done for you going into the role?
Absolutely! I’m very passionate about actors being well researched and prepared for their work. With this being a historical film, that responsibility was heightened in the extreme because the finer details were there in historical record, as opposed to a fictitious film where creative interpretation of the script is required. I read everything I could get my hands on to prepare for the role, I spoke to historians, visited museums and historical societies, traveled to significant locations – literally anything I could do, I did. In hindsight it probably bordered on obsession, but that was the nature of taking on such a unique role and how I interpreted the responsibility of accurately portraying a real person.
Can you share one of your favourite memories with us about your time on set?
I have so, so many fond memories from filming but one of the things I miss the most is the horse riding. There is really nothing like galloping around paddocks and fields at full pelt – throw in gun fights and cool bushranger attire and you’ve got my inner child very happy!
You work with a very talented cast. Can you tell us a bit about working with some of the other actors?
To be honest, I owe a lot to the extended cast. In the film we follow Hall as he moves across the countryside as a result, there are so many different characters that come in and out of the story, and many that make just one or two appearances. My experience filming was similar in that there were so many instances where I would meet an actor, work with him/her for a day and then the following morning meet a new actor or group or actors and do the same again. What I’m really grateful for was the support I received from everyone as they came and went, their excitement and enthusiasm really energised me especially on days when I’d been filming for weeks straight and began to feel the schedule and emotional weight of the role. So I’m really grateful to have had such a supportive and friendly cast to have been through this experience with, and many of them are still good friends as a result.
Matthew Holmes is a very passionate and hardworking filmmaker. Can you tell us about working with the director on The Legend of Ben Hall?
First of all, I’ve never come across anyone who works at such a consistent level of quality in everything he does. Matt is beyond hardworking, filmmaking is his life and it shows in his work. Not just the film, but promotional materials, engaging and including his audience, social media – I’m not even 100% sure he sleeps at all to be honest!
You’ve been lucky enough to meet some of Ben Hall’s direct descendants. How was it meeting those people. Did you feel a connection to them in some way having invested so much in Hall?
One of the most humbling experiences during production was meeting and having the support of the Hall descendants. I could never have assumed the blessing of anyone, let alone relatives of Hall himself, and for them to have stood by me and my interpretation and portrayal of their family history was very special.
You’re also a musician. Has music taken a back seat having travelled so much with the film?
Very much so. I made a tough decision to leave the band I was playing in in order to be away filming and promoting the film, and as much as I miss playing music actively, I made the right call and don’t regret it at all.
What’s the one message you’d like to tell our readers about the film who haven’t seen it yet?
Overall I suppose one of the biggest messages to be taken from the film is that Australia has such a vast and colourful history that so often gets ignored and is in some areas in danger of being forgotten. I feel as though films like The Legend of Ben Hall are important not just because it’s an entertaining insight into our colonial past, but because the exposure of such stories will for a lot of people instigate and nurture an interest in further research and education into history in general, a topic that is far more interesting than a lot of high school textbooks will lead you to believe!
It’s been announced that you’ll be reprising your role of Ben Hall in two prequels to the film. What can you tell us about the progress of those film
Yes! And I couldn’t be more excited about it! They’re both in the development stages, but the scripts are so wonderfully written I can’t wait for the opportunity to start filming. Better still, this time around we’ve got a great platform in The Legend of Ben Hall to showcase what we’re capable of and the direction we’re going with these films, which hopefully will give us more capacity to make the next two even bigger and better.
The Legend of Ben Hall is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.