Interview: John Howard

Cinema Australia Original Content:

John Howard with his The Merger co-star Damian Callinan who also wrote the screenplay for the film.

We caught up with actor John Howard to discuss his new film, The Merger, directed by Mark Grentell (Backyard Ashes).

The Merger is a hilarious, honest and heartwarming Australian comedy based on comedian Damian Callinan’s critically acclaimed solo show of the same name.

Here’s the synopsis: The township of Bodgy Creek has seen better days: the population is dwindling, jobs are scarce & the litter has built up around the fading Tidy Town sign. The next victim of the town’s decline is the cash strapped Aussie Rules footy club.

Barely able to field a team, the club is reeling from news that their clubrooms have been condemned due to asbestos contamination. A left field solution to their woes comes in the form of former football star Troy Carrington [Damian Callinan] Having fallen out with the community over leading protests that led to the closure of the local timber mill, Troy is living a hermit like existence on the towns fringe. However, he is coaxed into coaching after striking up an unlikely friendship with young Neil [Rafferty Grierson] who is struggling with the recent loss of his father. Teaming up with Neil’s mum Angie [Kate Mulvany], who is running a nearby refugee support centre, they conspire to recruit the new arrivals to save the team. However, the plan is not well received by Neil’s Grandad & Club President Bull Barlow [John Howard], who leads a concerted protest to undermine the refugee’s settlement.

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For all Troy’s good intentions, his initial efforts to turn this rabble into a team seems to be faltering. Aside from the brilliant Sayyid, [Fayssal Bazzi] the team are going backwards & some of the players resent the newcomers. Slowly, the team begins to gel & the refugees assimilate into the community. Bull, having formed a friendship with his new neighbour Sayyid through shared grief, jumps on board the bandwagon as the Roosters head towards the finals. However, as a Grand Final win emerges as a possibility, Troy’s becomes myopic in his quest for redemption & loses sight of what has already been achieved It takes Angie to reveal that ‘The Merger’ has already worked.

The Merger is in Australian cinemas from August 30. We urge everyone to go out and see.

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