Recasting Classics: Newsfront

Cinema Australia Original Content:

By Matthew Eeles

A remake of Newsfront has been announced.

This modern retelling of Phillip Noyce’s 1978 classic will be directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, who will again team up with The Dressmaker costume designer Marion Boyce to bring the characters of Len Maguire, Frank Maguire, Amy Mackenzie, Chris Hewitt, Fay and Geoff to life.

With those characters originally played by Bill Hunter, Gerard Kennedy, Wendy Hughes, Chris Haywood, Angela Punch McGregor and Bryan Brown respectively, the search is now on to cast the new film.

Moorhouse’s Newsfront will be a direct remake of the original about the men and women of Cinetone who struggle to produce the weekly news reels for the movie going public in post-war Australia.

Newsfront is expected to hit Australian cinemas mid 2021.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, all of the above is fake news. It’s all hypothetical for a new feature we’re calling Recasting Classics. I often find myself watching a classic Australian film thinking about who I’d cast if that film was being remade today.

For what it’s worth, I’d hate to see Newfront remade. This feature serves as reminder of the past, an appreciation for the present and an exciting awareness for the future. 

So let’s have some fun, and please feel free to join in via the comments below.

Recasting Classics: Newsfront

Len Maguire
Originally played by Bill Hunter
Recast: Joel Edgerton

Up until his death in 2011, Bill Hunter was one of Australia’s greatest actors appearing in more than 60 films, including Newsfront which earned him an AFI Award for Best Actor. Hunter is one of the most important figures in the Australian film industry appearing in many of this country’s greatest films.
A highly-acclaimed actor, writer, director and producer, Joel Edgerton seems to be in complete control of his successful career which includes a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination for Loving and a Best Supporting Actor AACTA win for The Great Gatsby.
Edgerton is someone who doesn’t make a fuss and gets on with the job which would make him perfect to play Len Maguire.
Joel Edgerton will next be seen in David Michôd’s Australia / USA coproduction, The King.

Frank Maguire
Originally played by Gerard Kennedy
Recast: Eric Bana

Two-time Gold Logie award winner Gerard Kennedy is best known for his small screen roles in Australian TV shows like Homicide, Hunter and Division 4. Consistently performing in TV, Kennedy is also a successful big screen actor starring in films like Newsfront, The Lighthorsemen, Body Melt and William A. Graham’s New Zealand-shot Blood Crime with James Caan in 2002.
Eric Bana needs no introduction. The incredibly popular actor is adored by an entire generation for his early comedic turns as characters such as Poida and Ray Martin in 88 episodes of sketch series Full Frontal from 1993 – 1997.
Bana’s career skyrocketed following his brutal performance as Mark Reid in Andrew Dominik’s brilliant bio-pic Chopper which earned the actor roles working with some of the world’s best directors including Ridley Scott, Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg.
Bana’s rugged good looks and imposing on-screen presence paired with his charming sense of humour would be a fine suit for Frank Maguire.
Eric Bana recently wrapped on Robert Connolly’s The Dry which will be released later next year.

Amy Mackenzie
Originally played by Wendy Hughes
Recast: Geraldine Hakewill

The much-loved Wendy Hughes was a familiar face on Australian film and television with fan-favourite roles in Snowy River: The McGregor Saga and State Coroner. Hughes won three acting awards including an AFI award for Best Actress for Careful, He Might Hear You. Hughes was so respected by her peers that Bryan Brown invited the audience to honour her with a standing ovation during a Sydney Theatre Company performance of Travelling North following the news of Hughes’ death in 2014.
Since her first feature film role in Ben C. Lucas’ Perth-shot thriller Wasted on the Young, Geraldine Hakewill has become a household name since starring alongside Rebecca Gibney in the TV series Wanted and Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries with fellow WA actor Joel Jackson.
Proving she’s got the chops of a serious actor following her heartbreaking performance in The Pretend One, Hackwill oozes class, sophistication and range. This straight shooting, down-to-earth actor with a strong determination would own the role of Amy Mackenzie.
Geraldine Hackwill’s next feature film, Disclosure, is currently in post-production.

Chris Hewitt
Originally played by Chris Haywood
Recast: Khan Chittenden

Chris Hewitt is a treasure to Australian arts having helped build Sydney’s Nimrod Theatre Company, working as the artistic director of the Pro’s and Con’s Playhouse, establishing the drama service on Kiribati National Radio and is the Patron of the Friends of Waverley Library. Oh, and he also has a staggering 191 acting credits to his name including The Cars That Ate Paris, Breaker Morant, The Man from Snowy River and Love is Now.
Best known as Frank ‘The Little Gunman’ Green in Underbelly, Chittenden’s big break came via Cherie Nowlan’s Clubland alongside Emma Booth and an almost unrecognisable Rebecca Gibney.
Chittenden’s most recent performance in Heath Davis’ Book Week proves the youthful actor’s playful nature which would provide the character of Chris Hewitt with a cheeky charm.
Khan Chittenden can be seen in Book Week which is now streaming on Stan.

Originally played by Angela Punch McGregor
Recast: Sarah Snook

In 1980 film critic Pauline Kael described The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith as the ‘finest Australian film ever made’. And if you haven’t seen that film, you really should amend that immediately. Angela Punch McGregor’s stellar performance in Jimmie earned her an AFI Award for Best Actress, while at the same time winning Best Supporting Actress for her equally impressive performance as Fay in Newsfront.
When a cooked Sarah Snook fed a very young Angourie Rice ecstacy in These Final Hours we were all stunned by her frenetic performance, but her AACTA award winning role in The Spierig Brothers’ Predestination really made us sit up and take notice of the relative newcomer. Many highly acclaimed roles soon followed in productions such as The Dressmaker, A Beautiful Lie, The Secret River and Steve Jobs alongside Michael Fassbender.
Snook’s subtleness is often the genius in her performances, an acting quality she shares with McGregor which would make her an ideal fit for Fay.
Sarah Snook is currently starring in HBO drama series Succession alongside Brian Cox and Kieran Culkin.

Originally played by Bryan Brown
Recast: Ryan Corr

Bryan Brown has had such a long and enviable career that it’s no surprise he worked with most of Newsfront’s main cast members at least twice. In The Irishman, Brown starred alongside fellow Newsfront castmates Tony Barry and Gerard Kennedy, while enjoying screentime with Punch McGregor in The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. A few years before that Brown was in The Love Letter from Teralba Road with Bill Hunter, while a few years later he would star with Chris Haywood in Breaker Morant. Surprisingly, considering their extensive filmographies, Newsfront is the only film Brown would share a screen credit with the late, great Wendy Hughes.
Breaking teenage hearts in his first acting role as Matthew McDougal in The Sleepover Club when he was 14, Ryan Corr would go on to become one of Australia’s best contemporary actors with 14 feature film credits to his name this decade alone. Corr has a charismatic on-screen presence which sees him shine in comedies like Ali’s Wedding and Not Suitable for Children, but it’s his dramatic roles in films like Holding the Man and 1% which prove he’s a serious talent.
An edgy yet reserved performance from Corr would bring a new, modern dimension to the Geoff character. And hey, Bryan and Ryan already share the last four letters of their first name. 
Ryan Corr can next be seen in feature films Below with Anthony LaPaglia and High Ground with Simon Baker and Jack Thompson.

Newsfront is available across multiple streaming platforms. 

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