April 6-7, 2024
Written by Tom G. Wolf
John Jarratt is a long-time fixture of the Australian cinema and TV screen. Active since the 1970s, he’s starred in numerous bona fide Australian classics like Picnic At Hanging Rock, Next Of Kin and We Of The Never Never. And these are just the tip of the iceberg in a career that has included stints on Inspector Morse and McLeod’s Daughters, not to mention countless others.
But to younger viewers – and many Supanova fans – he’s undoubtedly best known as the terrifying Mick Taylor, the key character of the Wolf Creek horror franchise – an Australian success story that now spans TV, film and novels.
It was a role that came as a bit of a surprise for many of his long-time fans. Just a few years prior, Jarratt was probably best known to Australians for his role on Better Homes & Gardens – a lifestyle TV series heavily favoured by the grey-hair set, which saw Jarratt more often digging up gardens than burying bodies.
Onscreen villain? Sure. Hardened serial killer? Surely that was a (self-built and decorated for the backyard) bridge too far!
But Jarratt and Wolf Creek delivered in spades. Loosely inspired by the real-life disappearance of British man Peter Falconio and infamous Backpacker Murders of Ivan Milat, the film was a grindhouse-style assault on the senses. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given its oft-extreme content, it turned into an instant hit both domestically and overseas. It’s now widely regarded as a classic of Australian cinema.
It also led to plenty of international work for Jarratt too, along with considerable acclaim from Hollywood royalty. With Quentin Tarantino naming Jarratt his “favourite Australian actor”, he was able to land a role in Django Unchained, which boosted his profile even further. He’s also fleshed out his already-considerable resume with plenty of other thriller and horror-based work, bringing his skills to a whole new audience in the process.
But it’s not all blood and guts for Jarratt. He’s continued to work across a variety of field in both TV and film, showcasing his diverse range to both new and old fans alike. Last year he was seen in the Star Wars-inspired short HERO, intended to raise awareness for talkaboutit.org, a charity focused on epilepsy awareness and treatment.
But horror fans needn’t worry – it seems that Mick Taylor is still close to Jarratt’s heart. With series two of the Wolf Creek TV series released in late 2017 and a third film currently in the works, it looks like there’s still plenty of fight left in the old villain yet.
You can catch John Jarratt at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming Melbourne (20–22 April) & Gold Coast (27-29 April).