“There was one rat who smashed me over the head with an iron bar in St. Kilda in late 1977. No wonder my memory is half shot to pieces with the blows I’ve taken to the head over the years.
Then prison officer Mick Millson smashed his baton over my head when Jimmy Loughnan and Johnny Price broke out of H Division in 1979 and climbed up on the A Division roof. Mick broke the baton over my head; he hit me between 15 to 20 times before it broke. I should thank him for it because after that, the headaches just stopped.”
Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read (1954 – 2013)
I’ve spoken about former Melbourne underworld identity, gang member and best selling author Chopper Read before (HERE)
And now its time to do it again.
This coming Sunday and Monday nights, Channel 9 is premiering the latest incarnation of the UNDERBELLY crime-drama series (there’s been six series so far, all based on true life events, the first of which aired back in 2008).
This time the focus is on notorious convicted criminal Mark ‘Chopper’ Read who grew up in the Melbourne suburbs of Collingwood and Fitzroy, spent the first five years of his life in a children’s home and by the age of 14 had been made a ward of the state. Between the ages of 20 and 38 Read spent only 13 months outside prison walls. Eric Bana launched his Hollywood career after playing Read in the 2000 film CHOPPER. (See the trailer HERE )
See Read‘s anti drink-driving commercial HERE
See Read‘s anti-domestic violence ad HERE
For the two part series UNDERBELLY FILES: CHOPPER former Neighbours actor Aaron Jeffrey has been recruited to play the sharp-witted standover man. While I’m looking forward to watching the series I must raise the question of whether the producers could have found an actor who bore a closer physical resemblance to the late real life Chopper.
While there’s no doubting the New Zealand born Jeffrey’s bona-fides as an actor – he played Thomas Logan in the film X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE as well as appearing in all 23 episodes of Foxtel‘s 2013- 2015 series WENTWORTH in addition to roles in two previous UNDERBELLY series, when a film or television series aspires to present a portrait of a real individual who has lived or is living, then part of the experience of believing what they are seeing for an audience includes how close the physical matchup of the actor playing the part is to the real-life person.
When I spoke back in August last year (HERE) of Channel 7’s miniseries BLUE MURDER: KILLER COP which portrayed the real-life events surrounding the life of corrupt former NSW police-detective Roger Rogerson, I made mention of how incredible the match was between the real-life Rogerson and the actor hired to play him in the series.
Hollywood as well has done a pretty stellar job over the years in casting actors who look like or are made to look like the real-life people they are playing –
And how ’bout the one with Leonardo DiCaprio?
I won’t let the fact actor Aaron Jeffrey isn’t a dead ringer for the real Chopper Read impact my enjoyment of the new UNDERBELLY series on Sunday and Monday nights. I’m confident Jeffrey will more than make up for what he may lack in the physical resemblance department by getting the mannerisms, speaking style and other nuances that go into creating a character down pat. And in Chopper‘s case that means acting crazier than a ride on public transport, everyone’s Uncle Bob and a zebra in a horserace all rolled into one.