Hoges reveals brutal truth about Crocodile Dundee
As he has done for most of his celebrated career, Paul Hogan has no trouble whatsoever in mercilessly taking the mickey out of himself in his new movie, The Very Excellent Mr Dundee.
Playing a (not very) fictionalised version of himself in his first lead film role in 11 years, Hogan careens from crisis to crisis as he prepares to accept a knighthood, with his good intentions misinterpreted and harmless mistakes blown out of all proportions.
"It was just fun to do a movie where no one is taking themselves too seriously and was just poking fun at the state of the world and rumours and stuff," Hogan said from his adopted home in Los Angeles, where he's been confined to quarters thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"I had no trouble getting starters."
Among the starters he and director Dean Murphy roped in were British Monty Python great John Cleese and American Saturday Night Live alumnus Chevy Chase - also playing slightly twisted versions of themselves - turning it into something like a United Nations
But no one is more in on the joke than Hogan himself.
In the film his character is pitched various absurd ideas for a belated Crocodile Dundee sequel - including one that features Will Smith as his son - and the real Hogan said he's knocked back at least seven offers from "legitimate studio-backed filmmakers", including a musical version, one with compatriot Chris Hemsworth as his son and another starring Margot Robbie as his daughter.
And in the film, as in real life, Hogan gently reminds the excited parties that for all of the groundbreaking success of Crocodile Dundee, which became the most successful Australian film ever on its release in 1986, the mostly forgotten third film in the franchise was a critical and commercial flop 15 years later.
"All the ones I have seen have lacked originality," he said of proposed sequels.
"They were other stories with Dundee stuck in them. So it's unlikely.
"The world showed me they had enough of Dundee - when I did 3 they stayed away in their millions."
But while the abject failure of Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles is played for laughs in The Very Excellent Mr Dundee, surely it stung the real Hogan at the time?
Not a bit, said Hogan.
Having known the blue-collar life as a rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then shooting to fame first in television comedy in Australia followed by the global success of Crocodile Dundee that earned him a Golden Globe, and Oscar nomination and shot at hosting the Academy Awards, he knew early on and made peace with the fact that he was probably never going to top it.
"It was all fun," he said.
"There was no pain in any of it. I have said this before, and it's true, the success we had with Dundee as a first timer was like going to the Olympics and rolling your jeans up and saying 'can I have a run in the hundred?' and then winning the gold medal. You know mentally you can't top that. So, I am a one-hit wonder but geez it was a mighty hit."
Ironically though, it was the global love for Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee, that kickstarted The Very Excellent Mr Dundee.
The quintessentially Aussie Outback hero had put Australia on the map to millions around the world and interest spiked again two years ago when an ad for Australian tourism screened at the Super Bowl, starring US comedian Danny McBride as Dundee's long-lost American son, and Hemsworth as his local guide.
The new film, Hogan's third collaboration with Murphy after Strange Bedfellows and Charlie and Boots, was originally going to be titled No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, but given that the Dundee name is far more recognisable that Hogan's own - as he will freely admit - it made sense to include it in the title.
"I remember it from so many years ago and it was quite a thing, quite a big deal," said Chase of the original film and its impact on the US.
"What bothered me about it was that nobody really knew anything about Australia before that. It's a really incredible place and country. People are kind of stupid in this country. I loved getting to go there."
Chase, also one of the biggest comedy stars of the 70s and 80s thanks to hits such as Caddyshack, Fletch and the Vacation films, relished the chance to visit Melbourne (subbing in for Los Angeles) to make the movie - and as a longtime Monty Python fan was also drawn to the fact that Cleese was already on board.
Cleese, a regular visitor to these shores who says he's often thought of moving here if it wasn't so far away, also didn't need much convincing to play a broke, borderline psychotic version of himself who has been reduced to driving an Uber to pay the bills.
"I feel more comfortable in Sydney and Melbourne than I do in London … and what's nice about people here is they just like being Australian and they don't want to be anywhere else," he said.
Of working with his fellow 80-year-old, Hogan, who he had long admired, Cleese joked: "Nightmare. He is crotchety. Can't remember his lines and he's not very funny. But you know I feel sorry for him because I know what happens to people at our age. So we are sad old creatures trying to scrape a few bob together. It's very sad really. It's very nice that he's in a position to offer me a role."
Hogan, who describes himself as a "reluctant native" of Los Angeles is desperate to return to Australia and said he misses the humour.
Having already suffered the ignominy of a television biopic starring Josh Lawson ("Josh was all right - he's a good kid - but the show itself was dreadful"), he's setting the record straight with an autobiography out later this year titled, The Tap Dancing Knife Thrower.
"When you read it, even I think 'what an extraordinary life - how lucky can one guy be?'," Hogan marvels.
"If it was a movie script, you'd screw your nose up at it. It just doesn't happen that way - how to succeed in business without really trying."
The Very Excellent Mr Dundee streams from today on Amazon Prime.
Originally published as Hoges reveals brutal truth about Crocodile Dundee