He's Steve Irwin: Crocodile Hunter. He's Steve Irwin: wildlife crusader. He's Steve Irwin: real-life action hero. But Steve Irwin: international spy?
Crikey! That's the absurd assumption that lands the world's favorite adventurer smack in the middle of an espionage incident that goes from the Aussie Outback all the way to the White House.
In the first big-screen Crocodile Hunter movie, a comedy-of-errors causes the CIA to suspect Steve and Terri Irwin in a case of high-security data theft. After a fallen U. S. Government spy satellite is traced to the croc-infested terrain of Far North Queensland, the CIA becomes convinced Steve and Terri are secret agents and have stolen the confidential contents.
Containing information so sensitive it could mean the end of the world as we know it, the satellite's black box must be found. So the CIA sends two of its most respected undercover operatives, Agent Bob Wheeler (Lachy Hulme) and Agent Vaughan Archer (Kenneth Ransom), Down Under to retrieve it.
Through the swamps, towering gums, and red dirt plains of the Australian bush, Wheeler and Archer tail the unsuspecting Irwins as they go about their current quest - to rescue and relocate a rogue crocodile being stalked by a feisty local cattle rancher, the widow Brozzie (Magda Szubanksi). But suddenly the Irwins discover there are others in the race to find that gorgeous 12-foot "saltie," and they think the two blokes following them are just about the most determined "poachers" Steve and Terri have ever seen. They've even got guns!
With the stakes now raised to risky new levels, Steve and Terri know these poachers will do anything to get their hands on their precious croc. And as the Irwins' routine rescue mission escalates into a dangerous pursuit, the course is set for an inevitable and explosive collision between The Crocodile Hunter, the CIA, and that cranky old widow Brozzie.
Starring Steve Irwin and Terri Irwin as themselves, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is a film by The Best Picture Show Company in association with Cheyenne Enterprises, distributed by MGM Pictures. Directed by John Stainton, the film's story is by Stainton and the screenplay by Holly Goldberg Sloan. The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course was produced by Arnold Rifkin, Judi Bailey and Stainton and also stars Magda Szubanksi, David Wenham, Lachy Hulme, Kenneth Ransom, Kate Beahan, Steve Bastoni, Steven Vidler and Aden Young. The director of photography is David Burr and the production designer is Jon Dowding.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Director/Writer/Producer John Stainton has long known Steve Irwin was destined for the big screen. As the man who took "The Crocodile Hunter" out of the tiny Australian Sunshine Coast town of Beerwah and into the homes of more than 200 million television viewers around the globe, Stainton always suspected his long-time friend and colleague's talent, personality, and skills were qualities the world's moviegoers would eagerly embrace.
But Steve's success has been built on his acknowledged reputation as a real-life action hero - his everyday exploits with the world's most ferocious animals deliver the most compelling reality TV on air. The question for Stainton was how to make that transition from small screen to big screen without compromising Steve's standing as a genuine and committed wildlife crusader.
"I didn't want to blast into the movies with a make-believe, shoot-em-up style of film," explains Stainton, who first wrote - and then discarded - a script for a Crocodile Hunter movie in the mid-1990s. "I felt we had to approach it carefully so that we kept Steve as himself. He shouldn't play another character. He shouldn't be acting. He had to do what he does in real life and he had to do the things he was comfortable with. I couldn't stretch Steve out of the realm of what Steve does best. "
After many years mulling over the idea, a concept struck Stainton during a flight from a documentary shoot in Africa in 1999. Stainton decided he'd film Steve in the way both were used to - that is, on a documentary quest in the Australian Outback. Yet parallel to the documentary there would be a separate plot with actors whose scenes impacted Steve's mission. Technically, he would shoot Steve's adventures on a traditional 1:85 screen ratio in hand-held documentary mode. He would then shoot the dramatic storyline in Super 35mm cinemascope range of 2:40. There would be a totally distinct differentiation between the two formats, so, quite simply, there would be a documentary within a movie.
"I never wanted Steve to enter the movie world. I always wanted him to stay within the smaller screen and never step out into the bigger screen because that was make-believe to me," says Stainton. "I think the audience will understand that there's the movie world, the make-believe world, and there's Steve's world, which is true, honest and just Steve. And Steve goes through the entire movie not knowing that the bigger movie box is there. He doesn't understand anything about what's going on, and that's terrific. "
Steve is the first to admit he knew little - in fact nothing -- of the script that would take him into cinemas around the world. On the few occasions an actor would enter Steve's world - the small screen documentary mode - Stainton would brief him about the scene just before shooting began, give him an idea of what he might say, and encourage him to ad lib as much as he wanted.
"I wasn't allowed to read the script and I couldn't go 'round rehearsing my lines," explains Steve. "What John Stainton wanted to capture from me is Stevo - just as raw as I've been since he pulled me out of the bush in the '80s. That's what he wanted. "
That Steve would take such a giant leap of faith as to go in to a major motion picture virtually blindfolded indicates the kind of working relationship he and Stainton share. "John and I are best friends, closest mates, and we've been working together for nearly 15 years," Steve says. "We're two blokes at the top of a very strong, very powerful team. My side of the fence is to go about conservation, rescue wildlife, and just be Stevo. John's side of the fence is the production. I couldn't be a producer. He couldn't jump on a crocodile. But together we're the strongest team. "
The strength of their partnership was recognized by producer Arnold Rifkin of Cheyenne Enterprises. Stainton and his Best Picture Show Company had already been sporadically filming the documentary segment of The Crocodile Hunter movie for about 12 months when Rifkin and partner Bruce Willis expressed interest in the project.
"When Bruce and I created Cheyenne, we wanted to make both big and small budget films that would have an impact and truly entertain people," says Rifkin. "That's the reason we pursued John Stainton and The Crocodile Hunter. We know the film will entertain a cross-section of the marketplace. Plus, it's the only project our children can't wait to see. We're proud to be associated with a film of this caliber. "
After Cheyenne came on board, MGM Pictures acquired worldwide distribution rights and principal photography began in Queensland, Australia, on November 26, 2001.
For Steve and his wife Terri, it was an entirely new world. Accustomed to minimal crew with everyone pitching in on tasks during documentary shoots in remote countries, the trappings of a major motion picture did have its advantages - though Steve shunned his air-conditioned trailer to pitch his own tent for camping out.
"It was exciting to have a trailer, to eat three times a day, to get make-up, to have a toilet!" says Terri of the days when the Irwins shot with the main cast and crew. "It was absolute luxury.
"On a documentary shoot," she continues, "we start filming from about five in the morning until midnight, seven days a week until the thing's done. We film in the most remote jungles, and one of us is always sick with a bug. I'm shoving granola bars in my pocket to keep me going and we're pulling leaches off between filming. It's fun but it's really grueling. This has been relatively easy. And to see a Winnebago with my name on it was really strange. "
This was also director/producer Stainton's first feature film, and he realized that to pull off his groundbreaking documentary-drama cross work, he'd need to recruit the finest cast and crew available. Along with a formidable production crew (some of whom had long been part of The Crocodile Hunter documentary making team), the project eventually assembled an astonishing array of A-list Australian actors to assume what, essentially, were supporting roles. Stainton was always clear on the distinction between the Irwins and the other roles.
"I wanted the CIA plot to be complex enough to keep Steve's world looking simplistic, and I wanted the other players in the movie to be like cardboard cut-out characters so the audience had no other focus but on Steve and Terri," says Stainton. "I think it works. The tests show an overwhelming support of Steve and Terri as the outstanding players in the story. "
That considered, how was Stainton able to recruit such big-name Australian talent to the movie?
"We had a great casting agent, Alison Barrett, who did a great job in getting people on board who may in the beginning have thought the roles were small," says Stainton. "But they all got behind the film and they all actually embraced the message the film has about wildlife conservation. "
Heading the supporting cast is Magda Szubanksi, one of Australia's best-loved comic actresses and well-known internationally for her portrayal of Mrs. Hoggett in the hit family films Babe and Babe: Pig in the City. As Brozzie, the gun-totin', widowed cattle rancher hell-bent on revenge, Szubanksi is the perfect choice - which is unsurprising since Stainton created the character with her in mind.
"As soon as I read the script I loved it," says Szubanksi. "I thought 'great character. ' She's a bit naughty, a bit cheeky. She tries to get away with what she can. I have a lot of affection for her. And you always know people like that - tough on the outside and soft on the inside. "
Subanski, an old hand at working with animals through the Babe films and her Australian TV series Dogwoman, was also eager to work with Steve Irwin. "I think he's fascinating and really smart," she says. "I've done a bit of stuff around animals now and I just find I love it. I find animal behavior fascinating and I like people who like animals. And Steve loves animals - even the really challenging ones. "
Squaring off against Brozzie is Sam Flynn, the Australian Fauna and Fisheries Department ranger played by multi-award-winning Sydney actor David Wenham. Wenham says his attraction to the film was threefold.
"First, the script was a very, very funny, commercial script which certainly appealed to me," he says. "Second and equally as important was the opportunity to appear in a film with the Crocodile Hunter, somebody who's achieved legendary status around the world and somebody who, I must say, is an extremely enigmatic and funny character up there on the screen. I think Steve Irwin is amazing. And third, it was the chance to work with one of Australia's greatest comedic talents, Magda Szubanski, a very, very funny lady. "
Contrasting sharply with the folks of the Aussie Outback are the two CIA agents sent from Washington to track down Steve and Terri Irwin.
Melbourne actor Lachy Hulme was fresh from writing and starring in the comedy film Let's Get Skase and in the middle of filming the sequels to The Matrix when he headed to Queensland to play Agent Bob Wheeler. He had actively campaigned for the part, having been struck by the "fun and clever script" and knowing that with Steve Irwin involved any animal scenes would be "the real deal. "
A voracious reader with a passion for American secret service history, intrigue, and conspiracy theories, Hulme says he sees Wheeler as a throwback to the '60s. "Wheeler is reserved but, I hate to say it, he's not the brightest guy in the world," says Hulme. "He often doesn't think things through, but he's incredibly determined and he just will not stop. His whole drive is to complete the mission by any means, and if that involves truck chases, getting dragged behind trucks, taking on snakes, taking on Steve Irwin with his bare knuckles, shooting guns at low-flying planes, racing around rivers in boats - it doesn't matter. As long as he gets the job done. But in the end he learns a very harsh reality about going up against Steve and Terri Irwin. The purpose he serves is to say to the audience: 'Don't muck around with Steve and Terri. '"
Wheeler's partner in the mission is Agent Vaughan Archer, played by relative screen newcomer but highly regarded Melbourne stage actor Kenneth Ransom. "Wheeler and Archer are like the heavies, in a way," says Ransom, a Californian who has lived in Australia for six years. "We're the antiheroes opposite Steve. But of the two of them, I'm the nicer one. The likeable one. The good cop. "
Bringing together Steve and Terri Irwin (with their inimitable style of filmmaking) and such a fine cast of professional actors could have been a trying experience. But Stainton says everything meshed very smoothly.
"A couple of the actors had to do scenes with Steve, and it was probably a little daunting because Steve isn't an actor," says Stainton. "So he doesn't hit marks like they do and he ad libs and he'll say what he wants to say about the snake or the crocodile or whatever. So for an actor to come into his world was like throwing somebody into the fire. They had to improvise a little bit, but they coped with it very well. "
On the other hand, Steve had no worries about the stunt work he was called upon to do. Falling out of trees, standing on the top of moving trucks, taking choreographed punches - he took it all on with gusto. "It was a stack of fun, and the stunt crew was very strict and careful. They planned and schemed and plotted for weeks," Steve says.
"They grilled me on how much climbing I'd done, checking me out to see if I was a risk. But I'm in the vertical rescue team for the State Emergency Service. I climb trees to cut koala leaf virtually every other day. The Glasshouse Mountains? I grew up on 'em. My mum always used to say, 'If you can't find him down, look up. ' So climbing a truck at 80 kilometers per hour was no problem. "
Capturing all this action on camera and charged with realizing Stainton's unusual double vision was director of photography David Burr, whose credits include other action hero-styled films such as Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles and The Phantom.
"John and I decided to use one camera system and create the two formats in post-production," explains Burr. "We had marks on the camera and on the monitors to show us where each of the formats ended. In the end, I feel we got a good contrast between the hand-held documentary action and the traditional camera work of the movie scenes. "
Contrast is a word that could also be applied to the tasks facing production designer Jon Dowding. His creative brief was wide-ranging and the demand for settings diverse: dusty dry roads of north Queensland; the gleaming marble foyer of the CIA headquarters; a dimly-lit desert-based work station at Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex; the White House's very famous Oval Office; and a rundown, rambling country homestead and barn on the top of a scenic Australian ridge - and that was just the start of Dowding's challenge.
"Collision Course had some excellent challenges for the art department," says Dowding, whose previous credits include the classic Australian road movie Mad Max. "Recreating the Space Tracking Centre - with its dozens of interlinked computer images and codes from outer space and their own computer generation version of the 'disaster' - was a multi-faceted design exercise. This work all interfaced with the equally giant CIA Operations Room set, combining dark monochrome and vivid projections. It was particularly entertaining when Steve and Terri's publicity shots appeared in this stark, male, secretive environment. We had decided to make the CIA environment harsh with reflective surfaces and little or no real personality - just technology and the bare necessities of office. So there's a distinct color difference going from those scenes, the intrigue of dark night time, which actually feels very sinister, to the red desert of Australia, with Steve mucking around with the animals. "
Although the Australian bush action is generally set in the far north of the state of Queensland, all the locations used during principal photography were in the southeast corner of the State, no more than three hours' drive from the bustling capital city of Brisbane. They were regions John Stainton knew from his years of weekend leisure horse riding and were quickly adapted to resemble the more remote settings for which they were standing in.
"They are absolutely brilliant locations," says Dowding, who reveals some last minute alterations were warranted when unseasonal rains turned one previously arid area a lush green just prior to shooting. Apart from creating such well-recognized American icons as the Oval Office within Brisbane's City Hall, one of the greater challenges Dowding faced was to create Brozzie's ramshackle barn, which had to be built from scratch in order to meets its demise in a very spectacular way.
"After eight weeks searching, we knew we would never find Brozzie's ranch in a shootable form for real," he says. "So we had the immense joy of picking a barren ridge from which we could see no other habitation. We created a 120-year-old ranch interior and exterior from scratch, with all of Brozzie's eccentricities, in eight weeks.
"The barn comes complete with chickens, old trucks, a broken tractor and some incredibly dangerous electrical work, which we made a feature of because it's a barn built to be blown up. That worked very successfully. It's one of the best explosions I've seen in a long time and, absolutely one of my favorite sets ever. "
Stunt director Chris Anderson oversaw the multitude of stunts, which included that explosion, a spectacular ultralight aircraft crash and a high-speed boat flip. But it was the scuffle between Steve Irwin and Lachy Hulme's CIA Agent Wheeler on top of an overturned boat on top of a moving truck that was most challenging. "That was probably one of the harder ones because of the terrain," says Anderson. "It was very difficult. "
Overall, Stainton was thrilled with the way The Crocodile Hunter movie came together - documentary specialists, seasoned film makers, conservationists and acclaimed actors all banding together to create a movie that will definitely be one-of-a-kind, setting a new style of movie production.
"We had a lot of fun with it, an awful lot of fun," says Stainton. "I think that shows on screen. "
TALK WITH THE ANIMALS - STEVE AND TERRI ON SPREADING THE WORD
During lunch breaks on set, it was obvious to all how genuine Steve Irwin's passion is for living creatures. While hungry cast and crew tucked into the buffet, Steve was regularly seen grabbing the hand of his little daughter Bindi Sue to set off on a wildlife search through the bush. Ants that pierce humans flesh, spiders that scurried from beneath rocks - these were just some of the finds Steve, Bindi-Sue and Terri delighted in during location shoots of The Crocodile Hunter's first movie.
It's this fascination with the animal world that Steve and Terri hope will rub off on moviegoers. In particular they want their first feature film's conservation theme to be embraced.
"This is going to be the greatest conservation message the world has seen," says Steve. In the movie, Steve mistakes two undercover CIA agents for crocodile poachers. In everyday life, he knows well the impact poachers have. "In some places in Australia there is a large trade because crocodile skins are worth money," says Steve, "and that's something Terri and I fight vehemently to stop. I say there's no difference between skinning a crocodile and skinning a koala. They're native Australian wildlife and should be protected, not worn as some kind of garment. "
Terri gets equally as worked-up about the topic and believes Steve's message is getting across, thanks to the success of their documentaries. "If people can find love and sympathy and empathy and compassion for a crocodile, then we've got hope for saving just about anything. That's the object of the game. Over the years, Steve's gotten the feedback that the only good snake is a dead snake. Now we're finding people are responding with love for vultures as well as eagles, crocodiles as well as koalas, and the whole planet is really changing. "
"Absolutely," agrees Steve. "We're very proud to see a global push towards conservation. "
With Steve brought up by his parents, Bob and Lyn Irwin, to respect all types of wildlife, he's also proud that there's a third generation of the family ready to take up the tradition.
"We're wildlife warriors and we're training our daughter to be a wildlife warrior," says Steve. "Like any warrior, our job is to get out there and fight - for wildlife. "
NEVER WORK WITH ANIMALS - UNLESS YOU'RE STEVE OR TERRI IRWIN
The condition that animals won't be harmed by his actions is always a prerequisite when Steve is filming his on-the-run documentaries. For camera operators on those shoots, it's a case of "get the first take or you've missed it. " But the need to protect animals from distress loomed even larger during filming of the movie, when creatures such as kangaroos, spiders and snakes were taken on set for what could sometimes be multiple takes. That's why Steve was involved in every scene that involved the use of Australian wildlife. He was there to protect both the animals and humans.
"There's a scene where Brozzie lands on a 12 foot crocodile," says Steve. "That's me. I'm the only guy who can fall on a 12 foot crocodile so I got dressed up as her to do the scene. "
Other crucial scenes that were carefully monitored by Steve included a rather scary one involving his wife Terri. In this, a bird-eating spider, whose venom is extremely toxic to humans, crawls up Terri's leg as she is driving the Irwins' truck. "She only had a set of khakis between her and those fangs," Steve recalls. "They've got pretty big fangs which could certainly penetrate through the material, so I was watching the spider closely to see it wasn't going to drive its fangs through the khakis and hook into Terri's leg. So when I was happy it was going to do what we wanted and Terri was happy and the spider was happy - bang! We did it! It may look really risky, but in essence there's no risk because we understand the posturing of the spider. When you see it on the screen you will be interested to know it's Terri's leg. "
It was a similar situation when Steve had to dangle the deadly king brown snake in front of Lachy Hulme's character, Wheeler. "When I was doing the king brown snake," says Steve, "it opened its mouth and it swung past me, and that was my cue. I saw that snake was starting to get stressed. He was getting aggressive enough to bite. So it was time to put him in a bag and take him away. He'd had enough. " So while that meant delaying the scene, everyone accepted it as unavoidable. Everyone from the director down understood this sort of situation would arise from time to time.
"It's a real honor to be working with someone who'll lay his life on the line to defend wildlife," says Terri. "I think it's very exciting to take that kind of flavor into the movies. It's very exciting and very real. "
SCALES, FANGS AND FUR - A GLOSSARY OF ANIMALS IN THE FILM
CROCODILE: (Australian Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodile) "Salties" are the largest reptiles on earth and have remained largely unchanged over 60 million years. They usually live in coastal river systems, but have been found over 125 miles inland and over 125 miles out to sea. They live in fresh and saltwater, but prefer dark, dirty water where they can hide just below the surface, sense the vibrations of an approaching animal and launch out of the water to ambush. Salties will eat almost any animal species, from kangaroos and wallabies to birds and fish, as well as feral animals such as pigs, dogs, cows and buffalo.
PERENTIE: The Perentie, commonly referred to as a Goanna in Australia, is the country's largest lizard and the third largest in the world. It grows to over 6 ˝ feet in length. A member of the monitor lizards species, which include Komodo Dragons, the Perentie is a desert dweller that lives in the caves of the rocky outcrops of central Australia.
The Perentie is carnivorous, feeding primarily on carrion - prey that is already dead - and swallows down chunks of meat and bone whole.
The Perentie's colouring of sandy yellow and black is perfect camouflage against its escarpment background. It has long sharp claws and rows of razor-sharp teeth, and its long forked tongue is the sensory means by which it locates food and senses danger.
FIERCE SNAKE: One bite from the world's most venomous snake can kill more than 100 adult men or 10,000 mice. The Fierce Snake is not regarded as an aggressive snake - possibly because it rarely comes into contact with humans. They inhabit a small area of land in far western Queensland known as the black soil plains, where they live in a network of narrow tunnels just beneath the dry, cracked surface.
They feed on rodents, which often reach plague proportions in the area. Fierce snakes come to the surface to warm their bodies for only a few hours each morning. They have a black head and a golden brown body that aids in catching as much of the sun's warmth as possible.
KANGAROO/JOEYS: The Eastern Grey Kangaroo belongs to a unique group of Australian Mammals called marsupials - animals that carry their young in a pouch. Kangaroos also belong to a specialized group of marsupials called macropods, which means 'large foot. '
The live-born young crawl from the womb opening into the pouch and attach themselves to a nipple. They will remain in the pouch for up to a year - gradually becoming more confident and independent as they grow. When venturing out of the pouch, a young kangaroo or joey stays close to its mother and literally dives headfirst into the pouch at the first sign of danger. The mother will bound off at full speed with the joey safely in her pouch. Male kangaroos will often fight during the mating season by scratching with their sharp claws and kicking with their powerful legs while leaning on their tails.
BIRD EATING SPIDER: The Bird Eating Spider is one of Australia's largest spiders and its venom is highly toxic to humans. It is also known as the Barking Spider or Whistling Spider.
The barking or whistling sound it makes is a warning when the spider is disturbed and is made by rubbing its palps with its fangs. A mature female spider has a body reaching a length of 2˝ inches. The male is slightly smaller and slimmer than the female.
These spiders live under logs or in burrows 2 inches wide and 2 feet deep, which they line with silk. Bird Eating Spiders kill their prey by pouncing on it and injecting venom with their fangs, which can grow up to 1/3 inch in length. With no teeth, they rely on digestive juices to dissolve their food - scales and bone included - so there is little left of their prey when they have finished feeding. The female lives up to 10 years or longer but the male usually dies after mating.
KING BROWN SNAKE: The king brown (or mulga) snake is found in all arid parts of Australia, and has the greatest venom output of any snake. It has a strongly defined dark crosshatched pattern on its scales, and is more closely related to the black snakes than the brown. Found throughout most of Australia, except Victoria, Tasmania and the most southern parts of Western Australia, it feeds on rats, mice, birds, lizards and other snakes. It is frequently active at night, especially in hot weather.
The king brown is heavily built and, as the heaviest Australian venomous snake, can survive the bite of other venomous snakes. The average length is around 5 feet, but up to 10 feet has been recorded. The King Brown Snake may become aggressive and strike repeatedly if threatened.
ABOUT THE CAST
STEVE IRWIN is the best-known wildlife crusader in the world today. As The Crocodile Hunter, Steve has become a household name, with his television adventures seen by more than 200 million viewers around the globe. His Australia Zoo wildlife reserve at Beerwah, on Australia's Sunshine Coast, welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. He has appeared as himself alongside Eddie Murphy in the film Doctor Dolittle 2, is a sought-after and frequent guest on television talk shows such as Larry King Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Rosie O'Donnell Show, and has a talking doll based on him. Despite his high international profile, Steve's commitment to wildlife remains paramount. His passion to protect the world's fiercest creatures can be traced back to parents, conservationists and animal lovers Bob and Lyn Irwin, the founders of Australia Zoo. As a young boy, Steve helped Bob rescue and relocate crocodiles in the rivers of North Queensland, and the father and son team's proud boast is that the 100 crocodiles in Australia Zoo were either caught by them or bred and raised in the park.
In his 20s, Steve volunteered his services to the Queensland Government's rogue crocodile relocation program, living alone for years in the mosquito-infested creeks, rivers and mangroves of North Queensland, catching huge troublesome crocodiles single-handedly and achieving a staggeringly successful catch rate.
In 1992, Steve and his friend, television producer John Stainton, created a distinctive new style of wildlife documentary. That one-hour program, The Crocodile Hunter, featured Steve, his new wife, American wildlife carer Terri Raines, and the animals of Far North Queensland. With the combination of Steve's larrikin charm, unconventional style and extraordinary daring, Terri's wit and composure in dangerous situations, and their amazingly close encounters with such potentially-deadly creatures as crocodiles, venomous snakes and spiders, The Crocodile Hunter became a worldwide hit.
In addition to The Crocodile Hunter series, Steve and Terri have filmed 52 episodes of the Emmy-Award nominated Croc Files, various one-off specials, and an intimate new series The Crocodile Hunter Diaries, a behind-the-scenes look at Steve's daily life at Australia Zoo.
Steve's next projects will be Steve Irwin's Ghosts of War, a two part miniseries based on the Pacific Conflict of World War II, and an animated series.
Steve and Terri Irwin are based on the Sunshine Coast, where they live with their daughter Bindi Sue and their dog Sui.
It seems TERRI IRWIN was destined to end up where she is today - travelling the world spreading a wildlife conservation message with her husband, Steve.
Born Terri Raines in the small town of Eugene, Oregon, in the USA, the young Terri saw early the impact humans could have on native fauna. Her father, a construction and trucking business owner, would regularly bring home and tend animals injured on the state's highways, and his youngest daughter was always there to help.
In her early 20s while still working in the family business, Terri started a rehab facility, Cougar Country, to re-educate and release predatory mammals such as raccoons, bears, bob-cats and cougars, back into the wild. At its peak, Cougar Country was handling up to 300 animals a year. She also increased her commitment to the animal world by joining an emergency veterinary hospital as a vet technician, hoping to learn more about the care and support of other types of animals.
In 1991, while on a working holiday in Australia to examine rehabilitation work at the country's wildlife parks, Terri made an unscheduled visit to the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park (now Australia Zoo). That day would seal her future. There she met Steve Irwin, the young man doing the crocodile demonstration at the park, and within four months they were engaged.
Terri Raines and Steve Irwin married in June 1992, and during their honeymoon in Far North Queensland they filmed the first The Crocodile Hunter documentary. The honeymoon also marked the first time that Terri, under her husband's watchful eye, launched herself on a crocodile's head to assist in a capture.
Since then Terri has been Steve's impressive and capable partner through 52 more episodes of The Crocodile Hunter, 52 episodes of the children's series Croc Files, five additional one hour specials, and 26 episodes of The Crocodile Hunter Diaries. Terri took some time out in 1998 to give birth to the Irwin's daughter, Bindi Sue.
MAGDA SZUBANKSI (Brozzie Drewett) is one of Australia's best-loved and most versatile comedy performers. Recognized internationally for her portrayal of Mrs. Hoggett, one of the few human characters in the animated films Babe and Babe: Pig in the City, Szubanski was also integral to the success of several of Australia's landmark television comedy programs of the '80s and '90s.
In 1985, along with friends from Melbourne University's revues, she created and starred in The D-Generation - a cult sketch comedy show that aired for three seasons on the ABC, Australia's highly-regarded public broadcaster. She was also part of the writing and performing team that created the Seven Network's weekly sketch comedy series Fast Forward, a smash-hit that would become the highest rated comedy program in the country's television history and which would earn her numerous awards for comedy performance at both The Logies (Australia's version of the Emmys) and The People's Choice.
In 1995, the series Big Girl's Blouse, which Szubanski and Fast Forward friends Gina Riley and Jane Turner wrote, produced and appeared in, won an Australian Writer's Guild Award for Best Comedy. Szubanski's other sketch comedy credits include Something Stupid for the Seven Network and the 2002 ABC series Kath and Kim.
In 2000, Szubanski created, co-produced and starred Dog Woman. Szubanski wrote the first episode of this murder mystery series, which received 2000 Logie Award nominations for best telemovie or miniseries and best screenplay.
Over the years, Szubanski has appeared in a variety of stage and television shows, including a performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and roles in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice for the Sydney Theatre Company, A Royal Commission into the Australian Economy for Belvoir Street, and Bligh, a sitcom set in colonial Australia.
DAVID WENHAM (Sam Flynn) is critically acclaimed in Australia for his diverse performances in film, theatre and television.
A five-time nominee for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, Wenham won the honor in 1997 for his role in the television drama series Simone De Beauvoir's Babies.
He is best-known (and best-loved) in Australia as Diver Dan, the laconic fisherman in ABC TV's comedy-drama series Seachange, a role which earned Wenham one of his AFI nominations. He was again nominated for an AFI for his menacing portrayal of criminal Brett Sprague in the feature film The Boys - a part he first played on stage in the Griffin Street Theatre Company production. Wenham, who also received a Film Critics' Circle of Australian Best Lead Actor nomination for The Boys, was associate producer on the film.
Wenham's other nominated film credits include the techno-thriller The Bank and the relationships comedy Better Than Sex. He has also appeared in Moulin Rouge, Russian Doll, Idiot Box, A Little Bit of Soul and Cosi, and will be seen in 2002 in Dust and as Faramir in the second and third films in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He also appeared in the feature film Damien (Director Paul Cox) in the role of Father Damien and has just completed the UK feature Pure under the direction of Gillies McKinnon.
His stage credits include Art (with Tom Conti) and Tartuffe for the Sydney Theatre Company; Hamlet, The Tempest, Cosi and The Headbutt for the Belvoir Street Theatre; and That Eye the Sky for Burning House.
Melbourne actor/writer LACHY HULME (Agent Bob Wheeler) will soon be seen internationally as Sparks in the Wachowski Brothers' highly-anticipated sequels to the sci-fi hit The Matrix. Hulme's background is in theatre, and he has appeared in such productions as The Rover, Bonfire Downside, All Men are Whores: An Inquiry and Sexual Perversity in Chicago. He is also an award-winning Theatresports performer.
Hulme's first foray into film was playing Carl Porter in Matthew George's cult black thriller Four Jacks, which earned him Best Actor Award at the 2001 Melbourne Underground Film Festival. Hulme teamed up with George again in 2000, this time to write the action comedy Let's Get Skase. In that film, Hulme starred as anti-hero Peter Dellasandro, the real-life opportunist whose attempts to kidnap an exiled Australian entrepreneur inspired the tale.
Canadian-born, Australian-raised ADEN YOUNG (Ron Buckwhiler) first appeared on the big screen in Bruce Beresford's Black Robe. In 1995 he won the Australian Film Critics Association Best Actor award and was also nominated for the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award's Best Leading Actor for his portrayal of the psychotic Joe in Geoffrey Wright's Metal Skin. He was again nominated for the AFI Best Actor Award for the Australian film River Street.
Young's other film credits include Cousin Bette with Bob Hoskins and Elisabeth Shue, Under Heaven with Joely Richardson, Bruce Beresford's Paradise Road, Simon Cox's Father Damien, the Australian comedies Cosi, Hotel de Love and Love in Limbo and the period inter-racial love story Serenades.
KENNETH RANSOM (Agent Vaughan Archer) is widely known in Australia as Bradley in Network Ten's hip youth drama The Secret Life of Us. Prior to his television breakthrough, Ransom appeared in Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, as Phil, the set dresser. Other recent credits include the American MOWs Attack on the Queen, Code 1114 and Border Patrol.
Ransom began his career in the United States playing Bobby Carver, a performing political dissident, in the television series Fame. He went on to play a suicidal basketball player in Hotel with James Brolin, and two different soldiers of destiny in the long-running series China Beach. Other American television credits include Equal Justice, A Different World, and A Prison for Children.
Ransom's feature film debut was in the '60s coming of age drama, There Goes My Baby, which also starred Noah Wyle and Rick Schroeder. Other feature film credits include Tough Guys, Dead End and Forever Young. Since settling in Australia in 1996, Ransom has appeared in many American television productions, most notably Flipper 3, Beastmaster, and The Lost World.
KATE BEAHAN (Jo Buckley) first piqued the interest of the Australian movie-going public in 1999 when she starred opposite Eric Bana in Chopper, the controversial feature film based on the life of notorious criminal Mark "Chopper" Read. Since then Beahan has appeared in Lost Souls and Matrix 2.
In 2001, Beahan starred as pivotal character Albee in ABC TV's acclaimed urban youth television drama series Love is a Four Letter Word. She will soon be seen in Farscape, the new Southern Star series Outriders and the Roadshow MOW On the Rails. Her theatre credits include Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Ophelia in Hamlet, Miranda in The Tempest and Alice in Alice in Wonderland.
One of Australia's most versatile actors, STEVE BASTONI (Deputy Director Reynolds) has a string of film and television credits to his name, including the Golden Globe-nominated On The Beach. He became a household name in Australia playing Angel in the ABC television series Police Rescue and was critically acclaimed for his role of Michael Drury in the award-winning and controversial true-life police drama Blue Murder.
Italian-born Bastoni's film appearances include South Pacific (with Glenn Close and Harry Connick Jr. ), Francis Ford Coppola's 1999 adaptation of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (with Adam Baldwin), and the highly-regarded Australan films Lighthorsemen, Heartbreak Kid and He died with a falafel in his hand, which also starred Noah Taylor.
His much-lauded performance as Alfredo in Maurice Murphy's award-winning feature film 15 Amore earned him a Best Actor in a Feature Film nomination at the 2000 AFI Awards, and a Film Critics Circle Nomination in the same category. In the same year, Bastoni was honored with a place in the Urban Cinefile Hall of Fame for his contribution to Australian Cinema.
Bastoni will soon be seen internationally in The Matrix Reloaded and on stage in Australia as the menacing Bill Sykes in Oliver!, which is being directed by Academy Award®-winner Sam Mendes.
Since graduating from Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1983, STEVEN VIDLER (Harley Ansell) has established himself as one of the most recognizable faces in the country's film, theatre and television industries, with his versatility evident in his extensive list of credits as a performer, writer and director.
Vidler's film roles include The Thin Red Line, Two Hands (with Heath Ledger), No Worries, Umbrella Woman and the voices of Snake and Turtle in Napoleon. On television, he has appeared in the series Hallifax fp, for which he received the 1995 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama, The Lost World, Territorians, The Man from Snowy River, Police Rescue and many more.
Theatre credits include Belvoir Street Theatre Company's Hamlet and Sydney Theatre Company's national tour of Lost in Yonkers. As a writer, Vidler received an AFI nomination for Best Screenplay for his short film Hell Texas and Home. As a director, his feature Blackrock was nominated for an AFI Best Film Award.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Over more than 30 years in the Australian film and television industry, JOHN STAINTON (Producer/Director) has made his name as a talented and versatile maker of documentaries, variety programs, comedy series, specials, chat shows and commercials. In 1976 he won the country's prestigious Penguin Award for Best Documentary for his Sahara Desert-based film Journey to a Legend. Throughout his career, Stainton has produced and/or directed programs for all three commercial television networks in Australia and has worked on literally thousands of television commercials.
In the mid-1980s Stainton formed The Best Picture Show Company with colleague Judi Bailey, and during a 1990 commercial shoot for a local brand of beer at the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park (now Australia Zoo), he was struck by the on-screen potential of his friend and wildlife park owner Steve Irwin. In 1992, Stainton launched Steve and Terri Irwin onto Australian television with an ambitious and groundbreaking documentary called The Crocodile Hunter. Since then, Stainton has produced and directed all of Steve Irwin's television series, including 53 episodes of The Crocodile Hunter, 52 episodes of the Emmy Award-nominated Croc Files, four one-hour specials for NBC and one special for the Travel Channel. The Crocodile Hunter and Croc Files are watched by hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide.
Stainton also directed Steve's award-winning and acclaimed FedEx commercial, which aired on US television in 2000, and the new 26-episode series The Crocodile Hunter Diaries, a behind-the-scenes look at Steve's daily life at Australia Zoo, which premiered on Animal Planet in January 2002. In 2002 his Steve Irwin's Ghosts of War, a two-part miniseries based on the Pacific Conflict of World War II, will premiere. The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is Stainton's first feature film.
HOLLY GOLDBERG SLOAN (Writer) is a multitalented screenwriter, producer and director for both feature films and television. Her feature writing credits include Old, Ladies Man, Whispers: An Elephant's Tale (shared credit), The Secret Life of Girls (also directed), The Big Green (also directed), Angels in the Outfield (shared credit, also served as associate producer), and Made in America (story and screenplay). She served as associate producer on Maid to Order. On television, Holly's writing credits include Angels in the Infield (shared credit, also co-produced) and Indecency (shared credit, also co-produced). She also directed the main title design for Nickelodeon's All That.
ARNOLD RIFKIN (Producer) is co-founder, along with Bruce Willis, of Cheyenne Enterprises, LLC, a company based in Los Angeles, California, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, focusing on the entertainment business, film, and television production. Cheyenne Enterprises has a feature film deal at Revolution Studios, a three-year deal with 20th Century Fox Television, and a long-form (MOW and mini-series) deal with Hearst Entertainment.
Before launching Cheyenne Enterprises, Rifkin was a talent agent for more than 20 years. He started his career at Rifkin-David and was a founding partner of the incredibly successful Triad Artists. In 1992, Triad Artists was acquired by the William Morris Agency and Rifkin was named worldwide head of the Motion Picture Department. In 1996 he became president of the agency and remained at William Morris until September 1999, when he founded Cheyenne with his former client of 17 years, Bruce Willis. At Cheyenne, Rifkin produced Bandits, Hart's War and has several upcoming projects, including a film based on the Stephen King story Bag of Bones.
Rifkin sits on the Board of Directors at the American Cinematheque, the Board of Councilors at the USC School of Cinema-Television, and is a director of the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation. He is a co-chair of and teaches a course for the producers program at the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television, and also holds a summer graduate course. During his tenure at the William Morris Agency, he created an internship program for Harvard MBA students and has lectured at Harvard's School of Business.
Originally from New York and educated at the University of Cincinnati, Rifkin resides in both Los Angeles and Jackson Hole with his wife Rita and their three children.
In the late 1990s, JUDI BAILEY (Producer) was named Australian Advertising Person of the Year - an honor that recognized her talent and more than 25 years of dedication to the industry. She had started out with one of the country's most successful agencies in the 1970s and went on to produce commercials for many countries throughout the world.
After choosing to settle in Queensland in the mid 1980s, Bailey produced several commercials with director John Stainton. The pair soon set up the internationally respected production house, The Best Picture Show Company, specializing in television commercials, specials and documentaries.
Over the past 16 years, The Best Picture Show Company has produced television specials, television series and hundreds of commercials. Bailey is an executive producer on Steve Irwin's hit series, The Crocodile Hunter, Croc Files and The Crocodile Hunter Diaries, along with various specials. The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is Bailey's first feature film.
DAVID BURR's (Director of Photography) cinematography credits for the big screen include Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, Breathe, Komodo, Paperback Hero, Joey, Wild America, The Phantom, Race the Sun, and Those Dear Departed. For television he served as director of photography for Jumping Ship, The Linda McCartney Story, Flash, Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery, and Escape: Human Cargo.
In David's early years in the business, he served as focus puller on such films as Gallipoli and Breaker Morant. He served as camera operator on such films as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and The Mosquito Coast and served as second unit director of photography on Till There Was You and Beyond Rangoon.
JON DOWDING (Production Designer) is one of Australia's most experienced and talented production designers, with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. His credits include George Miller's landmark Australian fantasy Mad Max, for which he received an Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award nomination; The Blue Lagoon, and its sequel Return to the Blue Lagoon; Gross Misconduct, starring Jimmy Smits and Naomi Watts; and Road Games, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacey Keach. Recent work includes the Disney MOW A Ring of Endless Light; the Australian romantic comedy Paperback Hero, starring Hugh Jackman; and Amy, starring Rachel Griffith. Jon also received AFI Award nominations for his work on the films Georgia (1988) and Frog Dreaming (1984).
In his 25 years as an editor, SURESH AYYAR (Editor) has been nominated for the Australian Film Institute's Best Achievement in Editing Award on nine occasions, winning four times and in 1995 receiving both Feature and Non-Feature categories awards.
His television credits include the series Beastmaster and Farscape and the recent Australian movie of the week The Road from Coorain. He has edited documentaries including the Emmy Award-winning Kangaroos: Faces in the Mob and Gillian Armstrong's Not 14 Again, which won the Australian Film Institute's Best Documentary.
Feature Film credits include The Wog Boy, Bad Boy Bubby (Grand Jury prize-winner of Venice Film Festival) and The Interview (AFI Best Film Award).
BOB BLASDALL (Editor) is a valued member of the Crocodile Hunter 'family. ' An editor, director and producer of more than 150 drama and documentary programs over more than 30 years in the Australian film and TV industry, Blasdall has been integral to post-production on every Steve Irwin project since the first Crocodile Hunter documentary in 1992. Bob has edited, or been supervising editor, on 53 episodes of The Crocodile Hunter, 52 episodes of Croc Files and five one-hour Steve Irwin specials, and is currently editing and supervising the 26-part Croc Diaries.
Blasdall heads his own post-production company THEpostWORKS and has edited or supervised everything from animated series to MOWs to award-winning documentaries. His work on Celebration of a Nation, a three screen program for Australia's Bicentennial Exhibition in 1988, was a Best Editing finalist at the Los Angeles International Film Awards. Blasdall has won many Australian industry awards, including the Australian Cinematographers Society's Frank Hurley Award for services to the Australian Film Industry.
The professional credits of MARK McDUFF (Composer) span composition, production, programming, songwriting, recording and performing. He has written dozens of advertising jingles, composed soundtracks for documentaries and television series, including some of The Crocodile Hunter episodes and the ABC's gritty reality-doco Cop It Sweet, and produced albums ranging from children's music to rock and roll to country for Australian artists, including ARIA Award winner Graeme Connors, much-loved Playschool presenter Noni Hazlehurst, and Australian rock stalwarts Dragon.
A former lecturer at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, McDuff has been honored with the National Golden Stylus Advertising Award for Best Soundtrack on two separate occasions.
CHRIS ANDERSON (Stunt Coordinator) has been a stunt performer for 27 years and a stunt coordinator for 18. During that time he has worked on dozens of productions requiring everything from flood to fire, falls to fights. He has been stunt coordinator on films including The Man From Snowy River 2, Crocodile Dundee in LA, Pitch Black, Proof (with Russell Crowe), Les Patterson Saves the World, Yolgnu Boy and the upcoming Swimming Upstream with Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis. For television, his credits include Mission Impossible, Moby Dick, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Time Trax, Ocean Girl, Flipper and the Australian series The Paul Hogan Show, Fire and Neighbours.