Brendan Cowell on Save Your Legs!
Brendan Cowell is standing by the hotel window taking photos on his phone.
“He’s taking photos of churches,” co-star Stephen Curry explains, who is headed to another interview but has lingered to introduce himself. “He’s a church nut.”
It’s a description Cowell later denies. “Yeah, because I’m deeply religious. Not,” he says as he throws himself onto the couch, still playing with his phone. After a moment he catches himself and hastily throws the mobile on the table. “Sorry about that. I’m throwing it away.”
Cowell stars alongside Curry and Damon Gameau in the new Aussie feature Save Your Legs!; a cricket comedy directed by Boyd Hicklin and based on the 2005 documentary of the same name.
The film follows Ted (Curry), president of D-grade cricket team, and his frustration over his teammates’ refusal to take the sport as seriously as they once did. In a desperate bid to recapture the days of their past – when cricket took priority over things such as marriage and children – Ted manages to trick a sponsor into entering them into a professional competition in India.
Cowell, who also wrote the screenplay, came across the story when he met producer Nick Batzias at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007.
“We ended up hanging up after hours and listening to the Ashes at his lodge, and getting up to mischief, and he recognised a few kind of Rick-like (Cowell’s character) behaviours that I had going for myself and also shared a love of cricket. So he sent me the doco… and I emailed him back and said ‘You guys should make a movie out of this, like a big bromantic broad comedy and they said, ‘We’re thinking the same thing! Do you want to write it?’”
Although the film definitely subscribes to aspects of a typical boys-on-tour plotline (bouts of food poisoning and drug use come to mind) Cowell insists the heart of the film lies in the changing nature of mateship as men get older.
“It is, you know, a lot of my mates have two to four kids and you have to book in seven weeks in advance to have a beer with them, whereas we used to be in the pub every Friday smashing ten beers watching the footy…it’s different now,” he says. “But it doesn’t mean it’s over, it just means it’s different. And that’s sort of Ted’s lesson in the movie. Also, it’s probably time for him to play a few shots of his own. It’s time for all the men to kind of (grow up)… because you know, we mature late.”
Cowell said the situation can be particularly frustrating because men don’t communicate with each other as much and as openly as women, though their feelings for their mates are equally as strong.
“I was dating a girl recently and I’d say, ‘Oh tell me about that friend,’ and she’d say, ‘Oh my god she’s f—ing amazing! She’s this and that…’ and, you know, girls always talk about their friends (in a positive light) and guys are like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s alright,’ and they’ll be his best mate.’ …But then when we have the ten beers, we’ll tell each other that we really love each other. But it’s not until 2am in the morning that we feel we can kind of do it. But I don’t know, we care deeply about each other, and I think we think about each other a lot and we hope that our mates rate us, you know, and all those kind of things,” he says.
“I think that’s why it’s funny in the movie to see men breaking up. You think, it’s just like a love relationship with a chick. It’s exactly the same. It’s ‘I’m moving on and I don’t have time and my priorities have shifted and it’s not you it’s me,’ and all that kind of stuff, and I think that’s a nice comic juxtaposition to be around… these seemingly unemotional beasts dealing with a turning point in their lives.”
The film shot over seven weeks in India, an experience Cowell describes as “completely mad”.
“It’s an intense place, with a lot of different spices, a lot of different colours, a lot of different noises and over a billion people. A billion! And you can see that billion people everywhere you look. And cricket, happening everywhere. But the thing I thought kind of cancelled itself out nicely was that shooting a film is a ridiculous proposition anyway, you’re kind of burning money and you’re trying to bring together all these art forms and all these mediums into something quite simple, and it’s quite a chaotic and ridiculous thing to do. So doing it in a chaotic and ridiculous place kind of made sense, because you just have to accept India is going to throw so much stuff at you.”
This “stuff” included monsoonal rain, getting shut down by police, what Cowell describes as a “gang of motorbikies” and turning up to shoot your final scene to find a wedding happening smack-bang in the middle of the pitch.
“We did roll up to shoot the final cricket scene and there was a wedding, on the pitch, and there was a groom on a horse, and a thousand people ready to go into this entrance, which was very kind of vaginal-looking thing, this big red thing, and a groom on a horse all ready to go and we thought, ‘We booked this location and now there’s a wedding on it.’
“We kind of shot the other direction for about four hours until the wedding was over and got rid of the tent… the production designer was ready to shoot themselves by the end of it, but we thought it was funny. But production designers don’t.”
Save Your Legs! hits cinemas on February 28.
View the trailer here: