Lachy Hulme as Blake in Stan Original Series ‘Romper Stomper’. (Photo Credit: Ben King.)
When Lachy Hulme turned up for the first day of shooting Stan’s Romper Stomper series, he had transformed himself into a human version of a Silverback gorilla.
That’s how he saw his character Blake, the gone-to-seed leader of far-right group Patriot Blue in the six-part crime drama/political thriller.
The actor had his hair close-cropped and bleached, and had spent weeks power-eating and power-lifting to put on 10 kilograms – much of it across the shoulders – to simulate a man who had been on steroids which left him impotent.
“Blake is a fake tough guy who is full of rage and sends other people to do his fighting,” Hulme tells IF. “You would have seen on the news these thugs who called themselves Patriot Blue surrounding Senator Sam Dastyari. What is so common with this type of bully is they can only operate in a pack. Once they are separated from a pack the whole house of cards tumbles.
”I had never played a character with this level of rage, of dark heart, and I hope I don’t have to do it again.”
Produced by Roadshow Rough Diamond’s John Edwards and Dan Edwards and co-directed by Geoffrey Wright, Daina Reid and James Napier Robertson, Romper Stomper premieres on Stan on New Year’s Day.
One of the attractions of the series, a sequel to Wright’s 1992 movie which starred Russell Crowe as Nazi skinhead Hando, was to work with Toby Wallace who plays Kane, the estranged son of Jacqueline McKenzie’s Gabe.
Blake invites Kane to join Patriot Blue, seeing him as a younger version of himself and not expecting Kane to challenge his leadership.
Hulme had been a fan of Wallace since seeing him in Nick Verso’s horror/thriller Boys in the Trees in February at the Peninsula Short Film Festival, where he serves as a judge each year as a favour to his mate Steve Bastoni, who runs the festival.
Wallace credits Hulme with being a mentor, imparting valuable tips and advice. Hulme says the best advice was to watch Al Pacino in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II, to see how Pacino makes every word “land,” sometimes in a whisper.
Full of admiration for Wallace’s performance after watching the first two episodes, Hulme says: “It is chilling. It is certainly not Russell Crowe’s Hando. There is something much more insidious about his performance and there is incredible nuance. He is a naturally gifted actor. At his age I was still doing co-op theatre, screaming about socialism to an empty space at 2 am.”
Another inducement was the chance to collaborate again with Wright. Hulme played Macduff in Wright’s 2006 contemporary crime drama Macbeth, inspired by the Shakespeare play.
The actor had told his then-agent not to put his name forward because he was scared of Shakespeare. That changed when he got a call from Wright after the film’s composer John Clifford White gave the director a copy of Hulme’s first movie, 2001 mystery Four Jacks.
He also relished renewing his collaboration with John Edwards, following Offspring (in which he starred for five seasons), Gallipoli, Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War, Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story, Beaconsfield and Rush.
John Edwards says: “Lachy is sensationally good as the gone-to-seed fascist leader. The way he takes these big characters with relish is fantastic. I think he is astonishing.”
Hulme was knocked out by the work of DOP Bonnie Elliott, whose credits include Seven Types of Ambiguity, Hunters, Spear and These Final Hours.
The actor confidently predicts: “She has an Academy Award for cinematography in her future. The 1992 movie is like Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. This show is like Michael Mann’s Heat.”