Last Cab will tackle euthanasia, with humour

18 September, 2013 by Don Groves

Michael Caton and Jacki Weaver are attached to star in Last Cab, a comedy-drama about a dying man’s final journey.

The film is based on Reg Cribb play’s Last Cab to Darwin, which in turn was inspired by the cases of Max Bell and Bob Dent.


Bell was a terminally ill cab driver who drove 3,000 km from his home in Broken Hill to Darwin in the early 1990s in hopes of taking advantage of the Northern Territory's voluntary euthanasia laws. Dent was the first Australian to die from a legal, voluntary lethal injection in the Northern Territory in 1996.

Director Jeremy Sims aims to start shooting on location next March/April, with Greg Duffy as the producer, if the project succeeds in gaining investment from Screen Australia at its October board meeting.

Caton will play a character named Rex, who is an amalgam of Bell and Dent. Ningali Lawford has been cast as Polly, an Aboriginal woman who is Rex’s next door neighbour and occasional lover, a role written specifically for her.

Weaver is set to play a doctor who ministers to Rex. The filmmakers are in discussions with Bridesmaids star Rebel Wilson for the role of an English backpacker nurse.

Wilson created and stars in Super Fun Night, a half-hour comedy series about three nerdy twentysomething women on a quest to have fun every Friday night, which premieres in the US on CBS on October 2.

The play Last Cab to Darwin was staged in 2003 by Sims’ Porch Chop Productions in Perth and at the Sydney Opera House, featuring Barry Otto, Justine Saunders and Weaver.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Bryce Hallett hailed the play as a “big-hearted, sprawling, dry-humoured, unwieldy saga which splendidly evokes the landscape of knotted trees, furnace sunsets and the dual feeling of liberation and terror on the journey from Broken Hill to Darwin.”

Cribb and Sims have written the screenplay, which differs markedly from the play. Cribb was nominated for an AFI award for his screenplay Last Train to Freo, which Sims directed and Duffy produced.

Screen Australia funded the development of the project. Icon is attached as the Australian distributor and the international rights will be handled by Paris-based Films Distribution.