Sullivan Stapleton hails ‘Ride Like a Girl’ as a #MeToo paradigm
In this #MeToo era Rachel Griffiths’ feature directing debut Ride Like a Girl is a shining example of a female-driven movie, according to Sullivan Stapleton.
The actor had an awesome time shooting the film in Melbourne with Teresa Palmer, who plays Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in 2015 on Prince of Penzance.
He played the horse’s trainer Darren Weir, who saw Payne’s skill, drive and ambition and supported her in a male-dominated world.
“In this climate the story of a strong, independent Australian woman is perfect timing,” Stapleton tells IF. It was his third collaboration with Palmer. They first worked together in Rod Hardy’s 2007 romantic drama December Boys and more recently in Kriv Stenders’ 2014 crime thriller Kill Me Three Times.
He had worked with Griffiths only once before, in Nadia Tass’ 1997 musical drama Amy. “I had heard great things about her directing Nowhere Boys. It was great having her as the Queen or the captain steering the ship,” he said.
The actor applauds Griffiths’ comments last week at the launch of #SheDirects, the Create NSW initiative which will fund the development of up to four one-hour TV drama projects with a female director and at least one other woman as part of the creative team.
While she welcomed seeing more complex depictions of women – beyond the tropes of “likeable, fuckable, adorable” – on shows like Mystery Road, Wentworth, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Dead Lucky and Top of the Lake, too frequently female characters were “under-written and under-observed,” she said.
Stapleton agrees, saying simply, “Talent is talent, no matter the gender.” Produced by Richard Keddie and scripted by Elise McCredie and Andrew Knight, Ride Like a Girl will premiere next year via Transmission Films.
This week he flies to New York to prepare for the fourth season of Blindspot, the NBC crime drama in which plays FBI special agent Kurt Weller, alongside Jaimie Alexander as his wife.
The third series, which airs on the Seven Network, ended with a cliffhanger as Weller is shot by a crony of his arch nemesis Roman Briggs (fellow Aussie Luke Mitchell) and is taken to hospital clinging to life.
In 2015 he co-starred with J.K. Simmons and Charlie Bewley in director Steven Quale’s Renegades, an action thriller about a team of Navy SEALs who are hired to salvage Nazi gold stored in a bank vault submerged at the bottom of a Bosnian lake. Produced by Luc Besson’s Europa Corp, the movie was released in Europe last year but is yet to open in the US via STX Entertainment.
He enjoyed working with Simmons so much that he asked the Oscar winner (for Whiplash) to star in A Boy Called Sailboat, the feature debut of Aussie writer-director Cameron Nugent, which was filmed in New Mexico.
Stapleton is one of the producers on the family comedy, the saga of a child whose guitar playing brings hope to his small town filled with charming and offbeat characters.
The film premiered in May at the Newport Beach Film Festival in California, winning the audience award in the family film section, and then won the director’s choice prize at the Prescott Film Festival in Arizona.
The 22-episodes Blindspot shoot will take 10 months. After that he is keen to come home, observing, “I always want to come back to tell our stories and to speak in my own accent.”