YouTube star, Spall cast in Sucker

07 April, 2014 by Don Groves

Young YouTube star John Luc and veteran English actor Timothy Spall are playing the odd couple at the centre of Sucker, director Ben Chessell’s  feature which is shooting in Melbourne.

Luc plays Lawrence, an 18-year-old Chinese Australian who cheats in his high school final year exams and fails to get into medicine. Banished to stay with his uncle for the summer, Lawrence meets Spall’s the Professor, a colourful, ageing conman.


Lawrence begins a road trip with the Professor and his daughter Sarah (Lily Sullivan) as the Professor teaches Lawrence the art of swindling and cheating, while from Sarah he learns a hard lesson in unrequited love.

As Lawrence and the Professor plan their biggest scam, the teenager and Sarah plan a swindle of their own  and Lawrence is forced to make a choice between love, life and lies. Kat Stewart is cast as Sarah’s mother and Jacek Koman plays the Professor’s nemesis.

The screenplay is by Chessell and Lawrence Leung, adapted from Leung's stage show which toured Australia, New Zealand and the UK in the early 2000s.

The Melbourne-based Luc has written, directed and performed in 200 short films which have had 244 million YouTube views globally.  Robyn Kershaw, who is producing with Jason Byrne, told IF she discovered Luc via her daughter and niece, who are big fans of the YouTube star.

The versatile Luc plays himself, his sister and mother in some of those shorts.  He shot a six-episode web series with the filmmakers before embarking on the film. Sucker is his feature debut.

Kershaw said Spall got the role “because we needed someone with gravitas, from the old school. It’s a juxtaposition of two worlds.” Spall's credits include Mike Leigh's upcoming Mr. Turner, the Harry Potter movies, The King's Speech,  TV's The Street and Leigh's All or Nothing.

The financiers are Screen Australia, Jake Film Finance, Film Victoria and DDP Studios. Madman Entertainment will distribute in Australia and New Zealand and Tine Klint’s Level K is handling international sales. Jake’s Joan Peters is the executive producer.

Chessell made his feature directing debut as one of 10 directors on the 2007 comedy Little Deaths. He’s been working in TV, directing a segment of the NBC summer series Camp and multiple episodes of Offspring, Rush and Rescue Special Ops.

Leung said, “Sucker started off as a story I told on a stage with a slide projector and a deck of cards. A decade later, the show has transformed into a feature film. As someone who knows a thing or two about cons, naturally this sounds too good to be true. I am so thrilled and can't wait to rope some suckers… er… audiences into the world we have created."

Chessell said, “Lawrence’s world is one you’ve never seen before – it’s fresh, exciting and warm. We travel into this new world and realise the people in it are just like us, we discover ourselves in his world. The shape of a good con is like the shape of a good movie: it sets up a world, it charms you, sucks you in, then it does something completely unexpected and surprising. It delights – trust me.”