Emil, way back in 1981 you played ‘the Feral Kid’ in the hugely successful sequel to George Miller’s Mad Max. I suppose everybody wants to know what are you doing now? (Here at Jonnys cult films we love shameless plugs so please tell us all about your Jewellery business.
I've been managing a Jewellers shop in Sydney for 23 years. It's called Chris Lewis Jewellers and we have just built a website called www.sydneydiamonds.com.au
We specialise in custom made platinum diamond engagement rings.
We have just built a separate site which I designed called www.gearzone.com.au Where we sell LEATHERMAN multi-tools, LED LENSER torches and TRASER watches and other cool stuff. Which is doing really well and I love selling these products because many of our sales go to people in rescue and law enforcement agencies and many farmers on the land to assist them in their daily duties. They are great products I use myself and I love my gadgets.
The best part of my life these days are my family, I have the best wife Isabella and two great kids, Jacob my 11 year old son and Petra my 6 year old daughter. Without them I would be just a "shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man" (I couldn't resist that quote) LOL ...I still know so many lines from the mad max movies and use them all the time. I don't know if that’s funny or sad.
The Mad Max movies were and continue to be one of Australia’s most successful film franchises. I imagine that the Feral Kid was a highly coveted role to get at the time. I read that you won the role when the film makers were impressed with your ideas around how Feral Kid arrived at the compound. Can you remember what you told them?
As a part of my audition for the role of the feral kid I was asked to give my impression of how I became to live in the wastelands. My father helped me with this and the story basically was that my parents and I were flying over the desert and we ran out of fuel.
We had to land and my father went to search for fuel and didn't come back. My mother went to look for him and she didn’t return. I was left to defend for myself and had to live of the land.
Mad Max 2 has its fair share of gore and adult themes from rape to fingers being chopped off with razor boomerangs. Bloody hell, the character Wez still scares me! As an 8 year old boy surrounded by all this going on weren’t you freaked out by it all?
I wasn’t freaked out at all by all of the scary costumes and the blood as I loved getting the makeup done every day and seeing who was getting what costumes and how they were made to look mean and scary. I was sponged with a brown colour body wash made up of dirt and other stuff to look like I was tanned and dirty from living in the wastelands and I loved getting the bloody cuts and scratches done for the end truck roll over scene. I met up with Vernon Wells (WEZ) about a year ago in Sydney and he said that for the scene on the front of the truck where he comes up over the front and scares me, I actually kept laughing and we had to keep doing takes to get it right. He said that what he did to make me freak out was on the last take he got a sponge full of blood and covered his face and when he came up he grabbed my hand it scared the Crap out of me, and that’s the scene you see in the movie and I was actually screaming for real.
On the day that they blew up the compound I was supposed to be allowed to see it myself. I recall that I was running late from leaving the hotel where we stayed; someone was driving me out to location to see it and did not get there in time to get over the hill and on the safe side where everyone was to watch the explosion. All I saw was the thick cloud of smoke on the other side of a hill from after the explosion and was quite distraught from missing it.
With all the car chases and explosions I imagine it must have been an awesome experience for a boy to see at such a young age. What did you enjoy most about the shoot?
At the age of 8 I was just having fun playing my character pretty much as me. It was awesome sitting in and messing around in all of the cool cars that were on the set. My favourite thing in my spare time was to explore the compound and especially the Moat (the ditch) that was around the compound. I used to go through all of the building materials that were used to build the compound and find all sorts of cool stuff to play with. One of the things I did find, was boxes of scrap gear shaped washers
And I put them on a piece of string and made it look like a necklace. Well I actually gave it to Arkie Whiteley (The Gyro Captain`s Girl) and she wore it in the film.
Did you get to keep that sweet boomerang?
I got to keep a two things, one was the music box which unfortunately I don’t have any more as I pulled it apart as a kid which is what I used to do a lot ( pull things apart and see how they worked ) and not everything got put back together.
On the last day that I was at location and ready to fly back to Sydney from Broken Hill, I was given one of the boomerangs. There were 2 of them. One was the polished one that you see me throw and show off to Mel with the blood over it after I made my kill. The other one was what I call my stunt Boomerang LOL, this was the one that was used when I caught the boomerang in the scene where I missed my first throw and it returned back to me. It has holes drilled in it where fishing line was tied into it and the fishing line ran up to a motor that was on a long stick/ boom and the guy who was holding it directed the slowly turning boomerang into my hand with the glove on.
This piece of memorabilia is my most treasured and I have been asked many times in the past how much would I sell it for and my response is not for a million bucks. Even my wife Isabella says if I ever sell it she will divorce me LOL.
Two other things I did have from my time on set was a roll of fake barbed wire (used on the side of the tanker).
Also I used to go into the editing room which was part of the motel I stayed in and there I got some of the used scrap film and cut and spliced my own very short film roll. Once again both of them unfortunately I don’t have any longer, they were lost at some stage when we were moving house when I was younger.
You were never a part of the disappointing third film. Have you ever been approached about appearing in future Mad Max projects?
I have not been approached for any part of any other movies to do with the Mad Max series. I do however look forward to seeing what becomes of the next instalment for The MAD MAX phenomenon.Aside from your fantastic portrayal as Feral Kid, not an easy task considering you have dialogue in the film, one of the things that impressed me about you was that awesome hair cut! Please tell me your parents let you keep it after the film had finished?
Sorry to disappoint you but if you didn’t know, the long hair was just a wig. The wig started from the middle top part of my head and went back, But the hair in front and including the blonde side streaks were mine and yes these stayed until the grew out. I have been known in the past when I was a kid to dye my hair with side streaks to relive my most exciting time as a youngster being part of one of Australia`s if not the world’s biggest films.
I feel very humble to have been part of it and still am amazed today that there is such a big cult following and still gets new generations of fans today.
“As for Max, he Lives now only in my memories” Sorry couldn’t resist a quote again… LOL
Emil, thank you so much for your time. Jonnys cult films really appreciate the opportunity you have given us. Mad Max: Road Warrior is one of our absolute favourite films of all time (Jonny even has your action figure!) and is the quintessential apocalyptic road movie. We wish you all the best in future and hope that if you are ever in the UK that you look us up!
Emil Minty's classic scene!!