Those Australians are a sneaky group, I tell you. With all the noise being made right now around the massive epic, Australia, it’s important to look at the origins of this project. It may appear to be a simple and safe historical love story, directed by acclaimed Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and starring Australia-to-Hollywood stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Look a little closer, though, and I think you’ll see a massive Aussie film conspiracy.
It all starts in 1999, when Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise were still married. Due to Kidman’s long Australian shooting schedule on Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, Cruise decides that the upcoming sequel to Mission: Impossible will also be made in New South Wales. Both productions are plagued with delays and location problems (which some later speculated was the marriage of the two stars dissolving). Kidman and Cruise end their marriage prior to both films’ releases in 2000, but Moulin Rouge! ends triumphant with big box office sales and a slew of Oscar nominations. Mission: Impossible II, on the other hand, secures decent worldwide business but is considered by many a major disappointment. What stops Mission: Impossible II in its tracks, for the most part, is a beloved big-screen adaptation of the comic book, X-Men, released that same month in 2000. But wait, let’s back up…
The biggest rising star of X-Men is a then-unknown Australian actor named Hugh Jackman, who steals the movie as Wolverine. Funny thing is, Jackman wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. He was a last-minute addition once original choice Dougray Scott was forced to bow out. Why did the Scottish character actor Scott bow out? He was starring as the villain in a very delayed production called Mission: Impossible II, and unable to wrap as early as planned, due in part to the schedules of Luhrmann and Kidman’s Moulin Rouge! Thanks to this simple twist of fate, Hugh Jackman is now a movie star around the world and Dougray Scott was last seen in a recurring role on Desperate Housewives.
Now, some may just call this “coincidence” or “too much time on my hands,” but if you dig even deeper you will see an Australia-centric plot developing. Okay, here goes:
Luhrmann has wanted to make Australia for years, but to do so with a proper budget and control, he would need major international stars for his two romantic leads. In Hollywood, there are not that many Australian male movie stars these days (sorry, Paul Hogan). You basically had three at the time of casting, and two of them bailed. The first, Russell Crowe, walked because of salary. The second, Heath Ledger, walked to do The Dark Knight. The third? Hugh Jackman. By allowing Jackman to get cast in X-Men, Luhrmann and Kidman set the stage for one of their own to become a major player in Hollywood. Even in the very slim chance they would have considered him, Dougray Scott is from the U.K., which would have made him useless for this high-budget Aussie saga.
I’m not saying that there were secret meetings in Sydney during the Moulin Rouge! production. I’m not saying those meetings involved Lurhmann, Kidman, Jackman, and then-Prime Minister John Howard (any relation to Ron Howard, director of the Kidman and Cruise Irish historical epic Far and Away???? No.). I’m not saying the Australian film industry basically told them “delay production enough on Mission: Impossible II and Jackman is a star and you have your epic.” I’m not saying I have taped records of these secret meetings, with plans hatched over a case of Foster’s. I’m not saying that. But I wouldn’t put it past those sneaky Aussies. As the for the finished film, I can’t wait to see it.