“THAT’S not a knife. That’s a knife!”
Most people recall the second part of the line as, “this is a knife”.
Released in 1986, Crocodile Dundee was a worldwide phenomenon. The Paul Hogan movie was the second highest grossing film at the US box office that year, beaten only by Top Gun.
The Oscar-nominated movie was a showcase for Australia and transformed Hogan from a local celebrity to an international superstar.
It is hard to believe that three decades have passed since we were first introduced to Australia’s legendary Mike Dundee, however as time goes by we only love this cinematic hit even more.
To mark Crocodile Dundee’s 30th anniversary we thought it was only fitting to catch up with this classic film’s infamous cast. Here’s how much the Dundee crew have changed since the summer of ’86 and some fun facts.
Which version did you watch?
Did you know that there are actually two versions of the first “Crocodile” Dundee movie? That’s right, there was an Australian version and an international version – the two were differentiated by specific words being replaced by more universally-understood terms. Looks like some of us missed out on the Aussie slang.
Paul Hogan has stated time and time again that there was no real life inspiration for the character of Crocodile Dundee.
In 2000 he told the BBC, “the germ was born on my first trip to New York”.
“I felt like an alien from another planet, some of the ‘Bushie’ guys I know would feel even more out of place. There’s a myth that there is a real Crocodile Dundee but there isn’t.”
John Meillon – Walter “Wally” Reilly
Meillon perfectly played Dundee’s business partner, Wally. But this wasn’t his first major acting role. He had already built up quite the professional portfolio before his croc-catching days – most importantly he received an OBE for services to theatre in the Queen’s honours list in 1979.
His last movie was ‘Crocodile Dundee II’ in 1988 – the following year, Meillon died at his home in New South Wales. Sadly, he wasn’t around to take part in the franchise’s third and final film. Luckily for Meillon, this was the worst of the three movies.
Breaking The Rules
Films certainly wouldn’t be shot in the same way today. The first film was shot in an old uranium mine, which couldn’t have had many health and safety regulations.
Mark Blum – Richard Mason
Playing the part of Sue’s scumbag editor come lover, Richard, meant that Blum was never going to be the most-loved character. Nevertheless, since appearing in the film he has gone on to have a successful acting career.
Mark Blum Now
He secured roles in ‘Frasier’, ‘The West Wing’ and ‘The Sopranos’ on his CV. The odd movie role surfaced in the 21st century too, with the actor starring in films such as ‘Step Up 3D’. Blum has since settled into a recurring role as Uncle Bob on the award-nominated Amazon music show ‘Mozart In The Jungle’.
Playboy bunnies and crocodiles don’t mix
Mike Tyson and other famous icons made cameos throughout the trilogy, but some celebrities that could have featured wouldn’t have worked so well. Playboy mansion owner and mogul Hugh Hefner was written into an early draft of “Crocodile” Dundee, but the script was later changed.
Linda Kozlowski – Sue Charlton
Who could forget the apple of Mick Dundee’s eye? The pair’s on-set relationship was so intense that Hogan left his wife to start a relationship with Kozlowski in real life. The lovebirds later got married in 1990. But did it last?
Linda Kozlowski Now
Sadly not. Hogan and Kozlowski had a son, Chance, but the pair divorced in 2003, with Kozlowski citing “irreconcilable differences” and the fact that they just “didn’t have anything in common”. She now spends her time travelling between her home in LA and her tourist business in Marrakesh.
Paul Hogan even won a Golden Globe award for his performance in 1986. It’s safe to say he threw a shrimp on the Barbie to celebrate!
Paul Hogan – Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee
Crocodile Dundee changed Hogan’s life in an instant, meaning he will forever be remembered as the knife-wielding bushman. After turning down the lead role in ‘Ghost’, he went on to star in the second and third Dundee film – it is safe to say neither lived up to the originality of the first.
Paul Hogan Now
Movie roles were few and far between after that, plus he then went on to get accused for tax fraud. Thankfully, the criminal investigation against him was eventually dropped, but not before it was revealed he had money in offshore accounts. Now 76 and semi-retired, Hogan helps care for his 17-year-old son, Chance.
Beverly Hills Dundee?
“Crocodile” Dundee and Beverly Hills Cop are both legendary movies, but you’d never expect to see them both on one screen, would you? The initial plan was to merge the two to create Beverly Hills Cop III – thank goodness that never happened.
Reginald VelJohnson – Gus
If you had forgotten about Gus the limo driver then shame on you. However, after his most recent blockbuster hits there is no way he will be forgotten again. ‘Die Hard 2’ was next on his agenda as was ‘Turner & Hooch’, in which he was promoted to Captain.
Reginald VelJohnson Now
Movie obscurity turned into TV opportunity, and Reginald VelJohnson appeared in a variety of US TV shows over the following decades, usually playing cops and/or authority figures – his last credited role was as ‘Officer James’ on Disney Channel TV spinoff ‘Girl Meets World’. Tragically, he has not yet been asked back for another ‘Die Hard’ movie.
Perks of the job
Hogan’s newfound fame and fortune led him to become the spokesperson for Subaru and bagged himself an Outback to drive. We can see why, since Mick Dundee drove the same model in Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.
David Gulpilil – Neville Bell
Crocodile Dundee was by no means this legendary actors career highlight, nevertheless the films wouldn’t be the same without him. What has he been up to since?
David Gulpilil Now
Gulipilil has made headlines for the wrong reasons since his Dundee days. In an argument in 2006 he produced a machete, while in 2010 he was sentenced to a year in prison after breaking his wife’s arm with a broom. However, despite these discretions Gulpilil still acts, and recently won Best Actor in the Un Certain Regard category at the Cannes Film Festival for the film ‘Charlie’s Country’.
Hogan’s first ever Crocodile film is now the fifth most watched movie to be broadcast on British television. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, a staggering 22 million people tuned into BBC1 on Christmas Day in 1989. We bet he was pretty jolly that year!
Coming to terms with the end
A spin-off about Mickey Dundee was in the works until the final film tanked at the box office. Producers knew that there weren’t good things to come and so cancelled the spin-off and accepted that the momentum was over.
Second best – but still one of the greats
The first “Crocodile” Dundee has made movie history since it was released in 1986. It was the second highest grossing film in the USA and the second highest grossing film at the box office in the entire world in 1986.
It’s quite the knife
The famous knife line is actually misquoted on a regular basis – the script actually reads “You call that a knife? That is a knife!”
Famous Rockstar Backed The Movie
INXS rocker Michael Hutchence was one of 1400 investors who chipped in to raise money for the movie.
The film cost $US7.1 million to make with Hogan and his business partner John Cornell chipping in $600,000 each of their own.
And boy did the financial risk pay off.
The movie went on to make $US328 million worldwide with the profits divided evenly among the investors and Hogan and Cornell’s production company.
Romance on set
Hogan was married to Noelene Edwards from 1982-1989, but he couldn’t stop his feelings forming towards co-star Linda Kozlowski. The co-stars later married in 1990, just four years after the first film’s release. Sadly, the pair weren’t meant to be and they later split in 2014.
Creating a folk hero
Hogan was desperate to made Mick Dundee become an Aussie legend, and he believed “We’ve always been desperately short of folk heroes in this country. Ned Kelly is pathetic. So are the bushrangers.”
A slow start
Mick Dundee might be the main character and central focus of the film, but did you ever notice that you don’t actually see the eccentric Aussie until eight whole minutes in the movie?
A swing and a miss
Despite both the first and second movies doing well at the box office, “Crocodile” Dundee holds an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while “Crocodile” Dundee II only scores 11%.
Dundee, Crocodile Dundee
Hogan never anticipated that his character would become part of a trilogy, so much so that he didn’t want to produce a third flick. He explained that Dundee “…isn’t James Bond and he doesn’t go all over the world solving crimes.”
It might unclear exactly where the inspiration for the first movie came from, but the second was inspired by the Rambo films. It’s still unclear how an Australian with great survival skills was linked to an Australian drug cartel.
Steve Rackman – Donk
Rackman aka Donk was the lucky man who got to kiss Paul Hogan. He was also a professional wrestler at the time who went by the name “Crusher” ,so it was a brave move by Hogan puckering up to such a fierce figure.
Steve Rackman Now
Donk reprised his role in both sequels and felt like completing the Crocodile Dundee trilogy was a fitting way to retire from Hollywood. After the third movie was released he took a back seat and now runs a gym back home in Australia.
The Man, The Myth, The Legend
Although Bushman Rob Ansell supposedly inspired the film, it wasn’t for the reasons that you might expect. It was actually because he chose to sleep on the floor of a fancy hotel room that sparked the idea for a movie – completely disregarding his incredible survival skills that arose after decapitating crocodiles, sleeping with snakes, capsizing a boat and even drinking cow blood.
Not everyone was a fan of the movie. Some Australian critics and viewers felt that it gave an unflattering portrayal of Australians and made them look like ‘redneck’ characters. Offending your home fans is never the way to go.
Despite living a life that many of us could only dream of, Bushman Rob Ansell had his downfalls. Sadly, he suffered from mental illness and drug addiction, which led to him being shot and killed in one of the most insane police shootouts of all time.
The first movie only cost about $9 million to make – which is next to nothing in the movie industry. The small budget allowed a commercial Australian flick become popular within mainstream America.
Since the first movie was so successful on a small budget, the producers decided to repeat the process. The second movie only cost $4 million!
While the movies were made on a ridiculously low budget, the amount that they brought in is even more surprising. The first two films made about $300 million and $200 million, but the last movie bombed at $39 million.
Dreams to come true
Hogan was in character when he opened the 2000 Sydney Olympic games – he must have been so happy that his dreams of his character becoming a legend came true.