Bryan Brown


Actor, Producer

About

Also Known As
Bryan Neathway Brown
Birth Place
Sydney, New South Wales, AU
Born
June 23, 1947

Biography

The virile yet thoughtful lead of numerous Australian features in the 1970s and 1980s, including such landmark films as "Breaker Morant" (1980) and "Stir" (1980), Bryan Brown's sturdy performances brought him to Hollywood in the 1980s, where he essayed largely one-dimensional figures in "F/X" (1986) and "Cocktail" (1988). He was better served in more independent-minded fare, where his a...

Family & Companions

Rachel Ward
Wife
Actor. Born on September 12, 1957; met while playing husband and wife during the filming of the ABC miniseries "The Thorn Birds" (1983); married in 1983; co-starred together in "The Good Wife" (1986) and the Showtime miniseries "On the Beach" (2000).

Biography

The virile yet thoughtful lead of numerous Australian features in the 1970s and 1980s, including such landmark films as "Breaker Morant" (1980) and "Stir" (1980), Bryan Brown's sturdy performances brought him to Hollywood in the 1980s, where he essayed largely one-dimensional figures in "F/X" (1986) and "Cocktail" (1988). He was better served in more independent-minded fare, where his ability to root out and examine the flaws of these stoic figures was put to better use; Brown would later give more nuanced turns in Australian-made fare like "Two Hands" (1999), with Heath Ledger, and "Dirty Deeds" (2002). A leading figure in that country's film and television career for over three decades, Brown's body of work commanded and received the respect due to a versatile performer who favored quality over box office returns.

The son of Molly Brown, a former pianist for the Langshaw School of Ballet, and her salesman husband John, Bryan Neathway Brown was born on June 23, 1947 in Sydney, Australia. Raised in the suburb of Bankstown, he discovered acting while working as an actuary. Performances in local amateur theater convinced the 25-year-old to change careers, so he headed to England to further his studies. There, he honed his craft through small parts at the legendary Old Vic before returning to his native country and joining the Queensland Theatre Company. In 1977, he made his feature film debut in "The Love Letters from Teralba Road," an award-winning short starring Brown as an abusive husband who attempted to win back his estranged wife through a series of heartfelt letters. The combination of rough-hewn physicality and emotional depth found in his performance would be his calling card throughout his career.

The success of "Teralba Road" made Brown a popular player in Australian film during the country's moviemaking boom in the late 1970s and 1980s. He appeared in no less than eight films between 1978 and 1980, among them the box office and critical hits "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith" (1978), "Newsfront" (1978), as a newspaper editor working with a pair of competitive photographers and brothers; and "The Odd Angry Shot" (1980), in which he portrayed an Australian serviceman in Vietnam. He gradually worked his way up to leads, first in the harrowing prison drama "Stir" (1980), as a hardened con trying to stay out of trouble during a return to a violent prison, and later, in the Golden Globe-nominated "Breaker Morant" (1980) as an Australian soldier court-martialed and executed during the Boer War in South African for allegedly murdering prisoners of war. A critical hit around the globe, it brought Brown to international attention, and earned him the Best Supporting Actor award from the Australian Film Institute.

The following year, he gained a wider audience in American through PBS broadcasts of "A Town Like Alice" (1981), a television adaptation of Nevil Shute's novel of a young Scottish woman's experiences in the Pacific Theater during World War II, and her reunion in Australia with the solder (Brown) who nearly sacrificed his life to save her. Two years later, he earned an Emmy nomination as the callow but manly Luke O'Neil, single-minded husband to Rachel Ward's Meggie, who leaves him for Richard Chamberlain's Father Ralph, in the phenomenally successful American miniseries, "The Thorn Birds" (ABC, 1983). Though he lost the award to Chamberlain, he did fall in love and marry Ward, with whom he had three children. In fact, Ward - an exquisite actress on the cusp of major fame - essentially gave up her career to move Down Under and become Mrs. Brown.

For a brief period in the mid- to late-1980s, Hollywood attempted to mold Brown into a leading man in American features. The results were decidedly mixed: "F/X" (1985) was a modest thriller about a special effects artist (Brown) recruited to fake a murder and then is framed for the actual killing, but its sequel, "F/X 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion" (1991), which marked Brown's debut as a producer, was largely forgotten. The sprawling historical epic "Tai-Pan" (1986), with Brown as a British merchant who vied for control of the 19th century Chinese market with a determined rival, fared poorly at the box office and largely ended Brown's stint as a leading man in the West. He found stronger roles in support of major leads like Tom Cruise in "Cocktail" (1988), where his faded good-time bartender lent the otherwise fluffy picture a hint of gravitas. That same year, he played National Geographic photographer Bob Campbell, whose love for naturalist Dian Fossey (Sigourney Weaver) cannot compete with her obsession for African mountain gorillas in "Gorillas in the Mist."

Throughout the following decade, Brown worked largely in American television while maintaining a hand in Australian features. His Stateside work relied largely on his physicality, most notably in an Australian-lensed miniseries take on "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (ABC, 1997), with Michael Caine as Captain Nemo and Brown as the harpooner, Ned Land. In his native country, he served as producer and narrator of "Twisted Tales" (Nine Network, 1996), a suspense anthology series that hinged on its surprise endings, as well as its follow-up, "Two Twisted" (Nine Network, 2006), which drew its writers and directors from open submissions. In 1999, he won his second Australian Film Institute Award as a vicious gangster who made life difficult for a young Heath Ledger in "Two Hands" (1999). He later played a more sympathetic hood in "Dirty Deeds" (2002), a period drama about an Australian gambling boss who tangled with the Mafia over control of Sydney. The hyper-stylized drama was a minor hit in Australia. In 2000, he co-starred with his wife in a Golden Globe-nominated remake of "On the Beach" (Showtime), with Ward as an Australian woman awaiting her own death after a nuclear attack and Brown as her ex-boyfriend, a cynical, self-pitying scientist. The project was only the couple's second joint acting effort.

Brown worked steadily in Australia in the new millennium, most notably in "Murder in the Outback" (Channel Ten/ITV, 2007), about the harrowing assault of backpacker Joanne Lees in 2001, and the subsequent trial of her kidnapper, with Brown as her attorney, Rex Wild. In 2004, he made a brief return to American moviemaking as a Richard Branson-esque industrialist whose penchant for life-threatening stunts made it impossible for actuary Ben Stiller to insure him in "Along Came Polly" (2004). Four years later, he joined such Australian acting stars as Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, his "Breaker Morant" co-star Jack Thompson and David Gulpilil in Baz Luhrmann's epic "Australia" (2008). Brown played "King" Carney, a villainous cattle baron who attempted to roust English royal Kidman from her adopted cattle station. In 2009, Brown co-starred in Ward's directorial debut, the critically praised "Beautiful Kate," a moving family drama about a family torn apart by incest and premature death. Brown played the family's patriarch, who brought together his troubled children due to his impending death.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Peter Rabbit (2018)
Voice
Sweet Country (2017)
The Light Between Oceans (2016)
Gods of Egypt (2016)
Kill Me Three Times (2015)
Limbo (2011)
Love Birds (2011)
Beautiful Kate (2010)
Dean Spanley (2008)
Australia (2008)
Spring Break Shark Attack (2006)
The Poseidon Adventure (2005)
Along Came Polly (2004)
The Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman (2004)
Dirty Deeds (2003)
Barry Ryan
Footsteps (2003)
Eddie Bruno
Styx (2001)
Risk (2000)
John Kreisky
Grizzly Falls (1999)
Tyrone
Two Hands (1999)
Maurice 'Pando' Panderson
On the Border (1998)
Still Twisted (1997)
Twisted (1996)
Jack ("The Confident Man")
Dead Heart (1996)
Ray Lorkin
Full Body Massage (1995)
Fitch
The Last Hit (1993)
Michael Grant
Devlin (1992)
Frank Devlin
Blame It on the Bellboy (1992)
Charlton Black; Mike Lawton
Sweet Talker (1991)
Harry Reynolds
FX2 - The Deadly Art of Illusion (1991)
Dead in the Water (1991)
Prisoners of the Sun (1990)
Captain Robert Cooper
Cocktail (1988)
Gorillas in the Mist (1988)
Bob Campbell
The Good Wife (1987)
Sonny Hills
F/X (1986)
Tai-Pan (1986)
Rebel (1986)
The Empty Beach (1985)
Parker (1985)
David Parker
Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984)
Kim (1984)
Mahbub Ali
Far East (1983)
Morgan Keefe
The Winter of Our Dreams (1982)
Rob
Stir (1980)
China
Blood Money (1980)
Brian Shields
Breaker Morant (1980)
Palm Beach (1979)
Paul Kite
Cathy's Child (1979)
Nicko
The Odd Angry Shot (1979)
Rogers
Money Movers (1978)
Third Person Plural (1978)
Mark
Newsfront (1978)
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)
Shearer
The Irishman (1978)
The Love Letters From Teralba Road (1977)
Len

Writer (Feature Film)

Sweet Talker (1991)
From Story

Producer (Feature Film)

Beautiful Kate (2010)
Producer
Cactus (2008)
Executive Producer
Dirty Deeds (2003)
Producer
Still Twisted (1997)
Executive Producer
Still Twisted (1997)
Producer
Twisted (1996)
Producer
Dead Heart (1996)
Producer
Twisted (1996)
Executive Producer
FX2 - The Deadly Art of Illusion (1991)
Executive Producer

Special Thanks (Feature Film)

Edie & Pen (1996)
Special Thanks To

Cast (Special)

The 62nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1990)
Presenter

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

On the Beach (2000)
Julian Osborne
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1999)
Casper Hastings
Dear Claudia (1998)
Walter Burton
Dogboys (1998)
Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997)
MacCauley's Daughter (1989)

Life Events

1973

Worked in repertory theaters in England; joined the National Theatre of Britain

1977

Feature film acting debut, "The Love Letters From Teralba Road"

1978

Had supporting roles in two seminal Australian films, "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith" and "Newsfront"

1979

American TV acting debut in the syndicated miniseries "Against the Wind"

1980

Won international acclaim for the supporting role in "Breaker Morant"

1981

Appeared opposite Judy Davis in "The Winter of Our Discontent"

1981

Starred in the miniseries "A Town Like Alice" (aired in the US on PBS' "Masterpiece Theater")

1983

First on-screen collaboration with future wife Rachel Ward, playing husband and wife in the ABC miniseries "The Thorn Birds"; earned Supporting Actor Emmy and Golden Globe nominations

1984

Had leading role in the CBS small screen remake of "Kim"

1986

Starred as special effects technician Rollie Tyler in the thriller "F/X"

1986

Re-teamed on screen with wife Rachel Ward in the Australian period drama "The Good Wife"

1988

Co-starred as Tom Cruise's mentor in "Cocktail"

1988

Portrayed Sigourney Weaver's love interest in the fact-based "Gorillas in the Mist"

1991

Played the leading role in the USA Network film "Dead in the Water"

1991

Executive produced first feature, "FX2 - The Deadly Art of Illusion"; also reprised role of Rollie Tyler

1991

Provided story for and acted in the feature "Sweet Talker"

1992

Cast in the title role in the Showtime drama "Devlin"

1996

Executive produced (also narrated) the compilation feature "Twisted"; segments compiled from the Australian TV series "Twisted Tales"

1996

Starred as twins from medieval times who are reincarnated in the modern world in the syndicated series "The Wanderer"

1997

Co-starred in the ABC miniseries adaptation of "Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"

1997

Served as executive producer of "Still Twisted," the second compilation film from "Twisted Tales" series

1999

Garnered praise for his turn as a tough guy chasing a young street hustler in the Australian drama "Two Hands"

1999

Co-starred as a missing scientist in the USA Network miniseries "Journey to the Center of the Earth"

2000

Again collaborated with wife Rachel Ward as estranged lovers in the Showtime movie "On the Beach"

2004

Played a businessman who enjoys high-risk sports in the comedy "Along Came Polly"

2006

Executive produced the follow up series, "Two Twisted"

2008

Portrayed a cattle baron in director Baz Luhrmann's epic "Australia"

Videos

Movie Clip

Newsfront (1978) - Best Country In The World Australia ca. 1946, brothers and somewhat rival newsmen Len (Bill Hunter) and Frank (Gerard Kennedy) have a tense chat in a bar then at a screening, introduced by Bryan Brown, view the famous footage from the death of the cameraman Damien Parer, in Phillip Noyce's Newsfront, 1978.
Breaker Morant - There Was An Understanding In a British Court Martial during the Boer War, defense lawyer Thomas (Jack Thompson) questions Taylor (John Waters) about the role of Australian Lt. Morant (Edward Woodward) in the execution of prisoners, director Bruce Beresford recounting the event in flashback, in Breaker Morant, 1980.
Breaker Morant - Penalty Is Death Australian soldiers Morant (Edward Woodward), Handcock (Bryan Brown) and Witton (Lewis Fitz-Gerald) meet inexperienced defense attorney Thomas (Jack Thompson), appointed by superiors determined to secure their conviction, in Breaker Morant, 1980.
Breaker Morant - Duke Of Wellington In a flashback, prisoners Morant (Edward Woodward), Handcock (Bryan Brown) and Witton (Lewis Fitz-Gerald) are pressed into service during a Boer attack, attorney Thomas (Jack Thompson) and judge (Charles Tingwell) clashing in court, in Breaker Morant. 1980.
Breaker Morant - Avenge Captain Hunt After credits establishing the court martial of the title character, British Captain Hunt (Terence Donovan) gets led into an ambush, Handcock (Bryan Brown), Witton (Lewis Fitz-Gerald) and Morant (Edward Woodward) receiving the news, in Bruce Beresfords's Boer War drama Breaker Morant, 1980.

Trailer

Family

Molly Brown
Mother
Housecleaner, pianist.
Kristine Brown
Sister
Educator. Younger.
Rosie Brown
Daughter
Born in 1984.
Matilda Brown
Daughter
Born in 1987.
Joe Brown
Son
Born in 1992.

Companions

Rachel Ward
Wife
Actor. Born on September 12, 1957; met while playing husband and wife during the filming of the ABC miniseries "The Thorn Birds" (1983); married in 1983; co-starred together in "The Good Wife" (1986) and the Showtime miniseries "On the Beach" (2000).

Bibliography