September 21, 2011

We're Gonna Give 'em Back Their Heroes: An Interview with Roger Ward

Hailing from Australia and referred to as a legend by Quentin Tarantino, Roger Ward is an actor and novelist whose controversial book THE SET has finally been published this year after four decades. Having starred in such films as MAD MAX, STONE, TURKEY SHOOT, and MAN FROM HONG KONG, just to name a few, Roger is undoubtedly an important figure in Australian cinema and Cult cinema in general. I recently had the honor of corresponding with Mr. Ward, and in this interview he goes into great detail about his film career, his days as a pro-wrestler, his book, and his passion for writing. A special thank you goes out to Dr. Zom from the Silva & Gold podcast for putting me in touch with Mr. Ward. Enjoy!

Roger Ward as Fifi in MAD MAX

Roger Ward as Ritter in TURKEY SHOOT

Roger Ward as Hooks in STONE

The Death Rattle: I guess we'll start with the usual: How did you get into acting, and what was the Australian film industry like at the time?
Roger Ward: I was a brash, dead end type kid who lived in a suburb called Kilburn 4 miles from the city of Adelaide in South Australia. The house was made of corrugated iron and we had chickens, ducks, and dogs and cats. We had dirt and metal roads and earth footpaths. The street had a stack of kids and my brother Peter and the rest of the kids in the street warred with other gangs. There were no reprimands. No boredom and definitely no television. Radio was our source of entertainment. So to even think of acting at that time, let alone film acting was something that never entered one’s mind.
The local picture theatre was a brick and iron building that we called the Flea Pit, the seats were wood and of the fold up variety. It cost 6 pence to watch the matinee. We fought for the front seats and at interval would crowd the tiny shop behind the screen and spend our penny on sweets. As we grew older though, we preferred the back seats. It was there we did things to the local girls. I loved the cowboy flicks, the Hopalong Cassidy’s, the Tom Mix dramas, the Abbott Costello and Bob Hope, comedies, The serials such as the Green Hornet,The Mummy’s Curse and also the Walt Disney cartoons, but the very first film that I remember seeing was Pinocchio. I was three and when Jiminy Cricket, one of the characters in the film asked, ‘Can you whistle?’ I was so immersed that I thought he was talking to me so I leaped to my feet and yelled. ‘Of course I can whistle.’ And I did. Very loudly. The lights went up, the ushers rushed toward me and the audience went mad with laughter. It was possibly then that the germ of an acting career buried itself into my psyche. I do remember being the kid everyone looked to for a laugh, I was pretty good on the punch line to a joke and by nine I had a fan club of sorts who told me. ‘Gee, you should be on radio.’ But if I’d breathed a word about ‘film acting’ at that time, I would have been drummed outta town.

I got my first acting gig at 12. I forget how I was ‘discovered’ but I do recall the local Lord Mayor, a lady, and she was a ‘real’ lady, Dame Ruby Litchfield came to my school and asked me to be a member of her cast in an upcoming Christmas play. It was to be performed at the Prospect Town Hall. But uncannily, even at such a young age, I had the negotiating skills one needs to be a success in the performance world and I told Lady Litchfield that I’d do the play if she introduced me to the selection committee at the highly esteemed Adelaide Repertory Theatre. She kept her word and probably within two months I was auditioning before a group of beret wearing, duffle coated and bespectacled theatricals with very serious faces who sat on the other side of a long trestle table.

What did I do, Shakespeare? Nah, couldn’t even pronounce his name. The kitchen sink dramas weren’t around by then. And Tennessee Williams wasn’t either, not as a playwright at least, so I did what impressed my buddies the most. I did my stand up routine, but I made it even bluer than it originally was.

At least I made the bastards sit up and take notice.

‘Hmmm,’ The ring leader said. ‘Anyone with the balls to do that routine, and do it so badly without the slightest hint of embarrassment, has to be an actor. Welcome aboard.’
So it was not a film career as of yet. It wasn’t even a paid gig. It was high class repertory theatre and bloody good training. I was then head-hunted to the Younger theatre Group where I played with people nearer my age and then moved on to the highly salubrious ‘Adelaide Shakespearians’.

Of course interspersed with this was paid gigs with visiting opera companies and Theatre Groups from the UK who picked up their extras, or supers as they were known, locally. I was also offered work with the Australian Broadcasting Commission on radio plays for schools. So I was finally ‘on radio’ and I was still only 14 years old. Luckily I was a big kid and a theatrical agent signed me to his books and taught me adagio dancing so as I could bring that into my routine. He also cleaned up my gags and booked me for variety shows, night clubs and concerts. I was not making a big dollar though, so I joined the Murdoch owned newspaper named The News and became a cadet reporter. So for the next four years I wrote articles for the paper and performed on radio and on the stage. The elusive film work that I was continually dreaming about seemed to be a lost cause. Very few of them were being made in Australia, and those that were had a full cast before ever arriving on our shores. So a film career seemed remote.

Things changed for the better though when my brother met a traveling New Zealand girl, became besotted, and followed her back to her home. Within two months I was knocking at his door. I had left my family, my News Ltd job and my theatrical contracts so as to chill in the middle of the north island of New Zealand and share time with Peter and his rough-and-ready in-laws. I did not perform for eight months. I did write though, as I had the beginnings of a novel I wanted to create and was putting that into perspective. After a few months swanning around New Zealand I decided to go to Tahiti to finish off the novel and then go onto England and to hopefully continue my acting career.
Tahiti turned out to be a Godsend as I had only been there a few hours when I ran across Marlon Brando in a street café. On the same night I met Dewey Martin, the Hollywood actor and all-time nice guy. Things were looking up.
I stayed in Tahiti, worked on various bits and pieces of film and television and also finished the novel which was entitled THE SET. I returned to Australia, sold the film rights and the film was released in 1970. However I did refuse to release the book in a published form because of the low money offered, but I did publish it this year. It holds up well in the new millennium and is a cross between Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives. It is available in America through Amazon.

After settling back in Australia, I began to take my acting seriously. There were still very few films being made, but of those that were, I was usually offered some sort of a role. Although television and the stage was creating a better income than the elusive film.

DR: I heard somewhere that you were once a professional wrestler. If this is true, what was your wrestling name and, most importantly, what was your finishing move?
RW: I took on wrestling by default. I had always trained with weights as being a naturally big guy, I wanted to round that out and utilize my size to gain work. So from an early start with weights I decided to study Martial Arts as another string to my performing bow, and a year or so after that I happened to be in the gym when an International wrestler came in for a bit of a pull-around prior to his match on the following eve. Seeing me, he asked me to step in with him. I’ve never backed down from a challenge so went in with him and we got stuck into it. It was a pretty willing affair. I had hoped it was finished when he vomited all over the ring, but no. He toweled himself down and came back at me with a vengeance. Fortunately, in one way at least, the promoter came in looking for his charge and found him hammering me and in turn being hammered by me, so he stood by and watched. Finally my opponent called it quits and the promoter leaped toward me and asked me to perform the following night. The money was good so I accepted. Unfortunately the opponent they gave me was an ex Olympian and bashed the shit out of me. But the audience loved it and I was booked for another bout a week hence. Despite the fact that I had spent a week in bed recuperating, I got up and went back for my second session. That time I was only confined to bed for three days. I must say I did enjoy the roar of the crowd and the theatricality of it, and continued on, between acting jobs as it were, to become part of the wrestling circuit.

I was called, by the flamboyant ring announcer, ‘Red Wing’, because I wore buckskin trousers and moccasins. This costume chosen because of the short notice between ‘discovery’ and performance and the name stuck as did the costume. Later they began to call me by my own name, but I felt uncomfortable with that as I felt it degraded my involvement in legit acting.
I stopped wrestling on a continuing basis for two reasons, the first was when my opponent died; I was not responsible, it was his overweight condition and a bad heart that killed him. The second was when I, after a dreadfully hard bout with an opponent who, despite the damage he had suffered, just would not go down, and I, being equally determined, continued beyond exhaustion to win. But despite getting the larger check, I spent over an hour on the bench, with a heart beat that barely registered and the fear of God racing through my veins. It was not worth it.

I still continued with my involvement as guest referee and sometimes as celebrity announcer, especially when the gig involved an overseas trip. I was recently asked to come out of retirement to appear on television with an old opponent, Mario Milano. Mario had written a book and was to appear on television to publicize it and asked me to ‘appear’ and challenge him in the old traditional way. Now I won’t tell you how old I was at the time but Mario was over 70 and still ‘believed’.
I told him no, I would not do it, as it is too degrading.
‘Degrading?’ Mario asked. ‘We will not degrade wrestling.’
‘No,’ I told him. ‘It is too degrading for me.’
It upset him so I accepted on the proviso that I wore a mask.

We arranged that Mario would bring up the subject of his book on wrestling and it was then that I would appear, I would insult him and we would have a couple of grapples and then they would go to commercial. Well I stood in the wings of that studio while Mario pontificated and talked and rambled on about his career and not once did he mention the book; he obviously got carried away with his own importance and I could see the audience were shuffling in boredom and could sense that the interviewer was about to close the interview. Mario had told me he would place a balsa wood chair near to him and that I was to pick it up and crack him over the head with it. When Mario still did not bring up the subject of the book, I leaped out from behind the woodwork in an executioners mask and shouted. ‘I hear tell you’ve written a book.’ It scared the hell out of the half asleep audience and it seemed to stir Mario into action as well. He leaped to his feet and with the sneer that he had perfected over the years said: ‘Yes I have written,’ as the interviewer fell off his own chair and crawled beneath a nearby table.
‘You couldn’t write your own name, let alone a goddamned book.’ I roared in retaliation and went to pick up the balsa wood chair, but the damned thing fell apart in the force that I had taken it, so I grabbed the chair that Mario had been sitting on and whacked him with that. It seemed to set something off in Mario and whether he thought he was back in Madison Square Garden or maybe he had a genuine dislike for me that had festered over the years, he utilized the moment and grabbed me with a strength I did not think he would still possess and he threw me into the orchestra. The band members fled as I hurtled through the air and to this day I can still see the band master's eyes as I approached him four feet above the floor at a very high speed. Mario leaped onto me and we wrestled and punched and staggered across the set. The audience were on their feet screaming and floor managers and cameramen were running around and between us. I was on my back receiving continual blows from Mario when I caught sight of the monitors and saw there was a commercial playing.

‘They’re showing a bloody commercial,’ I managed to say and Mario glanced across to the monitor, verified it and rose to lumber from the studio. I still have not purchased his book.
I don’t think I will. The assole.

You ask what is my finishing move, well, I would soften my opponent with a series of maneuvers and blows and then take him by the arm and throw him into the ropes. I would then turn and run to the opposite side and rebound to meet him with a high drop kick as he bounced toward me. This kick, usually contacting the chin, or throat or chest would send my man back to the ropes again. By the time he came back I was on the mat, ready to meet him with my feet aimed at his stomach or hips, as he hit my feet I would flip him to land on his back directly behind. I would then roll back in a somersault and land on his arms or shoulders with my knees and so hold him there for the count of three.

DR: How important was the Aussie exploitation - or "Ozploitation" - boom of the 70's to you and your career?
RW: It was a good time film wise, although I had been in constant work through television and theatre and the aforementioned wrestling and writing, so I was never desperate for a dollar. In fact that probably caused some people to dislike me or to treat me with a lack of respect, because I was never a fawning, ‘please give me a job’ type of guy. So I never revered or looked up to those that were in a position to offer work. I was there, I was available and if you wanted me, as long as the money was there, you got me. But a lot of producers and directors were frightened of working with me; I was unaware of it at the time but have since discovered it through hearsay and admittance. But I was a fairly wild boy, as were a lot of us during that time. We thought being hell raisers was the way to go and heck we did enjoy it too, but once I was on a set, and committed to the work, you could not get a more dedicated or sincere actor. But treat me wrong, or with disrespect and I was the biggest assole going. So I did lose a few jobs through failing to cow tow or bow to ridiculous demands or atrocious scripts, but nevertheless there were a few directors that knew me for the dedicated actor that I was and used me in their productions, but in retrospect, I wish I had savored those moments more. But I was the guy who had worked with Brando, Dewey Martin, Ray Milland, Barry Sullivan, Vera Miles, Robert Lansing, Ty Hardin. I’d written a film and television scripts, I was a pro wrestler, I wasn’t some eighteen year old starlet, I’d been around and I knew what I was doing. But I did treat the acceptance of those films as just another project. I never knew they would go on to become classics and cult hits. If I knew that, I guess I couldn’t have performed the role any better but at least it would have been nice to know that hey, this piece of shit is going to be revered and talked about in 40 years hence, so remember.

DR: Brian Trenchard-Smith was one of the key filmmakers at a time when the Australian film industry really broke through and got a lot of worldwide attention, and you were involved in some of his most memorable projects. Can you talk about your relationship with Brian, as far as how it developed and what it was like working with him?
RW: I am in the great position of being considered an old friend by Brian. I met him before he made his classics. He was of course the same talented guy and knew what he was capable of doing but had not been given the chance to do it as yet. So I worked with him on some very small jobs, doco’s and small films and we became a sort of gang. Brian, Grant Page, the late stuntman Bob Woodham and myself. And we worked and socialized and Brian never forgot me when he hit the jackpot and we pushed on to do the films that we did.

Brian Trenchard-Smith

DR: Speaking of Brian Trenchard-Smith, one of my favorite things about TURKEY SHOOT was your character, and it had a lot to do with how well your intimidating presence translated into creating such a natural and memorable villain. Was this a fun character for you to play?
RW: Strangely, in order to go to location of TURKEY SHOOT, which was shot in far north Queensland, I decided to drive up with my two kids, Nikolas and Vanessa, and spend the time popping into various tourist resorts along the way, so we set out three weeks before I was due to arrive and we had a ball. Swimming, surfing, boating. I had grown the moustache that I sported, but had not as yet shaved my head. We were in a place called Airley Beach and having an absolute blast when a phone call came from my agent telling me things had changed and that I was needed on set that very day. I was 400 miles from location and there was a plane strike. I bundled the kids into the car and we set off. I knew I could not make it in time for shooting that day, but was determined to reach the location before sundown. We did make it and were immediately swept into the mystery and joy that became TURKEY SHOOT. My head was shaved, my moustache darkened, the kids signed up to become extras and the next day I was ‘Ritter’ the assole from hell. And by hell I enjoyed that role. It was a great time.

DR: I understand Brian got the carpet yanked out from under him on the production side of things while making TURKEY SHOOT. Did this setback have any significant effect on you and the other actors?
RW: I was not influenced or worried about any set backs. I was in far north Queensland, I had my kids with me, I had underwater gear and surfboards and the sun was shining. Any delays were welcomed with open arms. As far as the other actors were concerned, if they bitched on or complained, it washed over me. I cannot stand complaining actors and a lot of them have that propensity. Just do the effing job and forget the politics, it's not your place or right to get involved.
I still hear complaints about not getting paid on that shoot. Bullshit! My money hit the bank five days after wrap, and that included an extra thousand dollars for shaving my head. Hell I would have shaved my legs too, for that sort of money.

DR: What are your memories of working on STONE? I'm a big fan of biker movies from the 70's, and it's certainly one of the most unique and strangest I've seen of the genre.
RW: Nothing but good memories of riding a mo’bike, of great comradeship, of fun times with the glamorous girls we used, of smoking pot and having a goddamned blast. Only thing that annoyed me was, I was working on stage at nights in a two year run, and had to dress in a tuxedo for the three hour gig, so there were no permanent earrings, no 24/7 of grease and mud and denim. It was a mixture of life styles that spoilt the shoot in a way.

DR: Speaking of STONE, can you briefly talk about Hugh Keays-Byrne? You worked with him on at least three films that I can think of, including MAD MAX, and he seems like an interesting guy.
RW: Hugh is a lovely guy, I met him at first on STONE. He was naturally a little reticent, a little shy as he had only just arrived in this country. Then of course we got to know each other a little better on MAN FROM HONG KONG. It was then that I got to know he had a lighter side to his character. I didn’t see a great deal of him on MAD MAX or the other films we’ve done together, but we are very close now. He has proven to be a loyal and good friend over the years. A great actor who should be doing far more than he is.

Roger Ward, Jimmy Wang Yu, and Hugh Keays-Byrne in MAN FROM HONG KONG

Hugh Keays-Byrne as Toecutter in MAD MAX

DR: When I think of Australian exploitation cinema, respectfully, reckless filmmaking comes to mind, so I have to ask: what is the absolute craziest or most dangerous thing you've ever seen on a film set?
RW: We’ve done some dreadful things on set, especially during the early days before the stuntmen became official and created their own union and had safety men on set. In the early days we were jumping off buildings onto empty boxes. Firing live rounds to get what they use special effects for these days. Driving in a stunt manner on normal and open roads. Swimming in shark infested waters. Fighting without choreography. But I think one of the stupidest things I have ever done was a fall in QUIGLEY. They did not have a stuntman to cover me, so they asked if I would do a backward fall from the top of a sand dune. They offered me a thousand bucks in the hand, so I said yes. Luckily I warmed up, especially in the neck area as the stunt called for me to be hit by a falling log that took me over the cliff. As I said, I warmed up and stood at the top of the almost sheer cliff face while two wranglers held the log, one at each end. They did the one, two, three thing and then slammed the log into my stomach. It hit with such force that it sent me over the edge and turned me in a back flip, so that I landed on the slightly inclined cliff face on the back of my neck. My body folded over my neck so that I was almost like a question mark? With the log in the centre. Not wishing to do the gig again, even if they offered a further grand, I just lay there, unmoving, and a deathly silence overcame the set. I heard a tremulous, ‘Cut’ from Simon Wincer, the director, and then heard running steps and sliding feet as the crew came down to look at me. ‘Roger, are you alright?’, I heard, but being the bastard that I am, I refused to answer. ‘Oh God!’, I heard. ‘He’s gone.’ I gave them a few more moments of anguish before asking, with difficulty, because of the positioning of my body. ‘Did you get the shot?’ The relief I heard from the crew was tremendous. It was nice to know they cared.

DR: Most people probably know you from MAD MAX, but are there any obscure or under-seen movies from your body of work that you feel should have gotten more attention?
RW: I have done a lot of work that hardly anyone knows about. For instance in my early days I did a stack of Shakespeare on television, but these were live broadcasts that have gone into the ether, never to be seen again. I have done some short films in which I have done some of my better work as well. But really, I cannot think of any film that has work in it that I consider better than the other. I have always been the guy that once committed will give you the best manner in which the character should be played. Maybe someone will give it a different slant, but what you see with me is always a professional job. I must say though that I have been fired from gigs, but certainly not for giving a bad performance. I once did a series of very lucrative cigarette commercials where I sang along to my own recorded voice to a cartoon background. Very exacting and hard work. I prerecorded six of them before the company put them before a test market. Now, I have always said a test market audience feel obligated to say something, good or bad, and I feel they are a waste of time and that the producer should go with their own interpretation or gut feeling. Anyway, these idiots came out of the viewing room determined to tell the world that I was a murderer and a rapist. This opinion garnered through their memory of me playing those parts, with obvious conviction, on their silver screen. So the producer threw his arms in the air, said he could not have someone with that profile selling his wares and immediately pulled the plug. He tried not to pay me even. He did pay, and paid well, but six months later went out of his way to apologize and to tell me how great my performance was and how dastardly was my replacement who was so bad that they pulled his advertisements within 3 weeks of airing.

Another time I was offered the lead in a movie that had been written specifically for me by the writer. I was all set to go when the director, a first-timer at that stage by the name of Phillip Noyce decided he wanted an actor with a larger profile. I asked who he intended to get, and ‘Marlon Brando?’ was my sarcastic suggestion. The producer said they still wanted me in the film but not in that particular role. I refused to do another role, but they came back with an extension of the part and equal money to what I would have received for the lead. I reluctantly agreed, but it was during the period prior to MAD MAX where I was growing the moustache I was to use for Fifi, and intended to start MAD MAX immediately after I completed this one. So when I turned up on set for the filming, Phillip, obviously feeling his balls said: ‘Get rid of the moustache.’ I refused. ‘Shave the fuzz or you can take a walk.’ Nice one, Phil, this is your first fucking film, you’ve just come out of film school and you’re talking to this actor like he’s a piece of shit. ‘I’ll take a walk alright,’ I told Adolf Noyce. ‘But you’ll pay me every penny you’re contracted to pay.’

‘You’ll walk and there’ll be no pay.’

By then Richard Brennan, the Producer, had heard the commotion and raced onto the set. He tried to calm us but to no avail. Anyway, the upshot was I did not do the film, but I was paid every penny I was contracted to receive. It has a sad but happy ending. Six months later while in Cannes at the festival, I came across Philip and Richard and they were all over me like a rash. Buying me beers and Phillip going to the extent of offering me an apology. I refused and told him so in no uncertain manner. Then I took his arm and pulled him onto the main drag. I pointed out a large billboard of the film. It had larger than life size photo’s of the lead character that I should have played. ‘That should be me up there’, I told Phillip.
‘I know’, he said in a strange bout of contrition. ‘And he’s the weakest link in the entire fucking film.’

Noyce has never used me in any of his many future productions, but I’m sure I’m the only actor to whom the egotistical assole has ever deemed to apologize.

DR: Is there a character you've played that you feel best represents that real Roger Ward?
RW: Possibly my first ever major role in television, ‘The Wild Cockatoo’. A well-dressed married guy, tough, athletic, reliable, a devoted father and husband. But nudging on the wild side.

Roger Ward's THE SET, available on Amazon

Synopsis: Tony was really the only one who had it all from birth. A privileged upbringing, an architectural career offered on a plate. All that was ever asked of him was to live a conventional life, but he could not comply. The story follows the lives of five Australian teenagers and their battle to be accepted by their peers. Set in the 1960s amongst the backdrop of parental rebellion, sexual experimentation and individuals struggling to forge careers, The Set is an Antipodean Peyton Place with a touch of television s Desperate Housewives. Previously unpublished, The Set became a controversial motion picture in 1970, in an era when homosexuality was a taboo subject in Australia. It tackles the issues teenagers faced and is a true insight into uncertain times. This edition has been updated and edited for modern audiences.

DR: Your novel, THE SET, has finally been published after approximately four decades. First of all, congratulations. Secondly, what took so long?
RW: I could have published 40 years ago, but I had just sold the film rights and was feeling rather important and also a little flush with money. So the offers that were given seemed like peanuts compared to the years it had taken to complete so I refused. To give you some idea of why I refused, I was offered $50 to serialize the book in a newspaper, and the royalties offered by one publisher were 40 cents a book. Give me a goddamned break.

DR: What inspired you to write a novel about certain topics that were - at the time - considered to be very taboo and controversial? Also, were any of the characters in your novel based on people you knew, or were they based solely on observations you made in certain countercultures at the time?
RW: I chose the subject matter of THE SET for controversial reasons, and also because I wanted the general public to know about these subjects, the innermost thoughts, the activities. But also for the entertainment value of what my characters did and how they did it. Some were based on real people slightly altered, others were figments of my imagination. The book was a contemporary novel written in the fifties and sixties. Now it is an historical document or diary of the times and is of tremendous interest to those who lived during that time and to those who want to know.

DR: Long before it was published, THE SET was adapted into a film of the same name. You've gone on record as stating that the film didn't really represent the story as well as you had hoped. Was this because you didn't have any creative input on the film as it was being produced, or was it because the people involved just didn't really get what you were trying to say with the novel?
RW: I do not think any writer is happy with the adaptation of his book. My book was nearly 800 pages long, I sold the film rights and was asked to create a film play of 130 pages. Do the sums. It's like making a decision to cut the legs or the arms off your new born babe. I could not do it, so the producer drew a red line through every page that he wanted me to use for the film play. It was every indication of homosexual activities that I had strung, as a thread, through the book. It was not the book that I had written, it was a part of the book that I had written, and although it caused controversy and a massive box office and is still being shown at festivals around the world, I am not happy because the script that I did write was doctored and botched by not only the producer and a writer that he hired in my absence, but also by his 23 year old wife, who had never even written a letter prior to fucking up my piece of work.

DR: Are you aware of any plans for the film to be released on DVD?
RW: I am in talks with a Umbrella Films, but really, if the film never saw the light of day again, I would not be fussed. It was not the film it should have been. It will be, but the one already made is not.

DR: Do you have any other unpublished works or other books that you're currently writing? An autobiography perhaps?
RW: Despite being an arrogant self promoter when it comes to my acting work or my seeking of it, I am reasonably shy when it comes to writing. So it is not well known that I am quite prolific in that area. I have written another film that no one seems to know about: BROTHERS is set in Timor and New Zealand; yet again that started off as a novel and was sold before publication. Although this time I was not falling into the trap that I fell into with THE SET and when the shit began to hit the fan regarding co-writing and add-ons from the producer, I cut my losses and took my name from the film play. I still received a credit ‘from the novel by’, but there was no way I was going to be credited with the bad dialogue and scenes that were being created while I was not there to supervise or edit. I have also written a 13 part television series for children and many segments of children’s programs for television. I also have a few projects sold and with producers as we speak. I was also sent to Paris by the Australian Film Commission to co-write a film with a French Film body.

As far as novels are concerned I have a further three, a trilogy regarding the activities and adventures of two brothers who are war correspondents. The first, ‘Growl Like a Tiger’ is set in Iraq and New Zealand, the second, ‘Roar Like the Proverbial’ is set in New Zealand and Tahiti, and the third, ‘Scream Like a Banshi’ is set in New York and back to Iraq. They are highly filmic work and I have no doubt I shall sell them for film, but this time I want to publish first, and with this in mind will be seeking out a publisher very shortly. This time I want to go with an American publishing company because of their pro-active stance and go-getting attitude.
I also have a memoir, completed up until today. It is entitled, ‘In Bed with Brando, Memoirs of an Invisible Man.’ It covers my life and the industry over the years. It is quite insightful and gives a good background of the industry.

DR: Roger, before we wrap this up I'd like to ask you about one of your newest films, BAD BEHAVIOUR. The trailer looks really interesting. Can you shed some light on the film and the character you play in it?
RW: When I was first offered the part of Voyt by the 20 year old director and writer, I felt like I did when I first read MAD MAX. It had the same boldness, the same thumb your nose attitude. Although it did not have the stunts and outdoor activities offered by MAD MAX, I still felt the content would be gripping. My part was reasonably small in the scheme of things, but I was offered a piece of the action and a healthy fee, so I accepted. It was a breath of fresh air to work on, and the youngsters that made up the majority of the cast and crew were delightful and all of us still communicate like the friends that we have now become. But despite the film winning awards and accolades along the way, it has still not received a distributor and is languishing in the bottom drawer so to speak. I really do hope it gets out there soon, as it was a great part for me to play and it’s a pity for such a body of work, mine and the others, to go unrecognized.

DR: Finally, do you have anything you'd like to say to your fans out there?
RW: Yes, I do. I really appreciate the comments and the howdy doodies I get from all over the world. One would not know of the enjoyment he has given others if it were not for the internet, because we are all so accessible now, and the people who have seen the work and feel inclined to express their comment can do so without too much effort. It is great pleasure to receive the words from you all out there. It makes one realize that the work he did even 20, 30, and 40 years ago has given someone out there some small amount of pleasure. Thank you, and don’t be a stranger now. I love reading your comments.
Now go out and buy my bloody book.

DR: Mr. Ward, it's been an honor. Thank you for your time.
RW: It was my pleasure, Aaron, It’s people like you that give us the voice we need in order to issue our gratitude to those that have appreciated our work. I’m available to you at any time.

Purchase Roger Ward's "The Set" on Amazon US or Amazon UK
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  1. Great interview, Aaron! I've not seen too many of Mr Ward's films, but am always keen to explore 'ozploitation' in all its glory.
    He seems like an interesting chap, a real genre vet too - some fantastic little anecdotes here.
    I also had no idea he'd written a book! Must keep an eye out for that one.
    Now where'd I put my copy of Mad Max again!?

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Great stuff, Aaron! I especially enjoyed the part with Ward and Mario Milano. Milano was one of Chen Kuan Tai's nemesis's in Chang Cheh's hugely influential classic, THE BOXER FROM SHANTUNG (1972).

  3. James: Thanks! Roger has some great films. I highly recommend STONE if you haven't seen that one.

    Brian: Very interesting. I'm gonna have to check that one out at some point.