Combustible Celluloid

Interview with Paul Hogan

Paul Hogan in San Francisco

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Paul Hogan Movies on DVD

Paul Hogan has become an international superstar based on one character. It's true he's made other movies, like Flipper and Lightning Jack, but people only remember 'Crocodile' Dundee. When the original movie was released in 1986, it caused a huge jump in Australian tourism, and it added a catchphrase, "that's not a knife!" to our language. Hogan was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

A sequel was quickly released in 1987, and though it was far inferior to the original, it had enough momentum that it earned a reasonable sum. Now Hogan and his team are gambling that the rugged Crocodile Dundee, looking great at age 60, still has a draw 14 years later, with his new film Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.

Crocodile Dundee is fond of saying, "no worries," and Hogan echoes that sentiment. "Film-wise, it's been ten years, but Crocodile Dundee was on television here within the last month, and probably for the fifth time this year. It's on every month in America. It's on now somewhere in the world. Might be on in India right now. But it's the most re-licensed movie of the last 20 years. It's not like everyone's forgotten the character. He's a bit older and more weather-beaten, but he was never young and cute anyway."

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles offers a refreshingly old-fashioned style of moviemaking with nothing in the way of special effects or digital enhancements. Well, except maybe one little thing. "I'll tell you what we did do with special effects. This is really weird. The only really digital effect we did. When [Mick and Jacko] go into the gay bar and the two bare-ass cowboys follow 'em in? Well, in America they've got pink underpants on and in the rest of the world, they're bare ass. They had thongs on, but they said 'if you leave that in there, you can't get a PG.' You can see it on any beach! But we had to put underpants on them. It's unbelievable! Only in America."

Though Hogan contributed to the screenplays for all three movies, he doesn't brag about his writing skills. "It's not a tight, plot-driven ship. It's a comedy. It's a knockaround Mick Dundee for an hour and half, basically... looking at the world the way he does. That's sort of what the Crocodile Dundee movies are about. The plots for the first two weren't hall-of-fame stuff. There are no holes in them: 'Where did they go? The butler didn't do it! But they're not plot-driven, either. They're not Mission: Impossible where you've gotta pay attention and if you missed a set you didn't know what was going on."

Strangely enough, the first two Crocodile Dundee movies feature quotation marks around the word "Crocodile," and the new film doesn't. "I'll tell you what that was. I came here with a movie we made in Australia, and it was a big success there and we brought it over here for distribution. We went to Paramount and they said, 'it's not a good idea to call it Crocodile Dundee. We've come up with a few titles.' They had From Down Under to Up Over or From Over There to Here. They had all these awful titles. I said, 'don't be stupid... it's Crocodile Dundee. What's wrong with that?' And they said, 'Well, it doesn't usually work to have the lead character's name in the title.' Their number one movie that was out at the moment was Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I said, 'oh, you mean like Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Or like Rambo or Rocky? Is that what you mean?' So they went and had another marketing conference and they came back and said, 'we'll put the quotations around "Crocodile" and then people will know it's a nickname and it's not all about crocodiles.' We sort of went, 'OK... whatever makes you happy.' Now they figured, 'ah, it's Crocodile Dundee. We know it's a person.' And you wonder why I don't like working in the system."

April 6, 2001

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