'The True Story of the Kelly Gang' film hosts casting call in Clunes

Bushranger bash: The large line for 'The True Story of the Kelly Gang' extra casting call in Clunes on Sunday. Ken and Christine Curnow, descendants of schoolteacher Thomas Curnow, look on. Picture: Dylan Burns
Bushranger bash: The large line for 'The True Story of the Kelly Gang' extra casting call in Clunes on Sunday. Ken and Christine Curnow, descendants of schoolteacher Thomas Curnow, look on. Picture: Dylan Burns

Looks like the notorious Kelly Gang just gained a few members.

A Clunes casting call for the big budget remake of The True Story of the Kelly Gang had lines trailing out the door on Sunday, as Hollywood hopefuls vied for a spot as an extra in a Federation Day dance scene. 

Australian actor Russell Crowe has been cast as Australian bushranger Harry Power, mentor to a young Ned Kelly, for the film based on Peter Carey’s novel. 

For Bendigo residents Ken and Christine Curnow, it was a distant family connection which led them to the Clunes casting call.

Dressed for success: Christine and Ken Curnow want to be extras in The True Story of the Kelly Gang, which had a casting call in Clunes on Sunday. Picture: Dylan Burns

Dressed for success: Christine and Ken Curnow want to be extras in The True Story of the Kelly Gang, which had a casting call in Clunes on Sunday. Picture: Dylan Burns

They are decedents of schoolteacher Thomas Curnow, who famously escaped the siege at Glenrowan and ran down the railway tracks waving a candle behind a red scarf, to warn police trains of their potential derailment. 

“It was the Ned Kelly folk lore that got me,” Mrs Curnow said.

“Years ago, my dad was an extra in All The Rivers Run, which was pretty wow. I always wondered if I could ever be in something, so when this came up, and I said, ‘you don’t know until you have a go’.”

Fifteen-year-old Ballarat student Jasper Magri, an aspiring actor and St Patrick’s College student, said he hoped to be an extra in the film to “gain a lot of knowledge and experience from the other actors”.

“This is what I want to do in the future … it’d be a really cool experience,” he said. 

English actor George McKay is set to play the titular role, while Australian actress Essie Davis of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries-fame is also on board. 

Clunes has hosted film crews for the Tomorrow When The War Began series, the recent Picnic at Hanging Rock adaptation and the 2003 Heath Ledger-helmed Ned Kelly. 

Hepburn Shire Cameron Ward councillor Neil Newitt said the city’s “remarkable” goldfields architecture and streetscapes, wide boulevards and accessibility to Melbourne made it an “ideal location” to film. 

“Whenever Clunes has been featured in movie or mini-series and it screens, we have a lot visitors coming here as a destination,” he said. “It has that flow-on effect to economic good for the community.”

Shot at fame: Kieley Magri and her son Jasper, 15, pictured lining up for the film extra casting call at The Warehouse in Clunes. Picture: Dylan Burns

Shot at fame: Kieley Magri and her son Jasper, 15, pictured lining up for the film extra casting call at The Warehouse in Clunes. Picture: Dylan Burns

“It’s important that we as council and other authorities maintain these heritage buildings for the benefit for the local communities, but also now as potential film locations.”