ACTOR Aaron Glenane is immensely proud of the diversity highlighted in Ride Like A Girl with Stevie Payne portrayed in such a natural way.
Glenane portrays jockey-trainer Patrick Payne, older brother to Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle and strapper Stevie, in the film set to make its regional premiere in Ballarat on Sunday.
Ride Like a Girl is a particularly special project for Glenane, not just because the story is based in his hometown, but also because his younger sister Kez who, like Stevie, has Down Syndrome.
Glenane quips Kez is more well-known about Ballarat than he for her sporting success in the pool and entrepreneurial skills, particularly as a photographer.
"When I read the script I thought, 'oh man, (Stevie) is really well written'," said Glenane, speaking to The Courier from his home in Los Angeles. "I think it's also important for to be on screen too, for other kids with disabilities, to see someone with Down Syndrome.
"For so many kids, their favourite character might be Spiderman or other superheroes. Hopefully when they watch this film they look at Stevie and think, he looks like me and I get him."
Hopefully when they watch this film they look at Stevie and think, he looks like me and I get him.
Michelle Payne has also told The Courierhow "perfect" filmmakers had captured Stevie in the story.
Watch the official movie trailer below
Glenane enjoyed exploring the family dynamics in the film, particularly playing opposite Teresa Palmer as Michelle. While the film is about Michelle's 2015 Cup win, Ride Like A Girl is also about challenges the family faces.
"It was great getting to learn about Patrick as a jockey in his own right, he won the Cox Plate in 2002, and going on to be an amazing trainer. You could see the relationship (with Michelle) was tough love of an older brother," Glenane said. "He wouldn't let her off the hook and would push her to the brink of her capability."
Glenane was in Los Angeles when Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup. He found out a couple of hours later and watched a replay right through to her getting back, hugging Stevie and delivering what is now her famous "get stuffed" speech to all who doubted a female jockey could win the Cup.
"It's so Australian but really speaks to the now and the time," Glenane said. "Even seeing the (AFLW footballer) Tayla Harris statue go up this week and everything she's done since the photo. It shows opportunity for what people can do."
Glenane reached out to Michelle when he got the role asking, as a fellow Ballaratian, whether he could spend time with her at the track. His dad was a potato farmer but his riding experience was limited. The experience, watching Michelle through trial races and preparations, was an glimpse into what he said was an intense lifestyle.
This was a role Glenane said he really wanted from the moment he picked up the script and read about Loreto College, up the road from his school Ballarat High, and scenes in Miners Rest, a short drive from where he grew up in Ballarat North.
Ride Like A Girl is not the first time Ballarat has crossed into Glenane's acting career.
Glenane also stars in Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, released last month, that brings to life one of the most savage battles in Australian military history. Buninyong's Major Bill Akell was then a 21-year-old army private and signaller for Delta company, whose personal role is depicted in the movie.
"I did not know he was in Buninyong until in the lead-up. That film is another amazing story and done so well," Glenane said. "People are only just learning what men did for us 50 years ago - the US acknowledged it before the Australian government even thought about it.
"...I'd be going to war memorials and see Battle of Long Tan and thought that must've been a big battle. To be able to represent those guys is very unique. It's good when stories are brought out from under the surface.A lot of the time people don't know about it but it takes guys like Bill and harry Smith banging doors down.
"It's important to remember history."
Glenane's upcoming work takes on a cli-fi twist - a climate change based science-fiction genre. Australia film 2067 also features Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ryan Kwanten and Deborah Mailman. He will also star in television series Snowpiecer, filmed in Vancouver.
Ride Like A Girl opens nationally September 26.
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