This week sees the opening of the New Zealand comedy Pork Pie in Australian cinemas. A remake of the cult classic Goodbye Pork Pie (1980), Pork Pie is an update for today by the son of the original director. To celebrate DAVID O’CONNELL spoke to star Dean O’Gorman, about the film, his career, and of course, the car that is a big part of both films – the iconic mini.
With the car featuring so prominently in the film, part of the publicity tour was to drive in the length of New Zealand with a Mini, and to be joined by clubs and enthusiasts along the way (many of whom had been involved with and supported the film). Hence when we spoke to O’Gorman he was on the road, driving one of the remaining cars from the shoot.
What prompted O’Gorman to be part of this promotion was easy. “I wanted to drive the mini,” stated O’Gorman. “We had four in the actual shoot and this was one of the surviving ones. I did a fair amount of the driving; obviously the stunts are the stunt drivers, and they’re doing it better than I am. Plus they’re insured to do it, and I’m not.”
Hence Pork Pie has a number of great action set pieces involving car stunts. The highlight being a chase through Wellington, and a rather spectacular train jump. A lot of these sequences involve the actors seemingly participating in the stunt, through a bit of mechanical trickery. “We had this amazing rig. The stunt driver would sit on the roof and drive the car, while me and James (Rolleston) were in the car. So it looked like we were doing all the stunt…we weren’t. We were just in the car when it was happening.”
Although, not everything with the updated car was smooth sailing. “The new minis were so electronic we had to short circuit them to do what we wanted, otherwise it would keep giving a warning beep.”
The cars were not the only things to gain a makeover in this remake. O’Gorman, Rolleston and Ashleigh Cummings all had a lot of latitude to develop a different dynamic from their 1980s counterparts. “We had a lot of freedom with the characters. Allowed us to play around and develop our chemistry together. Some of the most fun I’ve had on a film. I didn’t see the original till after filming, as I didn’t want to emulate the original. It’s a contemporary update, more relevant now.”
Through his career to date, O’Gorman has played a wide range of characters from a Norse god (The Almighty Johnsons), to a questing dwarf (The Hobbit), to an icon of the silver screen (Trumbo). Pork Pie, however, gave him something he had never experienced before. A truly unique way to introduce his character to the audience, and make a first impression. “Farting under a blanket is a great way to enter a script, and I’ll fight to do that in any future project. It’s actually a good character stamp. Jon’s lost. His creative endeavours aren’t working, and he’s blown it with his fiance. During the course of the film he comes to the realisation of his own selfishness, and can work on fixing that.”
In part that was why the director cast O’Gorman. Due to a number of his previous roles on New Zealand TV O’Gorman has an uncanny ability to play a “screw up” that the audience would still love. “I like playing screw ups. Whether the audience still likes me is out of my hands. I’ve found that the less likeable a character is, the more they like them. They can smell if you’re trying to ingratiate myself to them. I really enjoyed playing Jon, it’s good playing a fuck up.”