Even before the world premiere of Paperback Hero in Sydney on March 24, 1999, the film
has elicited positive reactions from the industry and media around the world. "The
biggest response to it," says its writer and director, Antony J. Bowman, is
"always to do with the characters and the actors Ė how real and unsentimental
After a London screening in December 1998 for a select handful of industry guests,
Bowman was approached to direct a screen adaptation of Love Ė A Userís Guide;
"itís an unusual romantic comedy by UK writer Frederick Raphael (Eyes Wide
"the cool romantic charm of its Australian ethos."
Many who have seen Paperback Hero praise its freshness and its engaging story, the
terrific performances and the cool romantic charm of its Australian ethos.
As for negative responses, Bowman grins sheepishly: "I wish I could say there had
been something negative, just to put it in balance, but people are really getting the fact
that itís big Ė in its exposure of Australia, yet itís really
The world premiere, with stars Hugh Jackman and Claudia Karvan in attendance, will
always stay in Antony J. Bowmanís memory as a major milestone. It comes more than
eight years after he first began creating the screenplay, and after several frustrations
What kept him going was a determination to make a romantic comedy but one which he felt
was somehow more "truthful" and real. "I was born in Sydney but I lived in
the country until I was 13 and I am very aware of the truth you find in country people.
Itís like Australians used to be before they were urbanised. I like the idea of a
truck driver - which may sound like a clichť, unless heís writing a romance novel.
And I like the idea of a strong young woman. So itís a story set in an old fashioned
romantic comedy structure but with modern people. And it has some serious twists."
Turning the drawn out process to his advantage, Bowman polished and refined the script
endlessly, until "it was one of the best screenplays Iíve read in the past 10
years or so," says producer Lance Reynolds. The characters are all well defined,
avoiding the cardboard cutouts that some romantic comedies rely on as the dispensable
lover or occasional friend. Bowman wanted full bloodied Australian characters, and that
included the women.
"I canít tell you how good they are" on
"It was very important from the start that the female characters are as strong and
well defined as the male characters," he says. That was a key reason why Penguin
grabbed the novelisation rights.
Bowman raves about his actors: "I canít tell you how good they are Ė
theyíve all added so much more to the characters I created, and they have taken them
up as their own."
Karvan plays Ruby vale, crop dusting bush chick and long time friend of Jack (Jackman)
the truckdriver cum-novelist. Bowmanís wife, Jeanie Drynan (Murielís Wedding),
plays Suzie, Rubyís friend, Andrew Gilbert (Kiss or Kill) play the vet engaged to
Ruby, and Angie Milliken (Dead Heart) plays publisherís publicist, Ziggy. The
incredible Barry Rugless does a notable cameo as Mad Pete, and a dog called Benny plays
Jackís buddy, a dog called Lance (the producerís name).
Incidentally, itís also a quite a crew: cinematographer David Burrís camera
operator is Richard Merryman, who does all of Kevin Costnerís camera work. Burr,
often likened to John Seale for both the quality of his work and his can-do attitude, has
already done quite a bit in Hollywood. (During the outback shoot, Burr confessed that he
was missing having access to Urban Cinefile; the satellite dish on the roof of the
filmís Boomerang Cafť was fake.)
Costume designer is Louise Wakefield, who designed the costumes on Shine, Doing Time
for Patsy Cline, and assisted on Babe. Production Designer is Jon Dowding, who has worked
on many good looking films, from Mad Max to Diana & Me.
"It was hearing his score for The Truman Show.. that
made us approach him" on Burkhard Dallwitz' music
As for Burkhard Dallwitzís music, Bowman says he is "awfully proud of it. It
was hearing his score for The Truman Show [for which Dallwitz won a Golden Globe Award]
that made us approach him."
Now, finally, Paperback Hero is made; it is engaging, entertaining and invigoratingly
Australian, without the clichťs.