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Australian actor Robert Mammone is about to make a pact with agents in Los Angeles, as his work in The Great Raid and Matrix 2 & 3 move closer to release; it’s a critical time for the actor, as Andrew L. Urban discovers, as his latest film, The Pact premieres in Sydney.

There is some sort of symbolism – perhaps a portent – in the fact that Robert Mammone’s first movie role as the gentle Sam in The Crossing, with Russell Crowe, is the absolute polar opposite of his latest character as the psycho Wilga in The Pact, with Sigrid Thornton. The week before The Pact’s packed premiere (November 20, 2002) at Sydney’s Warriewood, Mammone was in Hollywood, meeting Miramax executives and some “prominent agents” in what may prove to be a watershed trip in his career.

"even the smallest confluences can be important"

In the fragile world of the acting business, even the smallest confluences can be important. Mammone, 12 years older and wiser since The Crossing, has also recently completed work on the big budget Hollywood drama, The Great Raid, directed by the great John Dahl. “John installed a calmness on set,” says Mammone, “when it could have been mayhem. All the cast were a joy to work with, too.” The cast includes Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, Connie Nielsen and a host of Australians.

Mammone plays Dr Jimmy Fisher, the Ranger trained head surgeon of Charlie Company – and it’s the buzz about this war movie that is providing extra wing under Mammone’s career wing.

But perhaps he should tuck a copy of The Pact under his arm now, the privately financed Australian thriller in which he stars with Sigrid Thornton, Peter O’Brien, Basia A’Hern, and Grant Dodwell. Mammone plays an edgy, psychologically disturbed man who insists on fulfilling a pact made between him and three other teenagers 15 years previously, on top of a speeding train which they were surfing. The extreme pastime cost his sister’s life, and he went to jail as a result. Now he’s intent on making the survivors honour their pact. Sigrid Thornton plays Susie, now a single mother who was on that train top. She has almost forgotten the pact … but Wilga reminds her in ugly fashion.

Mammone’s performance is a stand out of controlled menace: Anthony Hopkins would be proud of it. “Wilga’s a man on a mission,” he says of the role. “He sets out to right some wromngs. He’s a bit delusional about that though. He thinks if he makes good on the 15 year old pact he’ll feel relieved… guilt is pouring out of his skin and this is how he feels he can get rid of it, even if some people get hurt along the way.”

"a top director"

Expat Australian Strath Hamilton directed the film for maverick producer Phil Avalon, and Mammone has nothing but praise for him. “He’s a top director; I’ll work with him anywhere, anytime. He understands every aspect of his work and knows how to get the best out of actors. The key is that he’s happy to allow actors to use what they come up with – and he adapts it very well.”

As well as The Great Raid and The Pact, Mammone can show agents in Los Angeles his work as AK in Matrix 2 and 3. “AK – named after a rifle – is a computer genius responsible for sending people to and from the Matrix…if people need to be exited quickly,” he adds with a grin. 

“It was huge,” says of working on the sequels: “You can’t get bigger, except maybe Star Wars.” He spent a month in San Francisco on the set. “My first day on set, I’ve never been so excited ever before. You can also feel like a pawn but I’d remind myself of the movie I’m in. We all felt that way . . .especially the other Aussies like Lachy Hulme, Steve Bastoni, David Roberts and the others.”

Published November 21, 2002

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Robert Mammone


Sigrid Thornton and Robert Mammone.

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