I did not want to put myself on the line as an Australian playing Britain’s greatest comic actor. The fans of Sellers are obsessive possessive – and aggressive. I did not want to risk their anger – or my own reputation.
I went to England in the ’70s and I was in my early 20s. There was still a residue of that era of being an underclass or colonial. I assume it must have been a more aggressive and prominent attitude 40 years before that because Australia internationally wasn’t regarded as having much cultural value. We were a country full of sheep and convicts.
Within our culture every school has a swimming pool. We lived on the coast. People swam in the surf. It’s a very sporty nation and at that particular time anyone who had an artistic bent was very much an outsider. So if you liked reading or ideas or playing the piano then your dad viewed you as a sissy basically.
You had to be into sport and sad to say I’m a traitor to my country because I don’t have a sporting bone in my body.
My kids started school so having a strong base in Melbourne has been a key priority. I’m not daunted by the travel. People say ‘It’s so far to Australia’ and I say ‘You get on the plane you eat well you sleep you wake up – and you’re there.’