Paul Hogan walks into the 8th floor conference room of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel like he's still outdoors. He has a long stride and before sitting down in an Edwardian chair at the heavy, decorative mahogany table, he scrutinizes the posh surroundings as if surveying a broad landscape.
"'Allo," he says warmly in that famously hardy Aussie twang, reaching out for an introductory handshake. It's readily apparent that his status as a world-famous movie star isn't something he takes too seriously. He radiates such a regular guy vibe that you half expect him to suggest we duck out of this hoity joint and find a friendly pub to talk in.
But Hogan does know why he's here. After a 13-year hiatus, he's made another "Crocodile Dundee" flick, this time dropping the still-backwards Outbacker into the prefabricated pretension of Los Angeles for a backlot Hollywood adventure in behind-the-scenes movie madness. It's called "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles."
Casual (in a brown tweed jacket, corduroy shirt and tan jeans), but not entirely comfortable being at the receiving end of a barrage of questions about himself (he listens to questions closely, but prefers concise answers whenever possible), Hogan hasn't an ounce of egotism about him. What he does have is an unadorned, leathery charisma and such a friendly voice that even his one-word replies seem spirited and musing in a way that may not entirely come across in print.
So put on your best "g'day" accent and read aloud if it helps, as we start this interview with the obvious question...
|Q: Your last film was in '96. What have you been doing since then?|
A: Nothing! [Smiles.] Self-imposed exile. I've been living in Santa Barbara, Australia and Colorado.
|Q: Where in Colorado?|
|Q: That's a beautiful part of the state. Good snowmobiling. Have you been?|
A: Yeah. And skiing. I've become a skiing nut. I never walked on snow until I was 50. No snow where I come from. There's snow fields in Victoria, in Australia. They get like three inches of power. It's sort of [makes a slow downhill motion with his left hand] snow...ice...dirt...grass...gravel!
|Q: Have you become a good skier?|
A: Pretty good, yeah. I like a bit of speed. But my confidence is beyond my ability.
|Q: Doesn't it drive you crazy when you think you're really trucking down the slope and some 5-year-old half-pint goes zipping right past you?|
A: Yeah. Mitten suckers, we call them. Little skis this long and they go flying past you. I know, I got one. Two-and-a-half years old and he skis!
|Q: So, the big question: Why another "Crocodile Dundee" movie now?|
A: The instigation was living in Los Angeles for a couple years. Most of the social comments are from real life.
|Q: So it's safe to say you've really found yourself in a gay cowboy bar (like Mick does in the movie)?|
A: I went into one. [Laughs.] I went into one with Olivia Newton John, actually.
|Q: You probably knew what you were getting into, though. Unlike your character in the movie.|
A: No, I didn't! No. She took me to this bar -- her and her sister. There were all these guys who were really good looking, make you feel like you're the ugliest person in the room. (Some of them were staring) and I said, "They're all perving on you two." And she said, "Oh, they're not looking at us. They're looking at you!" Oy!
|Q: What is the strangest thing about Americans?|
A: Well, there's nothing strange about Americans as a whole. (But) Angelinos are different! (L.A.) has become the sort of culture capital of the world because it's the most exposed city in the world. Everyone knows Sunset Strip, they know the names of streets, the know the style of people, they know about the traffic and the weather, drive-by shootings. (It was) the natural place for me to go (for this movie) because it's all so sleek and sophisticated and cutting edge, and Mick is not. It would be no good doing "Crocodile Dundee in Vladivostok." But L.A. was screaming out for something like this.
|Q: Well, now that Dundee has conquered New York and L.A., is there any place left? Could he be going to Tokyo? "Crocodile Dundee vs. Godzilla"?|
A: For the first five years after the second one, I said I'd never do another one. And people would all say, "No, you should send him to Tokyo" or "I can see him in Paris." Everyone had an idea of where to send him except me. Eventually, being slow, I came around too.
|Q: Because of the 13-year gap between the last "Dundee" film and this one, did you have to convince Paramount the franchise was still viable?|
A: Yep. They had no interest whatsoever. They sort of rang me about five times a year for seven years after, then they stopped ringing.
|Q: What did you do to convince them to back this?|
A: I didn't. It's an independent film. They're just the distributor.
|Q: So you just made it and showed it to them.|
A: And they said, "Wow, look at this movie we made!" [Laughs.]
|Q: Do you have any plans for your next film?|
A: No, I don't. Nothing beyond this year. I go into retirement between jobs.
|Q: If something comes along that strikes your fancy, you do it. But otherwise...|
|Q: What if you were to never act again? Would it matter to you?|
A: Nope. This is not a pathetic attempt to revive my sagging career. [Laughs.] I read that somewhere and thought, "What career?" The man's got a body of film of about four movies! I didn't get into entertainment until I was 31. I didn't start in movies until I was 46.
|Q: You were a boxer and a bridge worker in your 20s. How did you get started in show biz?|
A: I went on a talent quest (show)...it was a dare. I said I would, and (my fellow bridge riggers) said I wouldn't. (It was) "Star Search" and "The Gong Show" mixed together. It was all about persecuting the amateur talent, with a smart-assed panel of mediocre professional entertainers. They would humiliate these poor people. I did one of those, "I'd like to give them a piece of my mind!" (My co-workers said), "Oh yeah, you're a bulls**ter." I wrote a letter in claiming to be a tap-dancing knife thrower. I thought, they'll read this, think I'm an idiot, and I'll get on the show quickly. And it worked. I was on the show in a week. I went on with my handful of knives and big boots on, (then) I just got up and talked.
|Q: What happened?|
A: I didn't win the talent quest, (but) the switchboard lit up. It was more about balls than being funny. I wasn't that funny, as I look back upon it. I just did something everyone wanted to do. I gave them a big taste of their own medicine. I picked out all their shortcomings, told them what to work on. They had to smile and nod, but they hated me.
|Q: They probably hate you even more now.|
A: Oh, I'm sure!