Australian director Phillip Noyce is leading the tributes to his Newsfront star Bill Hunter, who died on Saturday (21May11) following a battle with cancer.
Directors and actors from the Australian film community have expressed their sorrow after the Muriel's Wedding star passed away at a Melbourne hospice.
Noyce - who cast Hunter in four of his films, including his 1978 hit Newsfront - branded the acting legend "extraordinary".
He says, "He was the epitome, the absolute essence of the Anglo-Irish Australian male of the 20th century. Hunter was us and that's why we liked him and that's why us directors kept using him and why Australian audiences kept responding to him. He defined us. Hunter was extraordinary."
Meanwhile, Hunter's friend and fellow actor David Field says, "(He had) extraordinary instinct and intelligence, a very profound human being. The everyman on the street was the man he loved - from hobo upwards he didn't mind. He always had time for everyone, for all his kind of roaring bluff, he was a very sensitive and very gentle man."
Filmmaker Simon Wincer, who directed Hunter in The Cup, insists his death leaves a void in the entertainment industry Down Under, adding, "He was associated really with the renaissance of the Australian film industry from the '70s right up until the last few months."
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also paid her respects: "Mr. Hunter played a key role as an acclaimed actor in helping to define Australian culture over five decades on screen and on stage. He told us Australian stories in an Australian voice at a time when we were debating and developing our sense of national identity."
A memorial service for Hunter will be held at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne on Thursday (26May11).