5th October 1985
Nine’s Anzacs mini-series is set to make Jon one of our biggest names.
HANDSOME New Zealander Jon Blake has emerged as one of Australia’s hottest acting properties after winning a role he says came right out of the blue.
Jon, one of the stars of Nine’s blockbuster $8.5 million mini-series Anzacs, came into the show just eight days before filming began.
“But I couldn’t have written a better part for myself,” he says.
Jon describes his character,Flanagan, one of a platoon of six soldiers fighting in Europe during World War I, as an anti-hero.
“It’s a very physical role. Flanagan represents the emergence of the new generation of Australian guys,”’ Jon says.
“‘And for the first time I get the girl in the end.
“My character is one of the few survivors. He goes right through from Gallipoli to the European campaign and survives to have a beer at the local pub at Fitzroy on Anzac Day a year later.”
A former star of The Restless Years, Jon counts himself very fortunate as the Anzacs cast appeared to be decided several months before shooting started.
The last-minute departure of actor Gary Sweet, who opted for a role in the movie Indecent Obsession, allowed Jon to swiftly move into the plum role of Flanagan.
“TI was shaking when I picked up the scripts — it’s such a great role,” Jon says.
Flanagan was born in Ballarat and joined the AIF after finishing an engineering apprenticeship in the mines of Ballarat. He had a rough and tumble upbringing before joining the army and had no romantic illusions about the war or anything else for that matter. But, as one of the first group of reinforcements to reach Gallipoli, he forms a firm friendship with Martin Barrington (Andrew Clarke) despite the two men’s different backgrounds.
Their relationship is based on mutal respect rather than affection and, at times, things get quite stormy. For example, they both vie for the attentions of a nursing sister, Kate (played by former Sullivans star Megan Williams).
In Anzacs, much of Jon’s on-screen involvement was with Paul Hogan, who stars as the larrikin soldier Pat Cleary.
“Flanagan and Cleary become partners in crime in a lot of the drinking scenes and brothel sequences. When we’re on leave together we’re always playing up. I’m the VC winner — the soldier who’s the survivor — and he’s also one of the old hands who’s been through it before. Before long, we become very close.
“The role of Cleary was written with Hogan in mind. Paul says he’s been offered around 60 different roles over the years. He’s always knocked them back, but he’d have been mad not to do this one.
“Pat’s the total larrikin every platoon has to have. There was always a bit of humor on the front line and Pat’s the guy who supplies the men with German cigars and alcohol and keeps the morale up with gags. That’s Hogan.”’
Fresh from playing Flanagan, Jon went into a starring role in the $1.5 million movie Cool Change, made by Anzacs’ producer Geoff Burrowes and George.
Now he’s starring again in Geoff Burrowes’ latest project, the $6.5 million movie Free Enterprise, which began filming this month.
By Patrice Fidgeon
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