Jack Irish

I think the Jack Irish series by Peter Temple is not just the best crime series in Australia but rivals any crime fiction series in the world. When I first heard they were turning the books into a TV series I was very excited because I knew it would bring more readers to the series and to Peter Temple’s other books. However my excitement was met with apprehension when I heard that Guy Pearce was cast in the role of Jack Irish. I like Guy Pearce and think he has done some fantastic work, in particular his role in HBO’s Mildred Pierce but for me he just didn’t embody the character of Jack Irish that I had in my mind.

The Jack Irish character I had from reading the books was Jack Thompson-esque: laconic, strong, rugged. My mind began to change though after seeing Animal Kingdom, in which Guy Pearce played a detective. For the first time I thought there was a possibility he could pull the role off.

I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of both Jack Irish telemovies, Bad Debts and Black Tide, and I can say unequivocally that Guy Pearce is Jack Irish. Not only does he embody the role, he completely owns it. The whole production is also pitch perfect. You couldn’t imagine a better support cast, in every role. Melbourne and rural Victoria, which is evoked so well in the books is also filmed nice and darkly. Both telemovies are true to the books and the only negative I can think of is that Dead Point and White Dog aren’t filmed yet!

Bad Debts screens tonight (October 14) on ABC1 at 8:30 and Black Tide screens next week (October 21) and of course will be available to view on iView and DVD so there is no excuse for missing a great piece of Australian television. And if you like it make sure you checkout the books because they re of course always better and Peter Temple is a national treasure!

9 thoughts on “Jack Irish

  1. I’ve only just read the opening stanza-I’m going back to it. The author has immediately nailed the problem I have been worrying about. The problem being should I watch the show or not?

    I love the ‘Jack Irish’ books and have some pretty firm ideas about some of the characters. To me our hero is rather like Robert Mitchum doing Raymond Chandler-Farewell My Lovely-but with darker hair. A big man with a soft Oz accent. The sort of guy who has been around a lot but is all class.

    As for the minor roles, I just can’t conceive of anyone playing them the way I imagine them. And why are male actors mainly short?

    Peter Temple’s books are superb and very re-readable.

      1. In many ways It’s an excellent production. All the minor parts were beautifully acted, so no complaints there. I can even live with the leading female role needed to be expanded. But, big but here, I don’t think Guy Pearce was the right choice to play Jack Irish. Too short, voice too high, too nervy. The man playing the furniture maker was fantastic.

        I wish they had included more, I only heard one, of those wonderful one liners which occour in the books.

  2. I’ve had quite a strong image in my head of Jack for many years now and Pearce wasn’t it – but after a few minutes I’d stopped thinking “he’s not tall/solidly built enough” and just enjoyed the performance. I think he depicted the essence of Jack Irish in a quite lovely way – the insecurities, the sadness juxtaposed with the humour, the appreciation of history, the precedence he gives to strong friendships, the intelligence – all of that was on the screen and so it didn’t matter that Pearce isn’t physically exactly as I’d imagined Irish to be.

    1. I agree. Pearce nailed ‘the essence’ of the character we’ve read in the four books (so far). I think we could debate for days who would be the ‘right’ choice for the role. I didn’t expect, for example, to see Aaron Pederson as Cam. My head’s version was of a subtle tough guy who is fair, maybe even blonde! I hope they make 2 more of these. And I can’t wait for Temple’s next book…

  3. Yes but….I too can/have to learn to live with physical dissimilarities
    in an actor-compared to how the part was written originally. But I found Pearce to be too nervy. Irish does have insecurities but he doesn’t show them. He thinks them.

    Also, there’s a huge difference between Guy Pearce playing the part of Jack Irish and Guy Pearce being Jack Irish.

    I loved the Studebaker. Was it a Lark?

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