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Jack Thompson AM

b. 1940

Jack Thompson AM (b. 1940), actor, worked as a jackeroo, served in the Army and studied at the University of Queensland before deciding to pursue an acting career. After bit parts in such series as Homicide, he gained a lead role in Spyforce; within a few years, he was the indispensable face of the Australian film renaissance. He was in Petersen (1974), Sunday Too Far Away (1975), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), Caddie (1976), The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (1978), The Club (1980), Breaker Morant (1980) – for which he won a best actor AFI and was named best supporting actor at Cannes – The Man from Snowy River (1982) and Burke and Wills (1985). In 1972 he was the first Cleo centrefold, and he gained further admiration for living in a ménage a trois with two sisters for fifteen years in the 1970s and 1980s. Since The Sum of Us (1994), which launched the career of Russell Crowe, Thompson has acted in many American films including John Woo’s Broken Arrow (1996), Bruce Beresford’s Last Dance (1996), Clint Eastwood’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), Excess Baggage (1997) with Alicia Silverstone, Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004) with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts and The Good German (2006) with George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. Locally, he has also made films including Oyster Farmer (2004) Australia (2008) and Mao’s Last Dancer (2009). He was named a living legend at the Inside Film awards of 2005. In 2007, he established the Jack Thompson Foundation to support the Homelands Building Program, assisting communities of East Arnhem Land to build culturally and environmentally appropriate housing and engage in horticulture and hydroponic food production. He has been a Landcare Ambassador as well as a member of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation and Australian Good Will Ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. In 2012 he received an honorary doctorate from Charles Darwin University, for his work with the Gumatj people.

Updated 2018