Bryan Brown: “I was a sharp young fella”

Being called a heart-throb was a status the actor embraced.
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Fresh from a weekend away on a houseboat with his grandkids and one of his daughters, Bryan Brown is feeling so relaxed when New Idea gets him on the phone he’s practically comatose.  

“I’m the sort of bloke who likes to put himself in a situation and sees what happens,” he tells us of his current life philosophy.   

We’re chatting for the release of Bryan’s new crime novel, The Drowning.

WATCH NOW: Bryan Brown and wife Rachel Ward. Article continues after video.

“I was thinking about these areas in the hinterlands out in the bush that I know and came up with this idea of blokes and their bikes whipping around there and coming across something they shouldn’t be,” Bryan, 76, tells us. 

“I find it intriguing to write about who we are and the fact that nobody really knows everything about us … it doesn’t matter how close they are.”

The Drowning is Bryan’s second time putting pen to paper, following his debut Sweet Jimmy in 2021. The wheels are already turning in regards to a third book.

“I have the world that I want to place the next story in, but I haven’t got my story,” he reveals. 

“Until when I’m driving along in the car and suddenly the story comes.” 

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Bryan Brown smiling with his first book, Sweet Jimmy. (Credit: Book Face Stores)

While Bryan is enjoying new success as an author, he is, of course, known for being one of our finest actors. He made his movie debut in 1975 in Scobie Malone, and now has almost 100 credits to his name. 

Looking back on his time in movies, Bryan says making the 1988 Dian Fossey biopic Gorillas in the Mist remains a career highlight. Not only did he have Sigourney Weaver for a leading lady, but for three weeks Bryan got to spend “every day” with gorillas. 

“I turned 40 on that job,” Bryan recalls.

“If someone had said to me when I was a kid, ‘where do you think you’ll be when you turn 40?’ I would never have said in a country called Rwanda, in Africa, surrounded by rivers and gorillas. I’m so pleased I experienced that.”

Women lusted after Bryan in The Thorn Birds, but he only had eyes for his co-star Rachel. (Credit: Supplied)

Many of Bryan’s roles catapulted him into a bona fide heart-throb, especially the epic miniseries The Thorn Birds. Yet it is a label that he thinks is funny, and doesn’t put too much stock in it.  

“I was a pretty sharp young fella you know,” he says with a laugh. 

“They’re labels but they’re not what you are. They’re compliments – and if you can’t take a compliment there’s something wrong with you.”

The proud dad and grandfather loves family time. (Credit: Bryan Brown)

A title that Bryan does embrace with every fibre of his body is that of family man. He and wife Rachel Ward have been blissfully married for 40 years, having famously fallen in love on the set of The Thorn Birds

Becoming parents to daughters Rosie and Matilda and son Joe, the couple now have three grandchildren to dote over, and another is on the way. 

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How cute! (Credit: Bryan Brown)

Despite his success, Bryan tells us that he still surrounds himself with the “same people” he did before he was famous as “they’re the things that are important.”

He’s also remained steadfastly headstrong, with advice from his mother ever present. 

“Whatever is in front of you, just deal with,” he shares. 

“Life’s right there, all the good things are there. Sometimes they can get hidden, [so] grab those good things because they really are great for you.”

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