With Australian film ‘The BBQ’ premiering Feb. 22, renowned actor Shane Jacobson (Kenny, Guardians of the Tomb) and My Kitchen Rules co-host Manu Feildel answer some of our burning questions about the brilliant comedy — and life in general. Below, they reveal who’s the better cook, artfully dodge questions about the upcoming MKR season, and simply tease one another behind the scenes.
Filmed in Albury-Wodonga, The BBQ cast also boasts Nicholas Hammond, Julia Zemiro and 13-year-old newcomer Freddie Simpson.
TV BUZZ: I feel this movie will quickly hit a level of popularity—mainly because there was a diverse range of characters. You have a superhero Indian neighbour; you’re up against a Frenchman with the help of Magda Szubanski who plays a Scottish woman, and you learn the master of beef from Mr. Yoshimura. What ideas were the creators trying to get at?
SHANE: Well, that is Australia. ‘The BBQ’ is a central meeting place and in the film, my character Dazza Cook hosts one every week, inviting everyone in the community regardless of their ethnicity and background. That’s what a barbecue is. Australia isn’t the only place on earth where one exists, but it is something that this country is extremely proud of and I think it’s because of the simplicity of it. ‘Put a bit of heat, get some meat and drink your beer.’ That’s definitely director Stephen Amis’ aim – to create a sense of multiculturalism.
With the role of Dazza Cook, were you immediately drawn to the script? How did it all come about?
My character is the definition of the everyday Australian man. Once I read the script, I immediately associated myself with the character because he’s an optimist, (much like me); he’s from a loving family, has a couple of kids and just wants to have this barbecue as the totem pole for people in his community. The first people I heard attached to the film was the incredible Magda Szubanski and Manu, and also Nicholas Hammond, who was the original Von Trapp cast member in ‘The Sound of Music’.
Manu, this is your very first feature film! Did you find yourself approaching this role or preparing for it any differently than a TV show like My Kitchen Rules?
MANU: Completely. I didn’t even know what to do! Firstly, to be involved in a feature film was a shock to me. But I was also pleased someone thought about me. Stephen Amis wrote this script five years ago and when he began looking for a French person in Australia, he found only one (laughs). Of course, it’s not easy to learn a script. When I received the first copy, I grabbed a ruler and highlighter and started rehearsing my lines. Three days later, I was delivered a new script and highlighted all over again. I was definitely nervous because I had no idea what was going to be asked of me. But working with professional actors, everyone made me feel relaxed.
Were you at all worried about the audience’s response?
Yes! I didn’t even see the movie until the premiere in Albury. Just travelling around Australia and hearing laughter from the audience brought a sense of relief. It’s very different to television where you have twelve cameras shooting at once. In movies, there’s one — I had to repeat my lines 25-30 times while the camera shoots from different angles.
How do you think Shane would cope as a contestant in a high-pressured cooking show like MKR?
MANU: I think the only reason why Shane would last a little longer than everyone else is because of his sense of humour. But his cooking is pretty crap. If I swapped him with my co-host Pete Evans, it’d be better for the contestants, however, worse for me. Shane will just give 10/10 to everyone!
I’ve actually placed a bet with him. He hates brussel sprouts and I need to make him eat it.
SHANE: If aliens said ‘We’re coming to earth and we’re going to take two things away,’ I’d answer, ‘Take brussel sprouts and Donald Trump’. And if they say they’ll take away one thing, I’ll reply with, ‘Fine. Keep Trump, get rid of the sprouts.’
And for the upcoming season of MKR, can you tease it up for us?
MANU: There’s always something that’s a little different; this year is a little more than usual. There’s only two groups instead of three, and there much bigger. The contestants would need to prepare bigger tables and cook for more people – that will be a challenge. Also, we’ve been visiting homes for the past eight seasons, and this time, they’ll be coming to ours.