Question: Tell us about your awareness of the case prior to being cast.
Richard Cawthorne: I think like most people who know of the story, my awareness of the case and Tony Mokbel was really just from the media. I'm one of those actors who tries to use as much of the material that's offered by the script and the writers because I feel that it's very important to remain in the world that has been created. So I used a lot of the scripted material as a basis with which to form my character and also there was a degree of information that was provided by the production regarding the character that I'm playing and the case, so I used all that plus whatever I could source online.
Question: In this dramatised version of events can you tell us about your character's role in bringing Tony Mokbel to justice?
Richard Cawthorne: The character that I play is an agent for the Federal Police and I believe that the Federal Police played a key role on bringing Tony Mokbel before the courts.
Question: How are you approaching your portrayal?
Richard Cawthorne: I believe that the best way for me to approach the role – and this is very much my feeling – is that he's a man of integrity, so everything has to be by the book with him, especially, as part of our story is the fact that he's building a case against Tony Mokbel – so nothing can be brought into question. Everything that he does has to be by the book and that's really how I'm approaching the character dramatically. I'm portraying a man of integrity, a man of compassion and also a man who is really mindful of not -messing-up' whilst trying to compile this case against Tony because if the evidence is collected badly, or something is done inappropriately, it could really unravel the whole case, so I think that trying to be meticulous with all aspects is really something that has helped me, as an actor, approach the character.
Question: Dramatically speaking, what qualities do you most admire about your character?
Richard Cawthorne: One thing that comes to mind is that his involvement with the case took place over the course of ten years, so that really says a lot about someone's commitment. And I think that his motivations were very pure – he's a -man of the law' and that seems very important to him.
Question: What was your knowledge of the events portrayed in this show prior to being cast?
Stephen Curry: Being a Melbourne boy, I was fascinated by the Melbourne underworld war and the compelling nature of all these crazy, real-life events that happened right on our doorstep, so I've been kind of shamelessly interested. I can probably say that I've studied it far more than I should have!
Question: Tell us about the research you undertook in order to portray your character?
Stephen Curry: I was given a lot of information about the character – he's a real person – and basically gleaned a great deal through the production's research department. He rose through Victoria Police and I learned about the difference between Victoria Police and Australian Federal Police, which are separate agencies, but who do, on occasion, work together. My character was made to work alongside the guys from AFP to try and solve the case.
Question: What do you admire most about your character?
Stephen Curry: Mostly his dogged determination, his dedication to the job, his honesty and his genuine desire to see justice carried out.
Question: How did you find the experience of filming in Greece?
Stephen Curry: It was fantastic! I went there with director Peter Andrikidis and fellow cast members Robert Mammone and Richard Cawthorne. We had lots of fun and ate far too many kebabs and calamari for anyone's good, but it was great! The Greek crew were absolutely brilliant. It was just a fantastic experience and I also got to have my wife and baby over there as well. It was really good fun.
Question: Why do you think audiences are besotted with crime shows?
Stephen Curry: I guess the reality of it appeals and in this instance, because it's based so locally. Like me, they've been watching it from the outside for many years, which makes it particularly fascinating. All of these events happened on our doorstep. You can watch The Sopranos or similar, and go, 'Oh well, that's New York mafia," but these things happened here. I grew up in Balwyn, which is right next to Kew where the 'Munster" met his end. You kind of think about the leafy streets of Kew, yet the truth of what went on there is morbidly fascinating and will always be so. I can genuinely say that I'm a little bit obsessed by it all.
Question: What was your awareness of the case prior to being cast in the series?
Shane Jacobson: I was as aware of the case as I suppose most people were. Tony Mokbel is a name that everyone knows so you couldn't help but be curious about what was going on.
Question: What research did you undertake in order to portray your character?
Shane Jacobson: I looked at some interviews that he had undertaken and he appeared to be a confident and powerful man so I've tried to emulate that.
Question: Tell us about your character's role in bringing bring Tony Mokel to justice.
Shane Jacobson: Well he's the head of the Purana Task Force so he's a straight cop, an honest cop, but he does have a single vision, which is to bring Tony Mokbel to justice and in the end, to bring him back to Australia for justice to be served. So, dare I say it, he has a -dog with a bone' attitude – he just won't let it go. He's pivotal in leading the Task Force in their quest to find and bring Tony to justice.
Question: What aspects of his character do you most admire?
Shane Jacobson: That would be his -never give-up' attitude, which is something that you see with major sporting people who achieve greatness, or politicians who are trying to do their best. I admire the passion that drives people to carry on until their mission is accomplished, so I think that if I was to admire anything about him, it would be that aspect, and also the fact that he was very much responsible in bringing Tony Mokbel to justice. It's very nice to know that there are people like him out there.
Question: What are you enjoying the most about working on Fat Tony & Co.?
Shane Jacobson: I couldn't be more serious when I say that an incredible cast has been assembled for this show. At times, when shooting scenes I'm saying to myself, 'I'm getting a chance to work with this great Australian actor." I was truly stoked when I learned that I'd been cast as there are just so many amazing Australian actors jammed into the one project.
Question: What do you think audiences will enjoy about this series?
Shane Jacobson: It's very good drama and I think that what is great about it is that even though it's based on events that people out there may, or may not, be aware of, there are often some details that are added to a drama, such as this, that make it grittier. In all honesty, I think that it has great performances and scripts and as actor that's all you can hope for. And I feel that people are going to discover those elements too.
Cast: Robert Mammone, Hollie Andrew, Steve Bastoni, Nicholas Bishop, Craig Blumeris, John Brumpton, Tawni Bryant, Debra Byrne, Dean Cartmel, Richard Cawthorne, Vince Colosimo, Zoe Cramond, Matthew Crosby, Stephen Curry, Lester Ellis, Nick Farnell, Rowan Francis, Gyton Grantley, Kevin Harrington, Les Hill, Shane Jacobson, Odette Joannidis, Gerard Kennedy, Christine Keogh, Simone Kessell, Jeremy Kewley, Antonio Lancuba, Louise Mandylor, Maria Mercedes, Louisa Mignone, Dan Mor, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Ben Noble, Ryan O'Kane, Vince Poletto, Robert Rabiah, Jake Ryan, Frank Sweet, Samantha Tolj, Alex Tsitsopoulos, Kym Valentine, Brian Vriends, Madeleine West, Simon Westaway, Tom Wren
Directors: Peter Andrikidis, Andrew Prowse, Karl Zwicky
Genre: Crime, Drama
Running Time: 385 minutes
Fat Tony & Co., the brand-new production from Screentime, tells the story of Australia's most successful drug baron, from the day he quit cooking pizza in favour of cooking drugs, to the heyday of his $140 million dollar drug empire, all the way through to his arrest in an Athens café and his whopping 22-year sentence in Victoria's maximum security prison.
Already a key player on the Australian drug scene in his own right, Fat Tony becomes more deeply embroiled in the underworld as he joins forces with up-andcoming drug dealer Carl Williams. He strikes an uneasy truce with the Carlton Crew, the territorial and dangerous royalty of the Melbourne underworld, even doing business from time to time with the Moran family. With his three brothers and Carl Williams, Tony expands his drug empire into a multi-million dollar industry, all the while investing his profits in honest bricks and mortar, determined to leave a legacy for the family and the city that he loves.
However, the burning tension between Carl and the Carlton Crew is quickly devolving into all-out war – the Melbourne Gangland War that would eventually claim some thirty lives. Tony is losing control of his well-ordered operation, and is finding it harder and harder to remain a neutral businessman. But Tony isn't like other underworld figures - he always has a plan and an eye to the future, even when it seems like the police have closed every door to him.
The ambition and drive that it took for Tony Mokbel to rise from a suburban milkbar owner to Australia's most wanted man was matched only by the sheer determination of the police in their ten-year battle to shut Fat Tony down. The Victorian and Federal police undertook a marathon attempt to bring him to justice, spanning countless arrests, legal battles and the downfall of more than one corrupt officer.
Fat Tony & Co. is the true story of Tony Mokbel; how he grew entangled with the country's most notorious underworld figures, how he built his massive fortune, and how he became a fugitive on a yacht bound for Greece, desperate to escape mounting criminal law battles.
Fat Tony & Co.