‘Crocodile' Dundee II has grossed around $70 million during its first three weeks on release in America and seems a fair bet to equal if not surpass the record-topping popularity of its predecessor. Its star and creator Paul Hogan is 48. has been famous for the past fifteen years and is wise enough in the ways ofcelebrity to deftly field any questions from the assembled hacks whether it be the obsequiously couched bombshells of the tabloids or the more civilised enquiries of those fortunate not to be within the grasp ofsomc multi-title owning media megalomaniac.

Hogan has agreed to face the press at a trying time in his personal life. when Mrs Hogan has been replaced by co-star Linda Kozlowski as the object ofhis tenderest affections. He can be only too aware of the subjects to be touched upon in the next hour but he has a film to promote and so must enter the lions‘ den. He has armed himself. however. with good humour and patience. earning a mental round ofapplause for unflappable dignity under inexorable pressure.

Mick Dundee seemed such an unassuming fellow to be taken to the hearts of a global audience still cheering the breast-baring excesses ofStallone‘s Rambo. Why did he feel his unsophisticated but canny backwoodsman has been adopted as some universal folk hero'.’ ‘Innocence.’ he replies with typical taciturnity. ‘Straightforwardness. Everyone‘s afraid ofbig cities and he was a country fellow who handled it all nicely.‘ At one point. reports had suggested that Hogan was decidedly unsympathetic to the notion of a ‘Crocodile‘ sequel. Was it merely the lure of further filthy lucre that changed his mind‘.’ ‘Money wasn‘t that important when I had none and it‘s not important now that I have plenty. It was the in-between time that was difficult. No. I said I wouldn‘t do a sequel unless I thought it was better than the first one. I didn‘t do that much in the first one and we ran out of budget and out of time. I think this is a better made movie; it looks better and has more laughs. The only thing that‘s lost is the virginity of the first one. The critics say that the second one has lost the warmth and charm and humour ofthe first. but they didn‘t see that when it came out; then it was a boring. bland heap of rubbish. My job is to make people laugh. the critics‘ job is to stop me.‘

Hogan claims not to come ‘from a traditional comic background; using laughter as a defence weapon‘ and is unable to cite any individual influences on his style though he can reel off some favourite comics ‘Robin Williams has the funniest mind in the world. Richard Pryor has always been a favourite. Morecambe and Wise. Tommy Cooper who never told a new joke in his life. they were all a hundred years old.‘ These days he seems to regard critics and the majority ofjournalists as some kind ofbarrier between him and his desire to communicate laughter to the audiences of the world. If they can find a vulnerable point they'll

Is there really room for a Crocodile Dundee 11‘? And what made Paul Hogan do it? Allan Hunter listens to

the tough-talking star‘s defence.

poke an inquisitive finger in and twist it around. Dundee II for instance. was co-written by Hogan‘s son Brett. leading automatically to charges ofnepotism. ‘I think everyone expected an 1 1 year-old with a big crayon. He‘s 28. going on 50. and he concentrates on the plotlines and I concentrate on the little visual bits and we run together very well. Also. he works very cheap.‘ The relationship with Linda Kozlowski has predictably set the hounds haying. ‘My wife and I are separated and I‘m now with Linda. I‘ve had one wife for thirty years and now one lover. I‘m really a bit dull that way. I‘m not Mickey Rooney or Zsa Zsa Gabor. The when and where and how of falling in love is really nobody‘s business. Look at one of Rupert Murdoch‘s grubby little papers and that will tell you what‘s going on. that‘s what I do. No one needs to know because a good deal ofyou will just make it grotty and sordid. You have more grubby tabloids than any other country in the world and I think you deserve better. You used to be such a civilised country. In Australia the press only loved me once and that was when they thought I was dying. There were wonderful. embarrassing eulogies written about me when I was lying in hospital with my brain bleeding. When I walked

out they turned on me again.‘

For a man who underwent such a serious health scare. Hogan seems fit and well and seemed to display no qualms about a scene in Dundee II that calls upon him to nonchalantly save a skyscraper suicide from the 22nd floor. ‘I won't do anything that means I could die. As executive producer I won‘t do anything that could delay shooting like breaking an arm. We were 22 storeys high and that was me. but I did that for years as a rigger for $ 150 dollars a week. No problem.‘

The character of Mick Dundee will undoubtedly have made Hogan his bank manager‘s best friend; earnings are pouring in like a never-ending series of Pools wins. He admits that his fledgling film career is completely dominated by one character but is adamant that there will be no Dundee Ill and seems to have a clearsighted vision ofwhere his future lies. (‘ertainly outwith television. ‘It‘s too hard and too much ofa compromise; time-wise and budget-wise. I enjoy starting with a piece ofpaper and finishing up with something on a big screen. TV is just a cheap. cut-down version of what you visualised in your head. I‘ve received about 100 to 150 scripts in the last twelve months. some I‘ve liked, some that are not suitable. but if a good script landed on my desk I'd

do it even if it was made in Iithiopia or something. it doesn‘t have to be Australian.‘

Right now. Ilogan is sifting through a few ideas for a new script of his own. ‘It‘s a contemporary comedy that‘s not set in the Australian outback and has nothing to do with New York. It could be set anywhere because essentially it‘s about people. We‘ll think about making that next year. No hurry.‘

Once these promotional chores are attended to. Hogan’s immediate plans include the making of more commercials. He continues to provide his free services to the Australian tourist industry. attracting a twofold increase in 18 months. with his offer to put another shrimp on the barbie for adventurous Americans. He is also still under contract to Fosters. purveyors of an amber nectar to which he himself has always been partial. But should a universal folk hero help promote alcohol to the

youth of Britain? ‘People here drank long before television came along. Besides. they were drinking wine at the Last Supper.‘

(.‘mcudile Dundee I I is now on wide general release. See Film Listings. J

The List 24 June 7July l9885