Hogan back to Oz for ‘Bedfellows’

'Dundee' thesp to star with Caton in comedy

SYDNEY — Australia’s Crocodile Dundee, Paul Hogan, has inked to co-star in the gentle comedy “Strange Bedfellows” — his first Aussie-financed movie in 17 years.

The story of two old straight guys who pretend they’re a gay couple to avoid paying taxes will feature Hogan opposite Michael Caton, last seen in Rob Schneider vehicle “The Animal.” The duo last worked together more than 20 years ago, when Caton, then a star of hit drama “The Sullivans,” guested on Hogan’s long-running sketch series “The Paul Hogan Show.”

Also expected to be in the cast are Aussie chatshow host Bert Newton and British thesp Pete Postlethwaite.

Hogan, who ankled L.A. to settle permanently in Sydney last year, took just “days” to decide he wanted the role.

“It’s the funniest script I’ve ever had sent to me,” he told Variety. “Most of the stuff sent to me over the years was the kind of junk that (Jean-Claude) Van Damme would do.”

Pic’s helmer, Dean Murphy, who generated the concept and co-penned the script with Stewart Faichney, said Hogan topped his early wishlist, but “we never thought we had any hope of getting (him).”

But exec producer Thomas Augsberger was convinced the actor would be interested.

And he was: “I love the character, he’s full of enthusiasm, he’s never beaten and always looks on the bright side of things,” Hogan said.

Murphy describes Hogan’s character as an “energetic scammer,” with Caton to play the more laid-back of the duo.

The A$10 million plus ($6 million) budget is comfortable by local standards, but significantly less than Hogan’s previous outing “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles,” made in 2000 for a reported $25 million.

Not an issue, says the actor, who turns 64 this year. “I’ll bring my own lunch, drive my own car . . . The budget’s adequate because there’s no special effects or giant stunts. It’s all about people and it’s a lot better budget than the old ‘Hogan’ shows. I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”

The original “Crocodile Dundee” movie, starring, co-written and co-financed by Hogan and released in 1986, remains Australia’s highest-grossing domestic movie (it took $30 million) and the second-highest grossing pic ever in Oz, after “Titanic.” His followup, “Crocodile Dundee II” is the No. 3 Aussie grosser, following “Babe.” Hogan’s subsequent, U.S.-financed projects — “Almost an Angel,” “Flipper,” “Lightning Jack” and “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles” — failed to replicate that early success.

The vet says he shares Murphy’s vision for “Strange Bedfellows.”

“It’s the first script I’ve had (where) I’ve thought, ‘I don’t have to rewrite any of this,’ because usually I do. Mostly I’ve only done my own stuff anyway, but I looked at this and thought, ‘This could be carved in marble — I don’t have to change anything.’ I will contribute; I have already had a few runs through with Dean, but basically if you said, ‘No, you’ve got to do it word for word’ — you could.”

“Strange Bedfellows” will lense for eight weeks, starting Aug. 4, on location in the small Victorian town of Yackandandah, about three hours north of Melbourne.

Distribber Becker is planning a world preem in Australia next Easter and Eden Rock Media will be seeking foreign buyers at Cannes.

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