Muriel's Wedding star reveals what you never knew about the classic film

Muriel's Wedding was released 22 years ago. Photo / Supplied
Muriel's Wedding was released 22 years ago. Photo / Supplied

Twenty two years after it was released, Muriel's Wedding is still one of the most beloved Australian films of all time. It launched the career of then-unknown, Toni Collette, raked in almost $60 million worldwide at the box office, and introduced a whole new generation to the music of ABBA.

With the annals of time solidifying its cult status, its fans today are more passionate than ever - among them, Brisbane-based artist James Hillier, aka Nordacious. Next week he'll exhibit a selection of his Muriel's Wedding-themed artworks: Vivid, colourful pop-art pieces that have already amassed a cult following online.

Two stars from the original film will be on hand to help open the exhibition: Gabby Milgate (Joanie Heslop) and Gennie Nevinson, who played the homewrecking scarlet woman of Porpoise Spit, Deidre Chambers. We spoke to Nevinson to hear her memories about playing a vital part in one of the best films of the 90s.

"As much I'm grateful that I was in [the film], in fact it had a bit of a backlash for me in the next few years, because people really despised Diedre Chambers," Nevinson told news.com.au.

"There's obviously a cult of Muriel's Wedding fans - often gay guys - and they get excited when they see Diedre Chambers. They all love Diedre; I don't know if it's because she's such a bitch. But at the premiere, when Diedre comes out towards the end in her matching apron and gloves to clean up mum's house, people actually hissed!" Nevinson recalls.

Muriel's Wedding was released 22 years ago. Photo / Supplied
Muriel's Wedding was released 22 years ago. Photo / Supplied

"I remember being up for a big Glad Wrap commercial that was based on the Heslop family, but with Diedre, but I think that when it went out for research, they found people really didn't like her," she says.

Despite this, Nevinson says she never felt her character was acting with malice.
"I always felt she was totally unconscious - she wasn't manipulative, she was just dim and selfish."

Nevison says Aussie acting legend Bill Hunter was a bit of a loose unit.

"Bill had just come off Priscilla. He couldn't remember the lines, so it was very difficult for me because I never knew if he was going to reply or not! We became very good mates, he was a very nice man and I was very fond of him, but golly - I don't think he'd even read the script!" Nevinson chuckled.

"When I looked at his envelope with the script, it didn't look like he'd read it. He'd had such a ball on Priscilla which meant he wasn't there for the workshops, so I met him for the first time in that scene when Muriel was Mariel, in that Chinese restaurant when he was in Sydney for his court appearance."

And on Toni Colette:

"She was not very friendly, really. But I think she was probably very nervous and concentrating, and perhaps trying to develop a vibe between our characters. But she's such a wonderful actress, she's really faultless in everything she's done since."

Nevison didn't know how legendary Muriel's Wedding would turn out to be.

"I didn't, although I wasn't there the whole way through. It was a very long shoot for the time, and it was a very big budget for the time - six million or so. It was Paul's [director PJ Hogan] first film he'd ever directed, and he was very nervous. Jocelyn [Moorhouse, Hogan's partner and producer of the film] of course was behind the scenes as a producer, but presumably guiding him a bit - she's a real talent."

That said, Nevison wouldn't stick around for a sequel, remarking:

"I don't think Deidre would've been at all interested in Bill once he got the kids. I think she was just interested in being taken out to dinner by a man who was, in her eyes, important - she would've gone on to find someone else, I think."

- news.com.au

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