WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Though far from famous, Joe Windred is an extraordinary Australian hero. A strapping, handsome man who overcame a lame foot to become a champion sportsman in 1800’s Windsor on Sydney’s Hawkesbury River, Joe’s life fell apart when he was framed for a violent robbery, and shipped off to Van Diemen’s Land for four years. Upon his return home, Joe became an accomplished prize fighter, before the sport fell from favour after protests from the conservative powers-that-be. Joe’s spirits were brightened when he met and fell in love with Mary Douglas, the tough, independent daughter of a convict. The pair eventually set sail for the gold rush in San Francisco, where Australians surprisingly made up a third of the population – at the time, it was quicker to get there from Australia by boat than it was from the US East Coast by land. Joe and Mary settled in Sydney Valley, and became part of the despised Aussie community sneeringly referred to as The Sydney Ducks (so called because they arrived in suits made of duck cloth). Then, eleven years to the day that he was framed in Windsor, Joe was again accused of a wholly separate and equally brutal crime that he didn’t commit, leading to the formation of a massive, anti-Australian vigilante mob, and Joe’s eventual incarceration. With Mary’s help, Joe escaped, and they fled back to Australia, where the couple struck it rich in the Bathurst gold rush, and then opened a popular pub in Sydney. After witnessing the massacre of Chinese miners at the notorious Lambing Flat (his against-the-grain support of the victimised Chinese saw his pub in the area close down), Joe settled in quiet, rural Orange, where he struck it rich again, this time with copper. His good name restored, Joe Windred was eventually elected mayor of the town twice, before – in a twist of delicious irony – ultimately serving as a justice of the peace.
WHY WOULD IT MAKE A GOOD MOVIE?
This story literally has everything: a tall, handsome hero; two disastrous cases of mistaken identity; a sweeping romance; prisons; daring escapes; riots; a massacre; public hangings; vigilante mobs; and a big, entertaining, largely unheralded slab of Aussie history.
WHO SHOULD MAKE IT?
With the smash hit, Red Dog, Kriv Stenders proved that he could tell a bold, sprawling, colourful, picaresque true story rooted in myth – the exact qualities that would make Mistaken Identity really soar.
WHO SHOULD BE IN IT?
Who better to play the tall and handsome Joe Windred than the tall and handsome Chris Hemsworth, currently riding a wave of burgeoning superstardom thanks to his pivotal position as The Mighty Thor in The Marvel Cinematic Universe (along with roles in the likes of The Huntsman: Winter’s War, In The Heart Of The Sea, Rush, and the upcoming Ghostbusters); Abbie Cornish would be a great match for the plucky Mary, while flashy supporting roles could go to Ben Mendelsohn (as Henry Nichols, the Machiavellian career criminal who frames Joe in Windsor); Ryan Kwanten (as Tom, Joe’s equally unlucky best mate); and Guy Pearce (as myth-making outlaw, English Jim Stewart, “the most wanted man in San Francisco”).