Gladys? Gladys? Ex-premier shines in new role

Secrecy surrounds the start of filming of the much-anticipated sequel to the 1994 smash hit Australian film Muriel’s Wedding.

Backers of the film remain tight-lipped about the entire project, but I can report that filming of exterior scenes is well under way on location in the NSW town of Wagga Wagga.

While a sequel has been talked about ever since Toni Collette introduced us to the wildly dysfunctional Muriel Heslop almost three decades ago, there has been little interest from investors fearful of disappointing audiences by not matching the brilliance of the original movie.

But all that changed when the director of both the original and its sequel, PJ Hogan, had the idea of casting NSW ex-premier Gladys Berejiklian and her former boyfriend, disgraced Liberal Party ex-MP Daryl Maguire in lead roles.

“The sequel allows PJ to take the Muriel story in another direction,” a source on set told me.

“While Muriel’s Wedding naturally revolved around Toni Collette’s character, the as yet unnamed sequel focusses more on Muriel’s father, Bill Heslop, and his relationship with his illicit but still obvious lover Deidre Chambers whom film fans will recall always seemed to pop up supposedly unexpectedly.

“Bill Heslop is a low-level, low-rent local politician with big dreams and big ideas for the development of his community Porpoise Spit encapsulated by his mantra ‘you can’t stop progress’ – all mostly to be achieved by illegal or corrupt means.

“So PJ wanted to focus the sequel on the relationship between the Bill Heslop and Deidre Chambers characters which he thought had a lot of unexplored potential.

“But sadly veteran Aussie film star Bill Hunter who played Bill Heslop died a decade ago and PJ had almost given up trying to cast the role until he struck on the idea of asking Daryl Maguire to fill it.

“Gennie Nevinson who played Deidre in Muriel’s Wedding was unavailable so PJ took a punt and asked Gladys Berejiklian to fill that role.

“Both she and Daryl Maguire readily agreed to sign on – mainly because they need the money for legal fees – and they’ve already shot several scenes together.” (main picture)

My source said Maguire agreed to be involved but only if he received a percentage of the box office and only if exterior scenes were shot in Wagga Wagga, even though extra costs would be incurred to make the town resemble the fictional beachside community of Porpoise Spit.