Peter Weir, who directed Gulpilil in The Last Wave (1977), talks about his 'star quality':
David’s a very special case. As a director you don’t very often strike an actor with the qualities that he has. A kind of inner light. I didn’t really direct David; I just watched, and that as I say is rare. And [I] sometimes asked for a little more or a little less and he was truly inspired in that film and he gave a great deal of himself in that part. And as I was watching him I was asking myself, ‘What has he got?’ and it’s a very simple answer - it’s a star quality. David Gulpilil is a star. A film star.