A Q&A with Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice

BY MEL BONDFIELD

The NFSA is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Strictly Ballroom with a new online exhibition, including an exclusive interview with Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice.

Paul Mercurio in a Strictly Ballroom publicity shot, crouching down on the floor with one elbow resting on his knee and looking sideways towards the camera.

Paul Mercurio publicity image from Strictly Ballroom (1992). NFSA title no. 347696

Over the past 25 years Paul and Tara have each had prolific careers on stage, in television and on film, but it was Baz Luhrmann's low-budget flick about ballroom dancers that launched them as household names. 

Now in their fifties, they still have fond memories of making the film and developing their characters. Paul talks about identifying with Scott, the 'rebel with a cause' who danced his own steps, while Tara tells how protective she was about Fran, a character she had already played in the stage production. 

Their recollections of the shoot are mixed.

Head and shoulders shot of Tara Morice in costume for the film Strictly Ballroom.

Tara Morice publicity image for Strictly Ballroom (1992). NFSA title no. 347930

Tara recalls her anxiety about performing in front of champion ballroom dancers on day one of shooting and being terrified she would embarrass herself. Paul's main concern was a badly injured ankle, which left no time for nerves.

And both remember the excitement of starring in their first feature film.  

You can view some of the highlights from our interview below, where they discuss the legacy of Strictly Ballroom and how they are still recognised today by die-hard fans of the film, as well as a whole new generation of film lovers. 

Coming soon: More from our exclusive interview with Paul and Tara on how Strictly Ballroom shaped their careers. Plus, life after a global smash hit.