David Gulpilil, the ingenious Australian actor who gained international fame in Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout and later as Neville Bell in Paul Hogan’s Crocodile Dundee, has passed after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 68.
Gulpilil’s death was confirmed on Nov. 29 by South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall. Marshall wrote, “It is with deep sadness that I share with the people of South Australia the passing of an iconic, once-in-a-generation artist who shaped the history of Australian film and Aboriginal representation on screen – David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu (AM)… he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen.”
Gulpilil was first discovered by British filmmaker, Nicholas Roeg, when he was 16 dancing a traditional ceremonial dance and Roeg cast him in 1971’s Walkabout. Walkabout is an adventure drama about two city-born children who learn to survive in the Australian outback with the help of an indigenous boy.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Gulpilil considered his titular role in 2002’s The Tracker the best role of his career. The Tracker follows the death of a woman and a racist cop’s pursuit of the criminal. Gulpilil won multiple awards for his performance, including the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award for Best Actor.
Gulpilil was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017, and after four years he passed away in his home in South Australia.