The Criminal and the Yarn: Adapting and Performing Notoriety

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


This chapter considers the portrayal of the life of Melbourne 'standover' man Mark Brandon 'Chopper' Read, in his memoir, the film Chopper and with brief reference to subsequent documentaries and true crime exposés. It focuses on writer/director Andrew Dominik's film as an adaptation of Read's bestselling memoir, Chopper: From the Inside (1991). The chapter explores this biopic as a complex form of adaptation of life story, 'yarn', 'true crime' genre text and popular mythology of gangland Melbourne. In common with many biopics, the chief focus is on the portrayal of Chopper himself, and Eric Bana's method‐style approach to Read's character involves a highly physical performance, where display of the body and the injuries inflicted on it are central to one's understanding of the character. Eric Bana's performance as Chopper is extraordinary and career defining.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to the Biopic
EditorsDeborah Cartmell, Ashley Polasek
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781119554790
ISBN (Print)9781119554813
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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