There was a feeling of panic for Aaron Jeffery. Had he just made a huge mistake? The actor had been handed the job of a lifetime, the portrayal of Mark Chopper Read in Underbelly Files: Chopper, one he knew was a gift of a role. The only problem was, Eric Bana had beaten him to the punch (no pun intended).
Eric famously played Mark "Chopper" Read in the 2000 film Chopper. The career-making performance as one of the country's most notorious criminals turned the former Full Frontal comedian into an international star.
See the Underbelly Files: Chopper trailer in the player below.
"You have that moment of fear," Aaron, 47, tells TV WEEK of being offered the big role.
"You think, 'Oh, my God – can I do this?' Eric's portrayal of Chopper was extraordinary. Mark Read himself said that Eric did a better Chopper than him."
Curiously, Aaron had actually auditioned for the role, which eventually went to Eric. In a slightly weird twist of fate, Aaron may even have had a hand in helping Eric win the part.
His co-star, Todd Lasance, who plays Chopper's rival, Syd Collins, is enthusiastic about the experience of working with Aaron.
"He had a lot of pressure on him," Todd, 32, says. "But he was so giving in all his scenes – he wants this to be great.
"And he's so strangely perfect for Chopper, because he brings this vulnerability and sense of humour to the character."
Aaron adds: "I'd never done anything like that before, but I loved the character. You can wait around your whole life to do something like this as an actor."