News Source: The TV Guide, page 26-27, 6 September, 2002
Steve Irwin has two great loves – his wife Terri and crocodiles. Lucky for him, his first movie stars both. The Crocodile Hunter talks to Jenny Cooney Carrillo – and brings along a supporting cast of wildlife.
"Isn't she beautiful?" gestures Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin as he hoists an albino Burmese python called Lemon around his neck. Steve has just let go of two fox cubs named Frankie and Freddie and is also petting a large lizard named Rebecca.
"My life is a dream. I'm surrounded by the most beautiful animals on the face of the Earth all the time so as soon as I feel like I am losing the passion, mate, next thing you know Rebecca here will come into my life and then it's rekindled again."
The boyish-looking Aussie sounds just like his breathless persona on the documentary series The Crocodile Hunter as he sprinkles his conservation with trademark phrases like "crikey", "mate" and "isn't she gorgeous?"
Steve, 40, and wife Terri are talking about their first feature film, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. But the couple, who are watched by 1.5 million people every week in the US on the Animal Planet network, are just as excited about what their new movie could mean for conservation.
"We're out there as wildlife warriors defending and fighting for wildlife and wilderness areas," Steve says. "Animals communicate with me. It's a gift that I was blessed with that I am now able to share with the world. Here we are on the big screen with what I believe is our greatest conservation message yet."
Steve and Terri met 10 years ago when Terri Rains, an American expert on predatory mammals, visited the Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland – opened by Steve's parents Bob and Lyn in 1970 and taken over by Steve when his father retired in 1991. Terri fell in love with the extraordinary Aussie. He took her wrestling crocodiles on their honeymoon just a few months later.
In The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, the charismatic couple play themselves, caught in a fictitious story involving a fallen spy satellite traced by the American CIA to the croc-infested terrain of Northern Queensland. When the pair are hired to relocate a troublesome croc, the CIA become convinced they are secret agents who have stolen the confidential contents.
"I am not an actor. I don't even think I'm that much of a performer," Steve confesses. "But I'm a conservationist through and through."
"I've just seen the movie for the first time and it's going to take 10 years to knock the passion back out of me, mate, even if I was stuck in solitary confinement in a Bangkok jail. Not since Gorillas In the Mist has there been a movie with so much conservation rubbing off."
Of course, Steve knows he isn't the first Australian to make it in Hollywood with the help of a crocodile. "I've never met Paul Hogan but I have the upmost respect for him," he says. "I remember I used to try and sneak out of bed to watch the telly when I was a kid just to catch a bit of Hoges because he was the greatest crack-up, one of our finest comedians. And Crocodile Dundee was my favourite movie of course."
"But Mick Dundee the character is a crocodile poacher so that's a very serious offense and I've been put on this planet to protect crocs so Dundee better be a little careful in my territory. If he crosses me, I'll take him out!"
Unlike Hoges, however, Steve won't be getting rich off the profits of his multi-million-dollar film and TV contract. "Every cent we earn goes back into conservation," he confirms.
"Australia Zoo is where our heart beats, where we have over 250 acres and it's increasing and stemming out to other places in Australia were conservation is needed. And we're also doing big work with our neighbours in East Timor where we had a project doing some rescue work with crocodiles, and projects in Vanuatu, Western Samoa, Fiji and all through the South Pacific."
Travelling with the couple of their whirlwind promotional tour is their three-year-old daughter Bindi Sue (named after Bindi, Steve's favourite croc, and his dog Sue).
"Fair dinkum, I love my daughter so much I'm thinking about keeping her," Steve jokes.
Ask about the sequel to Crocodile Hunter and Steve grins. "Sure we're talking about it," he nods, "but our first priority is making a little brother or sister for Bindi Sui!"