A CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH ULTRAMAN IN THE OUTBACK! Jay Hackett on Acting in ‘Ultraman: Towards the Future’!

Photo © Jay Hackett.

Jay Hackett is an Australian actor whose path crossed with Ultraman in the early 1990s. In Ultraman: Towards the Future (1992), Mr. Hackett appears in three episodes of the series ( “Signs of Life,” “The Hibernator,” and “Blast from the Past”) as astronaut Stanley Haggard, who gets taken over by the evil alien Gudis. Of particular note, one of his earliest acting credits is the Australian coming-of-age tale Puberty Blues (1981), directed by Bruce Beresford of Driving Miss Daisy (1989) fame. In January 2022, Mr. Hackett shared his Ultraman memories with Brett Homenick.

Brett Homenick: Could you share some information about your background? For example, where were you born, and where did you grow up?

Jay Hackett: Born in the Boonwurrung indigenous area, in other words, the Bayside region of South East Melbourne.

BH: How did you become an actor?

JH: At 17, [I] got a job in radio to get into Equity, to get an agent, and therefore acting work. I was keen to be a zoologist due to an interest in nature but chose the next option, acting, as it didn’t require five years at uni. At the age of 13 or so, I did drama classes [on] a weekend somewhere — it was on a campus of sorts, somewhere in Melbourne — then, at 16, thanks to my parents taking me along to their productions, I joined the Mordialloc Theatre Company. Moved to Sydney in 1981 after going there to join the [TSS] Fairstar [cruise ship] as a DJ, and found roles in TV productions, and then the film Puberty Blues (1981).

BH: How did you get cast on Ultraman: Towards the Future (1992)?

JH: I was working on [the TV miniseries] Come in Spinner (1990) for the ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] when, during filming, was asked to go to the Hotel Gazebo to meet the producers of Ultraman.

BH: Where were the Mars scenes shot?

JH: The Mars scenes were shot somewhere just outside Adelaide in some quarry-like location that had red dirt, can’t quite remember the exact place — maybe Hawker [a town in South Australia].

BH: What was it like in the spacesuit? Was it hot? Difficult to hear?

JH: Wasn’t in the suit for long, but, yes, it was hot. Part of the gig, I guess. You don’t complain about such things.

BH: Where was the spaceship interior filmed?

JH: All the internal stuff was shot at Hendon Studios.

BH: Your character is revealed to be under the control of Gudis.

JH: Gudis occupied Stan [my character], so then I was playing a human Gudis, sort of like a bad guy in a James Bond film — at least that’s what it looks like now.

The cover of the Japanese Mini CD tie-in for Ultraman: Towards the Future. Photo courtesy of Jay Hackett.

BH: Do you remember what approach you tried playing the human Gudis?

JH: To be honest, [I] didn’t think that much about playing a human Gudis. The whole thing’s basically a live-action cartoon.

BH: What was it like to work with Dore Kraus? How about Gia Carides?

JH: Dore was lovely — not terribly chatty and took it all rather seriously, but Gia and Lloyd [Morris] were already friends, so it was fun to work with them.

BH: Do you have memories of other cast or crew members?

JH: Grace was a delight, but Ralph Cotterill stood out as a slightly eccentric but highly interesting person.

BH: Could you tell us a bit about how Ralph Coterill was eccentric?

JH: The Ralph comment was more about the fact that he’s interesting and a bit different. Although our time was relatively brief, I liked that about him.

BH: Do you have any memories of director Andrew Prowse that you could share?

JH: Andrew was like a gentle giant of a director, fairly quiet with a sense of humor.

BH: How long did it take you to film your scenes?

JH: The filming took place over a month or two in Adelaide.

BH: Do you have any other memories from the set you could share?

JH: I remember developing an intolerance of tequila after one of the department “rounds” – maybe [it was the] sound [department] — or after-work drinks session. Each week, one department — actors, camera, sound, wardrobe, etc. — would conduct the Friday drinks, and on one occasion I had too much tequila. It was a fun time shooting this show in and around the S.A. [South Australian] capital, enjoying good restaurants and pubs.

BH: Which was your favorite episode you were in?

JH: My favorite bit in the show is when Stan turns into Gudis [episode 5, “Blast from the Past”].

BH: What did you think of the overall experience?

JH: Overall, it was a great experience working with the Japanese producers and Aussie crew. As an addendum, I convinced the powers that be that I could sing after giving them a demo tape, and, a short while after filming finished, I was flown to Tokyo, looked after very nicely by the Tsuburaya [Productions] people, and sang the theme song to the series at a studio in town.

I had attempted to home dye my hair blond, but the result had me standing out as one of the few redheads in downtown Shinjuku. I thank the lovely folk in Tokyo for looking after me, especially Kazuo Kogure and Tadashi Nakamura.

The lyrics to the English-language songs Jay Hackett sings on the Ultraman: Towards the Future Mini CD. Photo courtesy of Jay Hackett.

BH: Would you happen to know who wrote the English lyrics to the song?

JH: Can’t help you with regard to who wrote the songs. Perhaps, if the inside sleeve can be translated, that info may be there. [The lyrics are credited to Yoko Narahashi.]

BH: How many takes did you do to record it?

JH: Yes, several takes. I’m not the most accomplished vocalist.

BH: Overall, how long was the process of recording?

JH: Recorded over the course of one day, with a cultural piss-up [a social gathering with a lot of drinking] afterwards.

BH: When you were in Japan, what other things did you get to do or see?

JH: Mainly food-based activities apart from a bit of a tour around town, you know, some cherry blossom gardens, shopping centers. Some nice sushi in a tiny, six-seater restaurant in Roppongi and my first taste of shabu-shabu, or “splash-splash.”

BH: Would you like to make any closing comments for this interview?

JH: Thank you, Brett, for showing an interest on this subject.

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