Joe Byrne was the right-hand man of infamous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. Making use of homemade steel helmets and chest plates to stop
bullets, they committed a series of robberies from 1878-80, when Kelly was
captured and hanged in Melbourne. Joe was a good shot and fine horseman.
He practiced riding down steep gullies for fun. He was also an experienced alluvial miner and could speak fluent
Cantonese having grown up amongst the Chinese diggers, which came in handy
during his numerous visits to their opium dens. Byrne was seen as one of the most glamorous gang members with his handsome
colonial boy charm and his strong opposition to police law and order. He was reputed to have a number of girlfriends in the
towns of the Kelly country, one of them being Mrs. Scott (Rachel Griffiths).
Joe Byrne died at the age of 23 when he was struck by a bullet to the groin at the Glenrowan Inn.
Quotes about Joe
"Joe Byrne was Ned's first lieutenant, a thinking man, an opium smoker
who spoke Cantonese. But he lived at a time when nothing was on offer to him. So
he was part of this huge stand for his country and for history," - Orlando Bloom
"Joe, in my mind, is kind of like Ned's right hand man. He's Ned's first
lieutenant and makes sure everything 's sorted out. Joe's the most educated of
the guys. He could read and write. He also spoke Cantonese because he hung out
with the Chinese miners at the time. He's a very interesting guy." - Orlando Bloom
"When I look at things like the fact that [my character] Joe Byrne was
in jail for three months at one time for illegal possession of meat...you start
to see how these guys ended up doing what they were doing. You think about the
hardship and the conditions they were living in and you get a better
understanding of what it was all about." - Orlando Bloom
"Joe's journey really is incredible. I had to keep reminding myself that he
was only 21 when he died because he fit a lot into so short and spectacular a
life. He fascinated me because where Ned is a fiery fighter,
Joe came at it more analytically. He was a big picture man." - Orlando Bloom
"He was a very different man from Ned Kelly. He was quiet, more thoughtful, and
Ned often relied on him for advice. He was definitely his right-hand man. Sure,
he smoked opium, but he was generally much more reserved than the other members
of the gang. The first time he was arrested it was for the possession of meat.
Can you imagine that?" - Orlando Bloom
Information about Orlando as Joe:
- For the role, Orlando had collected
information on the life of the real Joe Byrne. He even searched rare photos of
this enigmatic personage. "The only photo that I found, showed Joe dead and
hanging from a rope. I was shocked by this photo that I found in a catalog of
auction sales. I wanted to buy it but I gave up this idea because after I saw
it, I had nightmares. This photo haunted me for days. I was so much absorbed in
the character that I saw myself hung instead of him". Orlando was often right to
carry out his own stunts, and he hurt his knee. He almost lost his kneecap. The
principal character of the film is Heath Ledger who embodies the charming leader
of the gang.
- "I don't think it's a specific just to Australia. It has all the elements for a
great movie, which is why it was made. I mean, they guys were crazy. Can you
imagine walking out there in those suits of armour?" - Orlando
- "I think we all felt the ghosts of those boys close by. There were nights I
had real trouble sleeping and I blamed Joe. See, for all his composure under
fire, Joe’s opium use adds a real twistedness to his soul. That and the fact
that he has to pull the trigger on his boyhood friend to protect the gang.
That's the moment where Joe loses his innocence, because it's one thing to shoot
a stranger, another matter entirely to do it to a mate."
- "In the end, it was so rewarding playing a character who was a hero in real life
to so many Australians. It was gratifying to discover the historical details, to
explore the impact of the Kelly gang and to know the effect those men had on the
entire nation. It really moved me."
Official Site with trailers
Video and sound clips
Official Site with trailers
Ned Kelly info at ironoutlaw.com