David Gulpilil AM (b. 1953), actor and dancer, was born near Maningrida in Arnhem Land, a man of the Mandalbingu people. He was sixteen when the British filmmaker Nicholas Roeg saw him performing a traditional dance and cast him in Walkabout (1971). Subsequently, he appeared in Storm Boy (1976), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Last Wave (1977) and Crocodile Dundee (1986); and in television productions such as The Timeless Land, Homicide and Rush. His performance in The Tracker (2002) saw him named Best Actor at the Australian Film Institute Awards, the Inside Film Awards and the Film Critics’ Circle Awards. Other film credits include Rabbit Proof Fence (2002), The Proposition (2005), Australia (2008) and the Yolngu-language Ten Canoes (2006). Some years ago, Gulpilil returned to his ancestral lands to subsist through crocodile hunting and fishing. The contradictions and difficulties of his existence between Yolngu and balanda (European) cultures were examined in his one-man autobiographical stage show, Gulpilil (2004), conceived by Neil Armfield and Stephen Page. In 2013 Gulpilil was awarded the Red Ochre Prize, Australia’s highest peer-assessed honour for Indigenous artists, at the National Indigenous Arts Awards. His recent films are Satellite Boy (2012) and Charlie’s Country (2013).
A portrait of Gulpilil by Craig Ruddy, David Gulpilil: two worlds controversially won the Archibald Prize of 2004.