By Grace Jennings-Edquist
“Jacob Coote is not necessarily handsome in the traditional sense, but he is really sexy. He is also utterly engaging and charming. He should be a rockstar.”
So reads the character description from the original film script for Looking for Alibrandi. That description, printed on a small time-worn rectangle of paper, is kept tucked inside the wallet of Kick Gurry, the Melbourne-born actor who played Jacob Coote in the film version of the Melina Marchetta book.
Kick is FaceTiming me from Los Angeles. He’s lived there ever since his big break playing Jacob in Alibrandi back in 2000. And, the 38-year-old says, he still gets recognised as that character regularly.
“People ask, is it still weird to still be associated with something from so long ago?,” he says. “But it has never bothered me even one percent of one percent. What I’m amazed at is that the film still resonates with people that watch it now. The themes of the movie still resonates with young girls, and it sort of makes me feel good about the world.”
He’s right. The movie — which featured on the must-watch list of all teen girls of the ’90s — still evokes a pang of nostalgia among Australian women in their late 20s today. Who couldn’t relate to the dorky, sweet-natured protagonist Josie Alibrandi? And who didn’t secretly prefer motorbike-riding, condom-carrying love interest Jacob Coote over neatly combed private schoolboy John Barton?
Kick clearly still feels connected to the project too, describing it as “very dear” to him and remarking that he still shares a “really amazing” friendship with Pia Miranda, who played Josie.
Being cast as the ultimate Aussie teen heartthrob at such a young age also helped his chances with girls, Kick admits. “It was a green light for some debauched years,” he says. “My friend used to call it ‘the gift that never stops giving.’ I think sometimes my friend took it out for a ride more than I did at times.”
Jacob was a pretty intimidating character to tackle as a breakthrough role, too. Kick recalls telling his sister he was reading for the part and her response: “She’s like, ‘Oh my God, everyone’s in love with him [in the book,] he’s amazing’,” he says. “The pressure!”
But the moment opened the script and read Jacob’s famous speech at Have a Say Day, Kick realised how much he had in common with Jacob. Relating to the character helped him relax into the role: “I’ve always felt a real synergy with him as a character, as a human being; I have a lot of really close relationships with women and I treasure them more than anything,” he says.
“Jacob, in the book and the movie, because his mother died, [that] gives him this infinite and never-ending resect for women in general,” Kick explains. “He was this raw character but there was a gentle side to him that would exist when he was with Josie. It was, in many ways, the modern version of the knight in shining armour.”
So, does he meet mothers?
Kick flashes a smile at the question, recognising it as a reference to Jacob’s initial refusal to meet Josie’s mum. “I’m always inclined to meet people’s mothers pretty quickly,” he says diplomatically. “I think it’s very telling. I think you learn a lot about a woman just because of who their mother is; they don’t fall too far from the tree.”
And yeah, it might be my inner teen talking (adolescent Grace, if only you could see me now), but as Kick tells me toward the end of our chat: “If a girl loves you when they’re 15, they love you forever.”
Aw, stop it. I’m blushing.
PS. We’re running a whole series of teen crushes from the ’90s. DM us your nominations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the rest of Issue #6: