"I didn't really surmise anything. I never felt pressured to come up with some kind of definitive explanation, or judgement of him. It's like someone you might hate in the media, but then you hear they're a really nice person but you actually don't want to know about it. It's the same with Chopper. People who read his books might like him because of the image he put forward, but the more politically correct might think him an idiot because he's a criminal. Somewhere in between all that, there's a judgement for those who want to judge." -Eric Bana on Mark Read
Eric Bana is Mark "Chopper" Read, real-life convict and bestselling author of "How to Shoot Friends and Influence People." His story is frightening, savagely funny and twisted. The son of a devoutly religious mother and a one-time soldier with a fondness for sleeping alongside a loaded gun, Chopper dreams of making a name for himself as a legendary crime figure. His journey starts out as a wisecracking criminal failure, inside a maximum-security prison, but he manages to twist his life into a fascinating and wickedly funny take that the press and the public can't get enough of.
Click here to watch a scene from Chopper:
Taglines: Never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.
The truth, the half-truth, and nothing like the truth.
Eric Bana spent 2 days living with Mark "Chopper" Read so he could get a better understanding of how to play his character in the film.
Mark "Chopper" Read suggested that Eric Bana play Chopper, after seeing him in the sketch comedy series "Full Frontal".
Read wrote his first book Chopper: From the Inside while incarcerated in Melbourne's Pentridge Prison. It contains tales and anecdotes of his criminal and prison exploits in 1991. Attempts were made to ban a children's book written by Read titled Hooky the Cripple. The story is set in the sixteenth century. It is about a hunchbacked son of a prostitute who stabs a bullying butcher in the head 21 times, and eventually goes to trial for murder.
Chopper getting his ears sliced off with a razor blade (not for the faint of heart):
Chopper: Why would I shoot a bloke BANG, then drive him to the bloody car and wizz him off to the hospital at a hundred miles an hour? It defeats the purpose of having shot him in the first place.
Chopper: I'm just a bloody normal bloke. A normal bloke who likes a bit of torture.
Chopper: Jimmy, if you keep stabbing me, you're going to kill me.
Chopper: Look, you're not still angry at me about the leg, are you?
Neville Bartos: Nah, forget about it.
Chopper: Because I don't know if you remember, Neville, but I had that bloody shotgun pointed at your head. I reconsidered and dropped it down to your kneecap. Remember?
Neville Bartos: Forget about it. All right?
Chopper: I mean, what the bloody hell were you doing getting lippy at me with a bloody shotgun? I had a bloody loaded shotgun.
Neville Bartos: The leg is okay, all right?
Interviewer: You've written a best-seller...
Chopper: Yeah, I know - and I can't even bloody spell. What about those poor bloody academics, those college graduates, battling their guts out to write some airy-fairy piece of exaggerated artwork? And here's a bloke, sitting in a cell, who can't spell, and he's written a best-seller. It's sold two hundred and fifty thousand copies. And it's still selling. And he's writing another one. And I can't even spell. I'm semi-bloody-illiterate.
Chopper: Even Beethoven had his critics. See if you can name three of them.
Here is a list of Chopper Read's criminal convictions:
At the age of 17, Read was sentenced to one month's imprisonment on assault related charges.
In 1974, at the age of 19, he was again imprisoned for one month on charges of carrying an offensive weapon.
He later received a good behaviour bond for charges of assaulting police.
In May 1975 he was convicted of robbery and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.
In December 1975 he was convicted of armed robbery and received a further one-year sentence.
In 1978, at the age of 23, he was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.
Five weeks later Read was sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment on abduction-related charges for the attempted abduction of a County Court judge while on parole.
In 1978 Read was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment for a parole breach.
In 1981, while imprisoned, he stabbed a fellow prisoner in the neck using a pair of scissors and was sentenced to a further three months' imprisonment.
In October 1989 he was convicted on two charges of being in possession of an unregistered pistol.
In November 1989 he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for malicious injury and wilful damage. He was also convicted of recklessly endangering life for shooting a man in the stomach and setting fire to the house of a known drug dealer.
Chopper Read describes how he robbed drug dealers: