The Castle – The Film

The Castle

Via Wikipedia – July 2015

The Castle - Kerrigan family

The Castle

The Castle is a 1997 Australian comedy film directed by Rob Sitch. It starred Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Tiriel Mora, Stephen Curry, Sophie Lee, Eric Bana and Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell. The screenwriting team comprised Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner andJane Kennedy of Working Dog Productions.

The Castle was filmed in 11 days on a budget of approximately A$750,000.[1] The film gained widespread acclaim in Australia and New Zealand, but was not widely distributed globally. It grossed A$10,326,428 at the box office in Australia and was Eric Bana’s first film.

The Castle

…just waiting on some cheap cladding….


The blue collar Kerrigan home, in the outer Melbourne suburb of Coolaroo, is filled with love as well as pride in their modest lifestyle, but their happiness is threatened when developers attempt the compulsory acquisition of their house to expand the neighbouring airport.

The Kerrigan house is built in a largely undeveloped housing tract, on a toxic landfill, and directly adjacent to an airport runway.

Despite all this, sweet-natured family patriarch Darryl (Michael Caton) believes that he lives in the lap of luxury. Blissfully unaware of his family’s lack of style or sophistication, he busies himself by driving a tow truck, racing greyhounds, and constantly adding tacky renovations to the house.

The rest of the Kerrigan clan shares and supports his enthusiasm in every way.

The Castle - Jousting sticksOne day, a property valuer arrives to inspect the house. Though he has no wish to sell, Darryl points out all the faults of the house, believing they’ll add value to the appraisal. A few weeks later, he receives a letter informing him of the compulsory acquisition of his house for the sum of A$70,000.

His neighbours (elderly Jack, divorcee Yvonne, and Farrouk and Tabulah, recent immigrants from Lebanon) all receive similar notices. Believing on common principle that the government cannot evict him unwillingly from his treasured home, Darryl attempts to fight the eviction.get stuffed

The Castle Darryl Denis

Agents from the airport try to bribe and bully the family into giving up, but their actions only stiffen the Kerrigans’ resolve. Darryl hires an incompetent lawyer acquaintance, Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora), but Dennis’ meagre argument that the eviction goes against “the vibe” of the Constitution does not go well in court.


While awaiting the court’s final decision, Darryl makes pleasant small talk with a man whom he meets outside the courthouse, Lawrence Hammill (Bud Tingwell), who has come to watch his son (a barrister) perform in court.

The Castle - Denis, Laurie, DarrylThe court rejects the family’s appeal and gives them two weeks to vacate. The purchase price for the home is scarcely enough to cover a small apartment. Dejected in defeat, the family begins to pack.

A new breath of hope comes with the surprise arrival of Lawrence, who reveals himself as a retired Queen’s Counsel. Lawrence has taken an interest in the Kerrigans’ case and offers to argue before the High Court of Australia on their behalf, pro bono.

Lawrence makes a persuasive case that the Kerrigans have the right to just terms of compensation for acquisition of property under Section 51(xxxi) of the Australian Constitution. He closes by paraphrasing Darryl’s own comments that his house is more than just a structure of bricks and mortar, but a home built with love and shared memories.

The court rules in favour of the Kerrigans, and their case becomes a landmark precedent on the subject. An epilogue shows that the Kerrigans continue to prosper happily, and Lawrence becomes a lasting friend of the family.


  • Michael Caton as Darryl Kerrigan, the patriarch of the family
  • Anne Tenney as Sal Kerrigan, his loving wife
  • Stephen Curry as Dale Kerrigan, the youngest son, digger of holes, and narrator of the film
  • Sophie Lee as Tracey Petropoulous (née Kerrigan), the family’s only daughter, a newlywed hair dresser
  • Eric Bana as Con Petropoulous, Tracey’s new husband, an accountant and amateur kickboxer
  • Anthony Simcoe as Steve Kerrigan, the middle son, an amateur inventor and “ideas man”
  • Wayne Hope as Wayne Kerrigan, the black sheep, who is serving time for armed robbery but is loved by his family regardless
  • Tiriel Mora as Dennis Denuto, a bumbling small-time lawyer who previously failed to defend Wayne on his charge
  • Costas Kilias as Farouk, the Kerrigans’ neighbour
  • Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell as Lawrence Hammill QC, a retired barrister who comes to the Kerrigans’ aid by defending them pro bono
  • John Flaus as Sgt. Kennedy, a local police officer
  • Tony Martin as Adam Hammill, Lawrence’s son (brief, mostly non-speaking cameo)
  • Ian Ross appears as himself, a Channel Nine newsreader
  • Larry Emdur appears as himself, the host of The Price is Right

Brian Dawe as Counsel for AirLinkThe Castle - Hows the serenity

The Castle - Poolroom Edition DVD

The Castle – Poolroom Edition DVD – still in the wrapper


According to Santo Cilauro, the film took five weeks from original inception to final cut. The movie was written in two weeks, shot in ten days and taken to rough cut in two weeks.[4][5]

The Castle was filmed mostly in Melbourne, Australia. The external shots of the Kerrigan household were shot at 3 Dagonet St, Strathmore, and airport footage was shot at Essendon Airport and Melbourne Airport. Location shots of Brunswick feature in the film, including Brunswick Town Hall and Rocky Porcino Pharmarcy at 720 Sydney Rd (Dennis’s office). Melbourne’s 200 Queen Street and the Supreme Court of Victoria are featured along with the High Court of Australia in Canberra.

Some of the film is set in Bonnie Doon, and a very small portion of it was shot there.


The Castle - Bonnie Doon house

The Holiday Home at Bonnie Doon – “How’s the serenity?”


The name Kerrigan was chosen for the family so that tow trucks for the film could be borrowed from an existing Melbourne tow truck company with that name. The company still operates today.[6]

In January 2011, 3491 Maintongoon Road, Bonnie Doon was listed for sale. The property appeared in the film as the Kerrigan family holiday house.[7] The property’s real estate agent reported that many people called and after requesting the vendor’s asking price, replied with a quote from the movie: “Tell him he’s dreamin’.”[8]

Alternate Versions

The Castle - this is going straight to the poolroom

Letter Opener from Thailand

In the US version, there were several minor changes to dialogue. “Rissole” was changed to “meatloaf“, “two-stroke” was changed to “diesel“, references to the Australian TV show Hey Hey It’s Saturday were changed to the more generic Funniest Home Videos (which existed in both markets), and the brand names of the various cars in the driveway were changed from uniquely Australian cars like the Camira, to ones sold in both countries like the Corolla.[9]

The Australian TV-Version for “before 8.30pm screening” has scenes of explicit language either completely cut, where possible, masked by aircraft noises or redubbed when lip movements are not visible. When broadcast after 8:30pm, all explicit language is intact.

The Castle - Pool room


  1. Kaufman, Anthony. “Interview: A man’s movie is his “Castle”- Rob Sitch’s Aussie debut”. IndieWire. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  2. Jump up^ Wills, Dominic. “Eric Bana – Biography”. Talk Talk. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  3. Jump up^ McElroy, Wendy (20 October 2006). “A Man’s Home Is His Castle”. Freedom Daily. The Future of Freedom Foundation. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  4. Jump up^ Interview with Santo Cilauro, Signit, 6 February 1997 accessed 14 October 2012
  5. Jump up^ Peter Malone, “A House is a Castle”, Cinema Papers, April 1997 p10-12
  6. Jump up^ “The Castle (1997) – Trivia”. IMDB.
  7. Jump up^ Taylor, Christian (11 January 2011). “Piece of Aussie cinema history up for sale”.Australian Times. Archived from the original on 7 March 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  8. Jump up^ Heard, Hamish (30 January 2011). “The Castle’s shack goes up for sale”. Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 7 March 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  9. Jump up^ R4 vs R1 DVD Comparison (scroll down to the section “R4 vs R1”)
  10. Jump up^ “Australian Films at the Australian Box Office”. Film Victoria. 23 September 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  11. Jump up^ Tearlach Hutchenson, “The Castle”, Cinema Papers, August/September 2000 p10-14
  12. Jump up^ “The Castle – Rotten Tomatoes”. Rotten Tomatoes.
  13. Jump up^ Roger Ebert (1999-05-04). “The Castle”.
  14. Jump up^ “100 Best Comedy Movies”. Time Out London. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
The Castle - 1997 film Australia

The Castle – Kerrigan Family