• Dharug man Richard Green passed away on July 23. (Supplied by family)Source: Supplied by family
Well-known and loved actor Richard Green overcame a tough upbringing and a prison cell before carving out a successful career where he starred in 26 films. He passed away at his home on Friday.
Douglas Smith

28 Jul 2021 - 2:41 PM  UPDATED 28 Jul 2021 - 2:48 PM

The passing of Aboriginal actor Richard Green over the weekend has shocked his colleagues, friends and family, who have remembered him as an authentic actor with a natural talent.  

The Dharug man, who was a much-loved father and grandfather, passed away at his Sydney home from heart complications on Friday.

Throughout his career, he performed in 26 films on both big and small screens, as well as working in various roles for different productions. 

However, earlier in life, Green had plenty of obstacles he had to overcome.

As a teenager he left home, running away from family violence.

“He had a really rough childhood and upbringing… it was pretty traumatic and he suffered a lot of violence up until the age of thirteen and then he went out on his own," his daughter Jessica told NITV News. 

“At the age of thirteen, he became a street kid pretty much and looked after himself." 

As the oldest of five siblings, Green was tasked with providing for his brothers and sisters from a young age. 

Doing what he could to survive, he was caught stealing and wound up in the justice system as a teenager. 

He first started acting in 1998, when art imitated life as he played a prisoner.

“He was in jail at the time when he made that movie,” his daughter Jessica told NITV News.  

“Two/Out was a film that was filmed in the prison.   

“It was set in a jail cell, the whole thing and from there he’s acting career just took off."

Two/Out Director Kriv Stenders, who met Green in Sydney's Long Bay Jail in 1997, said he was an "extraordinary character" with an "overwhelming fountain of talent."

Following his release from prison, Green decided to turn his life around and started showing more interest in the performing arts. 

“I think he started engaging in the arts and the media back then in his twenties," Jessica said.

“I’d say he predominantly started out as a writer, that’s how he started. Always writing, poetry, books, he never stopped writing.

“When he started slowing down with his crazy lifestyle, he started teaching and in amongst teaching, he studied music, he studied arts, he studied media things and in amongst that, all of these amazing things started happening.”

Throughout his career, Green earned diplomas in contemporary music and in film and television. 

He was best known for his many roles in iconic Australian movies including 'Praise', 'Jew Boy', 'Little Fish', 'Boxing Day', 'Snowtown', 'The Confessions of Alexander Pearce', and the 2014 Guy Pearce movie, 'The Rover'. 

On TV screens, he acted in 'Redfern Now' and 'The Gods of Wheat Street', where co-director, Adrian Wills praised him for bringing his own "authenticity" to the show.

“Richard was an absolute dream to direct, he was incredibly intelligent as most good actors are, and there was a fierce intelligence about him and curiosity," Mr Wills told NITV News. 

“I guess in the industry, what I’ve come across, especially with us blackfullas, is an incredible sense of authenticity and an ability of storytelling and he was like a triple threat.

“He was a storyteller, he was a dancer, he was a song man, he was a writer, a poet, a cultural warrior and a leader as well.”

Pitjantjatjara, Warrigmal and South Sea actress and close friend, Elaine Crombie told NITV News that she had been reflecting on her time with Green for the past few days since his passing.

“We were a part of that Sydney artist family," she said. 

“He was one of the greatest you know, like, that’s my personal opinion. I believe he was one of our finest Australian actors, Aboriginal actors….a strong cultured man.

“Like Redfern Now, you can just see that his depth of who he was as a serious actor, a comedy actor, you know, surrounded by the right people we can all shine and he was always the right people.”

Outside of acting, Green had many other talents from playing music to teaching the Dharug language to children in schools and boys' homes around Sydney's western suburbs. 

“What we loved most about our dad is that he was genuine… and he was himself, what you saw is what you got," Jessica said.

“You either totally loved my dad and was amazed by him, or sometimes he was too much for you. It was one or the other.

"But, he was unapologetically himself, a gentle soul who had not one bit of hatred in him and just wanted to say hello to the world and encourage everybody that he met.

“If you were ever able to meet my dad and you shook his hand, you would feel like you’ve just made a friend for life, and that’s who he was and that’s what we admired about him.”

Before his passing, Green was working on the production of the upcoming film, Pemulwuy: The Movie as a dialect coach. 

Richard Green was 58 years old.

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