A sturdy, dependable lead with substantial romantic appeal and genre versatility, rugged Aussie performer Jack Thompson attained tremendous stardom as one of the top box-office draws in his native country. He received one of his best-known (and most visible) assignments early in his career, with lead billing on a television series: the Australian WWII adventure drama Spyforce (1971-1973).
Born Jack Payne, Thompson took his big screen bow in Fever Heat (1968), but Ken Hannam's period sheep-shearing drama Sunday Too Far Away (1975) - as a cornerstone of the New Australian Cinema - represented the actor's first and most significant career breakthrough. Indeed, Thompson's subsequent rise to stardom closely matches the rebirth and renewed prominence of Australian film during the '70s. Other notable Thompson efforts include Caddie (1976), The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), and The Man From Snowy River (1982). For his many contributions to Australian cinema, Thompson was awarded an Order of Australia and was named the country's Good Will Ambassador to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a post he served for several years.
In the late '90s - thanks in no small part to the runaway success of the international crossover hit The Sum of Us (1994) (in which Thompson plays an open-minded father supportive of his son's gay lifestyle), Thompson made the transition to Hollywood. His American credits included Clint Eastwood's offbeat drama Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) (as the defense attorney of an eccentric antique dealer); George Lucas's intergalactic romance Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (as Cliegg Lars, Luke Skywalker's step-grandfather); and Steven Soderberg's World War II drama The Good German (as a congressman). In 2008, Thompson teamed up with George Clooney and Renee Zellweger for the period football comedy Leatherheads.