Last King of the Cross’ Lincoln Younes and Claude Jabbour on making “fearless” TV in Australia

Last King of The Cross

“There’s a tendency to have a really bold idea and then pull out of it.”

There’s Australian drama, and then there’s Last King of the Cross, the gritty new series from Paramount+, and according to star Lincoln Younes, it’s paving the way for “fearless” Australian TV.

The 10-part show, which is being released on the streaming service on February 17, is a fictionalised retelling of the real-life Ibrahim brothers — John (Younes) and Sam (Claude Jabbour) — and tracks John’s rise from a poverty-stricken immigrant with no education, no money, and no prospects, to Australia’s most infamous nightclub mogul. Billed as an “operatic story”, the two brothers organise the street, living a life of debauchery and criminality; however, they lose each other in their ascent to power. 

Mediaweek podcast, The Entertainment Hotline spoke to Younes and Jabbour ahead of the series premiere about their portrayal of the brothers, how they coped with the show’s dark themes and how the series is paving the way for Australian drama.

lincoln younes claude jabbour last king of the cross

Claude Jabbour and Lincoln Younes felt a sense of “responsibility” to play the Ibrahim brothers

While the resemblance to the Ibrahim’s life is certainly unmistakable, John himself wanted the actors to find their own take on the roles and according to Younes, there was a certain pressure that came with this.

“It’s a big responsibility to take on a show like this in any kind of capacity,” he said. “I think with any kind of role, it’s our responsibility, it’s our job to take ownership of the character, whether it’s inspired by a real person, or just completely fictionalised.”

“After a certain point of research and ideas and stimulus, in terms of creating a character, you just kind of have to inhabit it and own it, and go to work.”

For Jabbour, at its core, the Ibrahim tale is a “human story” and is more than just “guns and violence”.

When you take all the like bells and whistles away, like the guns and violence, what I really loved about this story is what it really was about, brotherly love,” he said. “It’s about family, it’s about loyalty. So, these are kind of themes that you bring your own experience to, even though the events are wild and are things that we would never imagine or come across.”

lincoln younes last king of the cross

Younes and Jabbour on separating dark scenes from real life

From episode one, the series is filled with death, violence, and drugs — a far-cry from some of Younes’ other roles on Home and Away, Doctor Doctor and Eva Longoria’s Grand Hotel

Luckily, he was fortunate enough throughout his career to have training that “focused on how to go there [into a dark scene] and then pack it up and not take it into your life afterwards.”

“Sometimes there is a tendency to wallow in it,” he admitted. “And you go to those places for the sake of a scene, and it brings up all sorts of feelings in your real life, things you haven’t dealt with…If you can’t separate the two worlds, it can get pretty confusing.”

Agreering with his co-star, Jabbour admitted it was something he’s been “thinking about a lot lately.”

“In terms of those scenes, the heavier stuff, you can intellectualise it, you can make it hypothetical, you can know mentally that it’s not real, but your body still has the same chemical release,” he said. “Emotionally or viscerally it’s the same, your body’s still goes into the same state of shock.”

Last King Of The Cross

Last King of the Cross is paving the way for “fearless” Aussie drama

From the themes alone, it’s safe to say that Last King of the Cross in uninhibited in the way it boldly tells the story, something which Younes says “society wants”.

I hope this is the start, or the reinvigoration of fearless art in Australia,” he said. “Because there’s a tendency to have a really bold idea and then pull out of it. People get fearful. And what what society wants, is a bold kind of art. [They want] Real. They can deal with honesty and they can deal with directness and they can deal with gratuity when it’s steeped in narrative.”

Listen to The Entertainment Hotline with Anita Anabel here.

Stream Last King of the Cross on Paramount+ from Friday, February 17.

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