Eleven years ago, Brandon Walters was the slender Indigenous boy from small-town WA who melted hearts all over the world when he was heard referring in his iconic lilt to cattle as "cheeky bulls" in the opening scenes of Baz Luhrmann's cinematic love letter to the outback, Australia.
Both A-list actors immediately took the then-12-year-old under their wing as he prepared to perform as the wide-eyed, caramel-haired orphan Nullah.
Brandon was chosen from a selection of 1000 boys for his long, curly locks, his strong family unit and, as he himself once proclaimed, "For being good, and listening to Baz."
In the first few minutes of the film, Brandon wowed the industry by acting in an intense desert scene, in which the young fellow with no dramatic training was repeatedly and viciously "beaten" by the film's villain, Fletcher, played by David Wenham.
Because of his jaw-dropping natural acting talent, it didn't take long for big plans to be hatched at Fox HQ in Sydney to make little Brandon a star – a blueprint for stardom that was never made a reality. In the blink of an eye, Hollywood's newest young intake unexpectedly fell off the radar, aside from a brief 2012 appearance in ABC TV show Bushwhacked! when he was 16.
Until now, when It's Your Day caught up with Brandon – who's now 23 years old, living in Broome, WA and a father of two sons, a toddler and a newborn, with his partner Kanishah.
It's something of a surprise to hear Brandon's voice at the other end of the phone – gone is Nullah's infectious childish cadence, replaced by the deep voice of a grown man, but remaining is his infectious Aussie accent and turn of phrase.
"It's been a loooong story since then," he teases, as his two-year-old son Quade coos in the background of the early morning chat.
"My partner Kanishah and I met in high school and have Quade, who is nearly three and we just had another baby, a boy," Brandon says with a smile. "He was a couple of months early though so he's still in hospital."
WATCH: Brandon's former co-star Nicole Kidman speaks about being back home in Australia. Story continues after video...
During his exclusive interview with us, Brandon reveals some incredible news – that after all these years of living in the shadows of stardom, he's relaunching his acting career through a popular ABC show, which also lists as actors, among others, big Aussie names Aaron Pedersen, Judy Davis, Deborah Mailman and Colin Friels.
"I'm actually doing some filming next week for a TV series, Mystery Road," he reveals. "They film out near here. I can't tell you exactly what I'm doing because it's a surprise, but I'm only acting in one scene. It's worth it. I didn't audition, they found me in Broome."
Brandon's new role comes after a long time of "doing a bit of work here and there", including a stint of employment in the local mines. "I disappeared off the map. I got slack," he admits. "I couldn't be bothered looking for a job so I decided to go back to acting."
And he's hoping his brief appearance on Mystery Road will lead to another chance to go on to bigger things. "My dream is to act with Hollywood actors. I want to work with Chris Hemsworth. I haven't met him, but I'd love to. I like watching him in Thor, plus he's Australian," he says.
"I went to LA and New York [after Australia]. It was a long way from home. I remember walking down Hollywood Boulevard and feeling really weird," Brandon says of his brief time overseas.
The bright lights of Tinseltown couldn't be more different to Broome, with a small population of just 14,000.
"I go fishing and hunting, but there aren't many fun things to do in Broome," says Brandon. "Bad things happen here, too. There's a lot of violence, drugs, alcohol, people fighting. I grew up around that."
Brandon was born and raised in the town by his dad Peter and mum Janie, in an unremarkable, government-funded rental home in the centre of Broome.
The family often scrabbled for cash – even after their son's movie hit the big screens, pulling together $160 a week for petrol was a big ask – and struggled even further when they were dealt a terrifying health blow after discovering little Brandon – who was only six at the time – was diagnosed with leukaemia.
"[It] was hard for my parents and I felt sad for me," he said back in 2009. "I didn't think that way [that I was going to die]. [My head] was just skin, shaved. It made me really sick, but I just prayed for myself and made myself better. I got better from eating a lot of bush tucker – kangaroo, all kinds of fresh meat, you know. And it came true. I got better."
When Brandon was cast in Australia, it seemed his family had finally cut a break and found its fortune. But despite the film grossing $211 million worldwide, along with the youngster being cast in a $40 million tourism campaign, in which he encouraged visitors to "go walkabout", it has been reported that Brandon netted just $120,000 for his role in the epic flick.
With his earnings, he bought his parents a second-hand Nissan Patrol and two motorbikes. Paul says they also put cash aside for Brandon, "for when he's older".
There has also been very little said about Nicole's promise at the time of filming "to protect" the little boy. "If the film does well, he's going to need protection," she said at a press conference as she stroked his hair.
There were reports at the time that Nicole and Baz planned to set up an education fund for Brandon. When asked about this, he confirmed she made good on her offer – but he turned her down.
"Nicole wanted me to go to school in Sydney, to acting school. And I didn't want to go. I was too young. I didn't want to be alone," Brandon admits.
When all the hullabaloo surrounding the film faded, so did Brandon's contact with its A-list ensemble, aside from the ever-friendly Hugh Jackman.
"I heard from Hugh Jackman. He sent me a video a few years back," Brandon recalls. "It was him and his son, and he told me he wanted to catch up, but that's about it."
And while we wait with bated breath for the once-upon-a-time star to be a permanent fixture on our screens again, the grassroots Broome-based father acknowledges that he is somewhat a private family man and is getting his head around the attention he attracts.
"I never use social media any more because hundreds of people add me every day, from all around the world," he says. "It's very weird!"
Although it seems Brandon disappeared into obscurity 11 years ago, to many dedicated fans he's still adorable little Nullah from one of the all-time great Australian movies. We remember him as the "creamy" boy blessed with Dreamtime magic, who called his adoptive mother – Nicole's character Lady Sarah Ashley – "Mrs Boss" and was determined to go walkabout.
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