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Steve Bisley
Steve Bisley-2.jpg
Bisley in February 2012
Born (1951-12-26) 26 December 1951 (age 71)
Occupation(s)Actor, writer
Years active1968-present
Sally Burleigh
(m. 2000; div. 2006)

Steve Bisley (born 26 December 1951) is an Australian writer, film and television actor. He is best known for his roles in the films Mad Max and The Great Gatsby. On TV, some of his better-known roles include Detective Sergeant Jack Christey on Water Rats and Jim Knight on Doctor Doctor.

Early life

Bisley was born at Lake Munmorah, New South Wales and grew up on a small farm called Stillways.[1] The son of schoolteachers, he moved to Sydney just after his seventeenth birthday. After a few years of working in various jobs, he enrolled in the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), graduating with a degree in acting in 1977. Other actors in his class included Mel Gibson, Judy Davis, Debra Lawrance and Sally McKenzie.[2]


While still training at NIDA, Bisley and his friend Mel Gibson made their film debuts in Summer City (1977). Towards the end of the course, they were approached by director George Miller and asked to audition for parts in Mad Max (1979). Both were successful and Bisley went on to play "Jim Goose", the best friend and partner to Gibson's titular character. Mad Max has since become a cult classic and it launched Mel Gibson to mainstream stardom. After this, Bisley played the lead role in the thriller The Chain Reaction (1980), with Mel Gibson making a brief appearance. His other early film credits include roles in The Highest Honor (1983), The Winds of Jarrah (1983), Fast Talking (1984) and Silver City (1984).

In 1980, Bisley played Joe Byrne in The Last Outlaw, a critically acclaimed TV mini-series about Ned Kelly. He was also seen in A Town Like Alice, The Boy in the Bush and the original 1985 miniseries of the medical drama The Flying Doctors.

In 1986, he and his family temporarily relocated to London where he took the lead role in the BBC series Call Me Mister.[3]

Back in Australia, he played the lead role in the 1988 TV movie The Clean Machine. For his role as Inspector Ed Riordan, he won the Best Actor in a One-off Drama accolade at the 1988 Penguin Awards.[4] In 1990 he co-starred with Ben Mendelsohn in the cult teen comedy The Big Steal. His performance as shonky car salesman Gordon Farkas remains one of his most remembered roles.

In 1992, Bisley joined the cast of Police Rescue, playing Senior Sergeant Kevin 'Nipper' Harris. He appeared in 29 episodes, leaving in 1995. He was next seen as Dr Henry King in the ABC-TV series G.P. After this, he became a regular on the third and final season of the critically acclaimed satirical television series Frontline.

In 1998, he began to appear as a guest in Nine’s police drama series Water Rats, playing Detective Jack Christey. The following year, he became one of the lead actors on the show, replacing Colin Friels who had quit due to ill health. Bisley left the show in 2001 but it turned out that his final episode was also the series’ swansong.

Also a stage actor, Bisley has appeared in drama productions. His stage roles include parts in Ray Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1985/1995) and as Banjo Paterson in the musical theatre production of The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular (August–October 2002). In July 2003, he presented a season of television documentaries on the National Geographic Channel.

From 2007-2009, he played CMDR Steve Marshall on Sea Patrol. From 2016-2018. he was seen in the first two series of Doctor Doctor, playing the father of the lead character. In 2016, Bisley appeared as Harry Firth in the two-part Australian miniseries Brock on Network Ten. The miniseries was based on the life of Australian motor racing legend Peter Brock.[5]

In 2013, he appeared as Dan Cody in Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby. He was also seen in the Australian films Red Hill (2010) and Boar (2017). He has revealed that he turned down a role in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film Romeo + Juliet because he read the script and thought "this is going nowhere".[6]. In 2022 he appeared in Mystery Road:Origins.

In 2013, Bisley published his first book, called Stillways: A Memoir. The book recounted his life growing up in Lake Munmorah, finishing when he was in his mid-teens. The book was well-received and was subsequently shortlisted for the 2014 Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards, the Queensland Literary Awards, and the 2014 National Biography Award. In 2017, Bisley published his second book, a memoir called All the Burning Bridges. Picking up where Stillways had left off, it covered his adult life. He has said he does not plan to write any more memoirs. Instead, he is concentrating on writing his first novel.

Personal life

Steve Bisley has been married once. Prior to his marriage, he had four children with long-time partner Shauna Forrest.[7] During the 1980s Forrest was a costume designer for models and actresses.[8]

He married Sally Burleigh, a media publicist, in 2000. They had two children before divorcing in 2006.[9] In September 2009 Bisley was charged with assaulting Burleigh and, on 15 September 2010, he was found guilty and sentenced to 300 hours of community service.[10][11] Bisley lodged an appeal against the conviction.[11] In July 2013 while promoting his autobiography, Stillways: A Memoir, he described the assault as "a push and shove incident with high emotion displayed on both sides".[7]


Bisley's plaque at the Australian Film Walk of Fame, Ritz Cinema, Randwick, Sydney
Bisley's plaque at the Australian Film Walk of Fame, Ritz Cinema, Randwick, Sydney






  1. ^ Bisley, Steve (2013). Stillways. Fourth Estate. ISBN 9780732297848.
  2. ^ "NIDA - All alumni".
  3. ^ Bisley, Steve (2017). All the Burning Bridges - A Memoir. Bonnier Echo. ISBN 9781760400842.
  4. ^ Hook, Barbara (21 November 1988). "Doogue aside, Penguins look good". The Age. Retrieved 4 February 2021 – via of an open green padlock
  5. ^ Brock at the Internet Movie Data Base
  6. ^ "Steve Bisley Reveals The Roles He's Turned Down".
  7. ^ a b "Home Truths". The Australian. News Corp Australia. 13 July 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  8. ^ Flynn, Greg (7 April 1982). "Costume Play for Kim". The Australian Women's Weekly. Supplement: TV & Entertainment World. National Library of Australia. p. 146. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Actor Steve Bisley charged with assaulting ex-wife Sally Burleigh". The Australian. News Corp Australia. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Actor Steve Bisley found guilty of assaulting Sally Burleigh". The Daily Telegraph. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b Davies, Lisa (22 September 2010). "'Just don't judge me', says actor Steve Bisley". The Herald Sun. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Australian Film Festival Walk of Fame". Chic Traveller. Retrieved 23 June 2011.