Bryan Brown is not a big star. Why not? He certainly has the equipment: the chiseled cheekbones, the ocean-blue eyes, the Aussie grin. In fact, one look at his resume shows that he's inclined to fall into the screen shadow: He's been upstaged by a few million bucks worth of special effects (F/X), 1,000-pound apes (Gorillas In the Mist), the exotic terrain of mainland China (Tai-Pan), a martini-mixing Tom Cruise (Cocktail), and now, a clown-robot named Bluey in Brown's new film FX2. With such a repertoire behind him, Brown should be larger than life. He should be Tom Cruise.
''People say, 'Why isn't he a big sex symbol?''' says Brown, sounding almost embarrassed at the mere thought. ''You can't get into that stuff,'' he says. ''It's baggage in the road. I have a sense of black comedy about this business, which is the Irish in me.'' In another breath he reflects: ''I'm not American, I'm Australian. Maybe that's why I'm not a bigger star. But I want my life to parallel the Michael Caines, the Sean Connerys, the Albert Finneys and not...some other actors,'' he says. There's another plus: He's a diplomat.
FX2 may signal that Brown's taking control of his career (he also serves as executive producer), though he says he would often rather ''Ride, read, or drink homemade beer'' on the cattle ranch outside of Sydney that he shares with his wife, actress Rachel Ward, and their daughters Rosie, 6, and Matilda, 4. ''Sometimes, I'm waddling in mud with the cattle and say, 'What the hell am I doing? I could be making five movies right now,'''says Brown, ''but then I take the girls fishing and say, 'I know exactly what I'm doing.'''