'Squizzy' is a charmer
THE Underbelly franchise returns to the Prohibition-era in the latest Squizzy instalment.
Spanning the years 1915 to 1927, Underbelly: Squizzy chronicles the exploits of Joseph Theodore Leslie Taylor, better known as "Squizzy" Taylor.
The pint-sized Melbourne crim had an ego and ambitions that made up for his height, and would eventually be his downfall.
Boss of the Bourke Street "rats", a gang of pickpockets, Squizzy aspired to become the underworld king of Melbourne and he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty.
"The thing with Squizzy that I found interesting was he was the sort of guy who develops a gang but he doesn't rely on them," said Jared Daperis, who plays Taylor.
"A lot of guys have the heavies do the work. He genuinely was not afraid to get in and do it himself.
"He believed he could take on anyone even in fisticuffs. I think that says a lot about the person he was."
A mix of Napoleon, Al Capone and the Kardashians, Squizzy didn't just want to get rich. He wanted to be famous too, and succeeded in becoming Australia's first celebrity crook.
"Even though he was charming and charismatic and everyone was wooed by him, he was nasty and vicious," Daperis told The Guide.
"Being as intoxicated by his own ego as he was, he was bound to lose."
Squizzy had three women in his life: his first lover and early partner in crime Dolly Grey, and his two wives, Lorna Kelly and Ida Pender.
"What he seemed to do was find the woman appropriate for how he wanted to be represented," he said.
"He married Lorna, a temperance girl and pure Christian wife, because he wanted the Australian dream. He wanted to be respectable.
"Once he was getting older he married a young sexy woman, Ida, who made him feel young again and I guess represent a sort of youth and fun."
But the woman who was the constant in Squizzy's life was his mum Rose, played by Susie Porter.
"Susie and I spoke about whether or not Rose is really oblivious and thinks Squizzy is working at the race track," he said.
"She's not necessarily convincing herself that he's not doing anything, but more convincing herself that what he's doing is okay. What we played on is that she's justifying what he needs to do."
The law eventually caught up with Squizzy, but not before he left a trail of bodies in his wake.
"Once you're obsessed I guess you lose perspective," Daperis said.
"The fact that he would admit that he had done a crime that he actually hadn't just for the sake of sounding tough, if you're that obsessed then you're bound to get caught in the end."