Olivia biopic Hopelessly Devoted to You truly captures the icon

Over five decades, she’s been the one that we want.

Olivia Newton-John is certainly a worthy subject for an Australian/Hollywood biopic. The fact that one of the country’s greatest singers has given her blessing to cast yet another great singer (Delta Goodrem) should be proof enough.

The premiere was a tough-as-nails, bust out a charm drama detailing the rise of Newton-John, who stoically steered the Australian music industry from accomplishment to greater accomplishment. Thrown headfirst into the thriving music scene of the swinging-sixties and competing with the best in the world, Olivia struggles to find her voice. Supported by her austere German mother and livewire best friend Pat, and guided by a lovesick, if older, musician fiancé, hard work and talent are finally rewarded when break-out single I Honestly Love You rockets her to Number One in the US. A wave of international success, and the need to make her own choices, prompt the end of her engagement and a move to Los Angeles where she lands the life-changing role of Sandy Olsson in the movie-musical Grease. The film transforms her into a pop culture phenomenon, but the shadow of the public’s obsession with the young star gathers on the horizon.

It’s safe to say both Olivia, best friend Pat Carroll (Kate Jenkinson) and managerial love-interests Bruce Welch (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and Lee Kramer (Todd Lasance) were all reaching in their vision (the creation of ONJ) and equally long-reaching in their vision of taking over 1960’s Hollywood.

Enter John Travolta: at least the younger half. Comedic actor George Xanthis could be labelled an angel dressed in constant black. Of course, every heartthrob is called many things in the old days of entertainment, but they all seem to agree on one thing: “There’s something about Olivia.”

There’s something about the woman playing her, for sure. At 33, Delta Goodrem is the up-and-coming actress to ever portray Olivia Newton-John. “Olivia influenced my earliest years as an evolving artist and became the backbone of influence to living my life and heart as a proud Australian artist. I feel enormous humility to play my idol and friend,” she explains.

With a television resume that includes appearances in regular primetime shows Hey Dad, A Country Practice and Police Rescue, at the age of 18, Delta joined the cast of Neighbours that later earned her a Logie Award for Most Popular New Talent and the lead role in 2005’s movie Hating Alison Ashley. She returned to Australian TV in 2017 with a special guest role in House Husbands before filming the lead role of her mentor, idol and good friend ONJ in Oliva Newton John: Hopelessly Devoted To You

The first part of a two-part biopic took Australia on a rich and colourful ride charting Olivia’s personal life and trailblazing persona through one of the world’s toughest industries. “Our Livvy”, is many things to many people. But first and foremost, she is a survivor—severely highlighted in the second and final part.

Patrick Tadros