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Jack Thompson. Picture: Getty Images

Australia's underdog status helps, not hinders, the country's filmmakers, says veteran actor Jack Thompson.

Speaking at the red carpet premiere of AFL film Blinder, Thompson said the small size of the local industry encouraged Australian filmmakers to punch above their weight to get to Hollywood.

"It has to do with being this little enclave of other people at the end of the world," he said.

"Here's your fiddle - play your way out of the ghetto, kid."

The legendary actor said local filmmakers had little choice but to go where the work is, but added this mass migration doesn't necessarily disadvantage homemade productions.

"Those people come back here and make films in this country with budgets we could never afford."

Thompson's next big screen appearance will be in Baz Luhrmann's highly anticipated adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

Blinder director Richard Gray said making movies locally was more difficult because the national audience prefers Australian television to film.

"It's incredibly hard," he said.

"There's a hell of a lot of television but to have people watch something Aussie at the cinema is still really special."

After more than 30 years on the bench, Thompson has returned to play an AFL coach on the big screen.

Thompson said his research for 1980s The Club proved useful for getting back into form.

"I drew on my experiences 30 years before of working with the pro-coaches," he said.

"I knew the role of the coach is to be a mentor, an uncle, a man who's been there before."

Blinder tells the story of a young footballer (Oliver Ackland) whose promising AFL career is cut short after he becomes embroiled in a sex scandal.

Thompson played coach to the young cast behind-the-scenes as well, giving them some fighting words for taking on Hollywood: "Give it everything you've got."

But while he may be reprising his coaching duties, Thompson said he has no plans to resurrect Laurie Holden's handlebar moustache.

"Times have changed," he said.

Blinder opens in cinemas on March 7.