Nicole Kidman mourns the loss of Indigenous actor David Gulpilil

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Nicole Kidman is the latest star to honour legendary Indigenous actor David Dalaithngu after he died at the age of 68 following a battle with lung cancer.

The 54-year-old actress took to Instagram on Tuesday to pay tribute to the actor, telling her followers that it was an ‘honour to know and work with him’.

‘The passing of David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu is deeply, deeply sad,’ she wrote.

RIP: Actress Nicole Kidman, 54, (left) has honoured legendary Indigenous actor David Dalaithngu (right) with a post shared to her Instagram stories on Tuesday after he died at the age of 68 following a battle with lung cancer. Pictured together in November 2008.

‘It was an honour to know him and to work with him. David, we honour you.’

Dalaithngu, who won global fame for his performance in Crocodile Dundee, died at his home in Murray Bridge, South Australia, on Monday.

Kidman starred alongside Dalaithngu in the 2008 Baz Luhrmann-directed adventure film, Australia.

Tribute: The actress took to her Instagram stories on Tuesday to pay tribute to the actor, telling her followers that it was an 'honour to know and work with him

Tribute: The actress took to her Instagram stories on Tuesday to pay tribute to the actor, telling her followers that it was an ‘honour to know and work with him

Leading the tributes was Hugh Jackman, 53, who shared a photo to Instagram of alongside Dalaithngu at the November 2008 premiere of the film, which he also starred in. 

‘I join all Australians, and the world over, in mourning the loss of David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu,’ the X-Men star wrote.

‘One of the great privileges of my life was to work with David on the movie Australia.

Tributes: Actors Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts were also among the list of celebrities to honour the legendary Indigenous actor. Pictured: Jackman and Dalaithngu at the Sydney premiere of Australia, the Baz Luhrmann-directed adventure film in which they both starred

Tributes: Actors Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts were also among the list of celebrities to honour the legendary Indigenous actor. Pictured: Jackman and Dalaithngu at the Sydney premiere of Australia, the Baz Luhrmann-directed adventure film in which they both starred

‘His contribution to film is immeasurable. From his cheeky laugh, to that mischievous glint in his eye and effortless ease in front of the camera… His humanity is irreplaceable.’

Fellow Aussie actor Naomi Watts, 53, commented below the post: ‘Oh NOOOO dear David. I will never forget him and his beautiful work. RIP.’

Olympian Cathy Freeman, who was the first Australian Indigenous person to become a Commonwealth Games gold medallist at age 16 in 1990, added: ‘Thank you for the inspiration, David Gulpilil. Rest In Peace.’

Honour: Celebrities and fans took to social media to share tributes to Dalaithngu after his death

Honour: Celebrities and fans took to social media to share tributes to Dalaithngu after his death

Devastated: Naomi Watts, 53, said, 'I will never forget him and his beautiful work. RIP'

Devastated: Naomi Watts, 53, said, ‘I will never forget him and his beautiful work. RIP’

Studio 10 entertainment reporter Angela Bishop wrote: ‘An immeasurable loss. David Gulpilil has died at the age of 68, leaving behind an extraordinary body of work.

‘Walkabout, Storm Boy, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Crocodile Dundee, The Tracker, Charlie’s Country and so much more before, finally, My Name is Gulpilil.’

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young wrote: ‘Very sad to hear David Gulpilil has died. An Australian icon and one of our greatest artists.

‘I will never forget watching Storm Boy as young girl and being in awe of Fingerbone Bill. It’s storytelling like this that changes the world, for the better.’ 

A fan of Dalaithngu added: ‘The first Indigenous Australian that sparked my curiosity and respect for the world’s oldest continuous culture has died.

‘David Gulpilil was from the Mandhalpingu clan of the Yolŋu people and raised in Arnhem land. Thank you for all the storytelling. Vale.’

Icon: Dalaithngu was a renowned actor and artist who appeared in numerous films. His family allowed his image to be used after his death according to his wishes

Icon: Dalaithngu was a renowned actor and artist who appeared in numerous films. His family allowed his image to be used after his death according to his wishes

‘Such very sad news about David Gulpilil. Such grace and dignity on screen. A multi-talented artist. Rest In Peace,’ another wrote, while a third added: ‘Vale David Gulpilil and thank you, Sir for bringing truth & Australian stories to the world screens.’

The multi-talented performer was immortalised in an Archibald Prize-winning portrait in 2004 and once danced for The Queen.

His daughter Phoebe Marson announced two years ago that her father had been diagnosed with the aggressive cancer and he would soon ‘go to the Dreamtime’. 

As an actor he appeared in iconic Australian films like Storm Boy, Charlie’s Country, Ten Canoes, Rabbit-Proof Fence and The Tracker.

But it was a small role as Neville Bell in Crocodile Dundee that earned him fans around the world for his memorable scene opposite Paul Hogan in the 1986 classic.

The film remains Australia’s most successful film ever at the box office, earning in excess of $47million. 

His character meets Hogan’s character, Mick Dundee, and journalist Sue Charlton, played by Hogan’s later wife Linda Kozlowski, while on the way to a corroboree, a traditional Aboriginal word for meeting. 

Fame: He starred in the 2013 highly acclaimed film Charlie's Country (pictured)

Fame: He starred in the 2013 highly acclaimed film Charlie’s Country (pictured) 

In a scene-stealing moment, he tells Charlton she can’t take his photograph and she asks him whether this is due to some deeply held spiritual belief.

‘No, you’ve got the lens cap on,’ he replies.

A Yolngu man born in Arnham Land in the Northern Territory on July 1, 1953, Dalaithngu was raised in the bush and never had formal schooling.

Fluent in several Aboriginal languages, he learned English by listening and he trained as a traditional dancer.

His talent as a dancer caught the eye of British director Nicolas Roeg who watched him perform while scouting locations and cast him in a main role in his 1971 film Walkabout. 

The story revolves around two white schoolchildren who become lost in the Australian Outback and are saved by Dalaithngu’s character.

Five years later he appeared in the Australian classic Storm Boy which raised him to star status and helped create a longstanding partnership with the South Australian film industry.

He would later appear in the 2019 remake as the father of the character he originally played.

Family: Jamie Gulpilil (left) starred with his father David (right) in the acclaimed film Ten Canoes (pictured at the premiere at Her Majesty's Theatre in Adelaide as part of the Adelaide Film Festival on March 19, 2006)

Family: Jamie Gulpilil (left) starred with his father David (right) in the acclaimed film Ten Canoes (pictured at the premiere at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Adelaide as part of the Adelaide Film Festival on March 19, 2006)

He received an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards nomination for best supporting actor for his 2002 turn in ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’ directed by Phillip Noyce. 

The film follows the story of three Aboriginal girls who in 1931 were taken from their communities and resettled at the Moore River Native Settlement north of Perth, as they escape and make their way back to their families. 

Dalaithngu played an Aboriginal tracker enlisted by white law enforcement to help find the girls. 

And that same year he also won the AACTA Award for best lead actor for his title role in The Tracker directed by Rolf de Heer which he would later call his best work.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall paid tribute to Dalaithngu on Monday night, saying his work helped shape the cultural landscape of South Australia. 

‘It is with deep sadness that I share with the people of South Australia the passing of an iconic, once-in-a-generation artist who shaped the history of Australian film and Aboriginal representation on screen,’ he said.

Mr Marshall said Dalaithngu was a man who ‘loved his land and his culture and took it to the world’. 

Career: The actor has had an extremely long and successful career (pictured on the set of the film 'Walkabout' in 1971)

Career: The actor has had an extremely long and successful career (pictured on the set of the film ‘Walkabout’ in 1971) 

‘In his later years he was a resident of Murray Bridge. He was a brother, son, friend, father, grandfather and husband,’ he said.

‘An actor, dancer, singer and painter, he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen.

‘But David Gulpilil’s life was not without its struggles – he encountered racism and discrimination, and lived with the pressures of the divide between his traditional lifestyle and his public profile.’

That divide was captured in a painting which won the 2004 Archibald Prize – the nation’s premier portrait competition. 

The Craig Ruddy painting titled ‘Two Worlds’ also won the people’s choice award for that year – only the second time this has happened in the competition’s history. 

Dalaithngu was recognised in the 1987 Queen’s Birthday Honours List and awarded the Member of the Order of Australia.

He had previously danced for Queen Elizabeth at the opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973. 

Talent: Film critic Jason Di Rosso said Dalaithngu had an 'immense magnetism' (pictured with fellow Australian actor Cate Blanchett in 2009)

Talent: Film critic Jason Di Rosso said Dalaithngu had an ‘immense magnetism’ (pictured with fellow Australian actor Cate Blanchett in 2009)

A documentary about his life titled ‘My name is Gulpilil’ premiered in March this year, with the actor making his final public appearance at the screening.

Mr Marshall said his thoughts were with Dalaithngu’s family and friends and carer Mary Hood. 

Australian film critic Jason Di Rosso said his work had helped to ‘change the narrative’ of Australia.

‘Sad news that one of Australia’s greatest actors David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu has died,’ he wrote to Twitter.

‘He possessed immense magnetism, skill & intelligence. In long shot or in close up he commanded the frame. As a storyteller, he also helped change the narrative of this country.’ 

Dalaithngu’s family have given permission to use his name and image after his death in accordance with his wishes. 

Recognition: Mr Dalaithngu has won widespread recognition for his acting work (pictured with his second wife Miriam Ashley in 2006)

Recognition: Mr Dalaithngu has won widespread recognition for his acting work (pictured with his second wife Miriam Ashley in 2006) 

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