How Top End Wedding’s Miranda Tapsell juggled her reel and real life romances

Miranda Tapsell and Gwilym Lee tie the knot Tiwi Islands style in <i>Top End Wedding.</i>

Miranda Tapsell and Gwilym Lee tie the knot Tiwi Islands style in Top End Wedding. Photo: Universal Pictures

When she co-wrote the screenplay for sweet Australian rom-com Top End Wedding, Logie winner Miranda Tapsell was firmly single.

But in a movie-like twist, by the time she flew up to the Northern Territory to star in her movie – helmed by Wayne Blair, who directed her in The Sapphires – Tapsell was engaged to fellow comedy writer James Colley.

“It just so happened that I met a really gorgeous nerd,” she says, giggling at the memory in a plush suite at Melbourne’s Crown Towers in April.

British co-star Gwilym Lee, 35, (Bohemian Rhapsody’s Brian May) is parked on the couch with Tapsell, 31, for the chat.

He plays lovably dorky Ned to her corporate lawyer Lauren, with the pair setting off on a whirlwind road trip around the territory on the hunt for her estranged mum (The Code’s Ursula Yovich).

The screen couple want her there for the wedding. Adventure and misadventure ensue.

In a stunning Top End showcase that celebrates Indigenous culture, making the movie saw Tapsell – who originally hails from Darwin – travel the length and breadth of the land with Lee.

Also a producer on Top End Wedding, Tapselll was juggling her real life romance as well as her screen one, and found herself planning two weddings simultaneously.

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” she said of the logistical headache.

“But at the same time I don’t regret the year I just had. It was an incredible, life-affirming year.”


She married Colley at Panorama House, south of Sydney, in December last year, wearing a pale oyster silk and lace gown that took Australian design house Weave a year to make.

Technically, Lee bet Colley to it though, with his fictional wedding to Tapsell taking place in the Tiwi Islands, where she wore a traditional bold print Tiwi dress for the ceremony. Lee was stuck “not in a linen suit” but with a tuxedo.

“I was devastated when I saw the full dickie bow and dinner jacket, knowing it was going to be mid-30s temperature and 80 degree humidity,” he says.

The movie wedding confused the local community, Tapsell says.

“A lot of people thought that it was my actual wedding, so a lot of the women in the [Tiwi] choir were going, ‘Gee, this ceremony’s taking a long time. Wait, why are they going and doing it again?'”


When it comes to screen love, rom-com devotee Tapsell knows her stuff.

She names Andrew Lincoln’s character declaring his love for his best mate’s girl Keira Knightley in Love Actually as one of Hollywood’s more “problematic” examples.

The Orthodox baptism scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding cracks her up every time, and there’s one wedding crasher in particular that gets Tapsell hot under the collar.

“Umm, Cary Elwes [in The Princess Bride], oh my God,” she says.

“I love The Princess Bride so much. He is so beautiful as Westley in that film … it’s his eye contact when he says, ‘As you wish.’ Like, if that’s not the hottest thing you’ve ever seen in your life, I don’t know what is.”

Lee is bemused by his co-star’s enthusiasm for the 1987 fantasy romance’s leading man: “Very passionate. I’ve never seen you like this.”

As for the actor’s own favourite romantic movie, he plumps for Four Weddings and Funeral, “because you get four for the price of one.”


Top End Wedding is now screening nationally.

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