Some mysteries are so great that they’ve become the stuff of legend. Who built the pyramids? What happened to D.B. Cooper after he jumped from the plane and escaped with the loot? Will we ever discover the true identity of the Zodiac Killer? The list goes on, and there’s no telling if any of these wonders will ever be solved.
In the world of movies, one of the greatest mysteries pertains to Yahoo Serious, the Australian director, writer, and actor behind the cult curiosities Young Einstein (1988), Reckless Kelly (1993), and Mr. Accident (2000). It’s highly possible that you haven’t heard of him, but his journey from college dropout to briefly successful filmmaker to AWOL recluse is thoroughly fascinating nonetheless.
Yahoo Serious’ best-known contribution to the world of pop culture is Young Einstein. The movie chronicles the exploits of the titular scientist who came up with the Theory of Relativity. In this movie, though, he’s depicted as a wacky Tasmanian (played by Serious) who infuses bubbles into beer, brings rock ‘n’ roll music to the world, saves the lives of Thomas Edison and Sigmund Freud, and enters a romance with Nobel Prize-winner Marie Curie. It’s weird.
There’s an argument to be made that Serious’ interpretation of the legendary Austrian scientist’s life is historically inaccurate. However, the movie was a huge success in Australia and even went on to become, at the time, the sixth-highest-grossing movie ever in the Land Down Under.
More than anything, though, Young Einstein introduced us to an eccentric talent whose unusual name, orange Bride of Frankenstein-style haircut, and extravagant, colorful attire caught the media’s eye. He subsequently appeared on the front cover of Time magazine and received his own prime time show on MTV. For a short while, Yahoo Serious was a man of the moment.
Despite his initial success, the director didn’t unleash his sophomore feature for another five years. Like Young Einstein, Reckless Kelly continued his fascination with portraying famous historical figures in a whole new light and sending them on wacky adventures.
In this one, Serious stars as the famous bank robber Ned Kelly, albeit in a contemporary setting. And instead of Kelly being depicted as a ruthless murderer, he’s a Robin Hood figure who steals money and gives it to the poor. He also takes on a corrupt tycoon (played by Hugo Weaving) so he can make enough money to save his family’s island.
Reckless Kelly was another surprise hit in Australia, but internationally, audiences had already forgotten about the man who called himself Yahoo Serious. For the few who maybe hadn’t, they certainly did by the time Mr. Accident was released seven years later. To this day, it remains his last movie, but it’s arguably his most polished and accessible work.
As the film’s title suggests, Serious — inspired by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton — plays a clumsy egg factory worker who gets into lots of accidents. To bring the movie to life, Serious put himself at great physical risk by performing his own stunts. No one can question his dedication to his art, even though many have questioned the quality of it.
Outside of movies, Serious was always a strange and fascinating fellow. Prior to changing his name to Yahoo Serious, he was known as plain old Greg Gomez Pead. Growing up, he worked as a tire fitter so he could save money for his tuition at the National Art School in Sydney. Upon arriving at the college, however, he realized that his artistic sensibilities and mischievous tendencies didn’t correspond with the institution’s taste, which led to him being expelled.
”I embraced that Marcel Duchamp-Andy Warhol ethic that art is what one decides it shall be, and I set about actually destroying art as the object,” Serious told The New York Times. ”And then I ended up going the full circle and making a hot-dog machine, putting four people inside and calling it an artwork — it was a disaster. Then I was kicked out of art college for painting all these jokes on the front of the school.”
After being kicked out of art school, he changed his name and proceeded to study film. The rest is history — at least as far as making movies goes. Perhaps the best story of his career was when he tried to sue the internet company Yahoo! for copyright infringement. He was unsuccessful, but that doesn’t make the entire scenario less funny.
After his last movie, Serious seemingly grew tired of fame and disappeared off the face of the earth for years. No one — not even some of his closest friends — had heard a peep from him, leading many to believe that perhaps the man and his movies were just a crazy dream. For someone who got famous by being extravagant and making movies that are ridiculously unforgettable, he quietly disappeared into the shadows, never to be seen again… until recently.
The good news is that he still does exist, and he’s putting his energy to a good cause as a director of the Kokoda Track Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping Australia’s indigenous people. Outside of his humanitarian efforts, meanwhile, he appears to be living a normal life. As noted by The Daily Mail, he’s often spotted in the suburbs of Sydney, walking his dog and keeping to himself. His neighbors say he earns his income through several business interests, though it’s unknown what they are.
Earlier this year, he resurfaced to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Young Einstein and reassure the world he’s alive and well. Maybe that doesn’t make Serious an unsolved mystery after all, but he’s still a strange phenomenon that can’t be explained. His filmmaking days appear to be a thing of the past, though, which is unfortunate because his ideas and sense of humor are certainly original.