One of Australia’s best-known veteran actors, Ray Barrett, who most recently starred in Baz Luhrman’s Australia, died this morning as a result of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 82.

Barrett preferred to keep working rather than retire: in Australia he played the father of Nicole Kidman’s character.

“He was a wonderful actor, a remarkable actor, and he just loved doing it,” said his agent, Jane Cameron, from Cameron’s Management. He got his first pay cheque from acting when he was 12 years old, which means he has been an actor for 70 years, she added.

Barrett played a big part in the birth of the contemporary Australian film industry in the 1970s, appearing in such films as Don’s Party and The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, for which he won the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for best supporting actor in 1977.

He won the AFI Award for best actor for Goodbye Paradise in 1982 and again in 1995 for Hotel Sorrento, and was nominated for AFIs for the films Brilliant Lies and In The Winter Dark.

He was also the recipient of several major awards including the Kodak Eastman Award for outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry in 1995 and the Raymond Longford Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

“He was a man who knew absolutely everyone – Peter Finch, Spike Milligan, Leo McKern, Honor Blackman, Robert Morley – and exuberantly embraced the pleasures of living,” said Cameron.

Part of his network of friends goes back to his many years working on the London stage and in British television series such as Emergency – Ward 10, The Troubleshooters and Thunderbirds. He relocated to Britainin the 1950s after working extensively in radio in Australia. Peter Corris helped write his autobiography, which was published in 1995.

Barrett is survived by his wife Gaye, his two sons, Reg and Jon, and his daughter Suellen.