Streaming now on Paramount Plus is Last King of the Cross, a 10-part true-crime series set in the streets of Sydney’s notorious Kings Cross during its seedy ‘90s heyday, in which aspirational nightclub owner John Ibrahim rose to the top of what was dubbed the “mecca of sin.”
Based on Ibrahim’s autobiography of the same name, Last King of the Cross takes the classic rags-to-riches crime arc and blends it with a ripped-from-the-tabloids story of crime, sex, and corruption in the ‘Cross. There is also, of course, much in the way of sensationalism in this screen adaptation as most true crime gangster stories tend to do. Unlike the similar themed Underbelly: The Golden Mile that was released in 2004, however, Last King of the Cross boasts John Ibrahim and his family as direct consultants.
Who are John and Sam Ibrahim from Last King of the Cross?
Last King of the Cross tells the story of brothers John and Sam Ibrahim, who along with their family, migrated from war-torn Tripoli, Lebanon, to Sydney, Australia’s biggest city – where they grew up in a housing commission flat in the city’s wild west.
As the old guard of the King Cross criminal underworld found themselves under the sights of the Wood Royal Commission into police corruption, an 18-year-old John opened his first nightclub. Using his street smarts and his head for business, John would go on to become the czar of the nightclub business in the ‘Cross, with allegedly 17 to his name as well as numerous multimillion-dollar homes in Sydney’s east.
WATCH the trailer for Last King of the Cross below.
During his rise to the top, however, John would rub shoulders with many of the prominent crime figures who used King Cross as the epicentre of their criminal dealings. NSW Police often had John under investigation and even labelled him as the “lifeblood of the drugs industry of Kings Cross”, a charge that John has strongly denied.
To this day, John has not been convicted of any charges put against him, and on some occasions was awarded costs after charges were dismissed. This led to the media dubbing him “Teflon John.”
Sam Ibrahim, however, is a different story. A career criminal, Sam was one of the first Lebanese-Australian men to join an Australian outlaw motorcycle gang and would eventually become the president of the Granville chapter of the Nomads Motorcycle Club.
A feared underground crime figure, Sam would face charges for drug distribution, numerous violent incidents, and gun running, the latter of which saw Sam sentenced to several years in prison. In 2015, Sam would be deported from Australia to Lebanon for his lengthy criminal history.
Who is in Last King of the Cross?
Lincoln Younes stars as John Ibrahim. Younes first appeared in the Foxtel series Tangle opposite Ben Mendelsohn, before making his mark in the US with lead roles in the crime drama Grand Hotel and the CW reboot of 1980s cult horror classic The Lost Boys. Younes will next be seen in the Stan original war comedy Caught alongside Oscar winner Sean Penn.
Claude Jabbour stars as Sam Ibrahim. Jabbour is known for his performance in the ABC miniseries Stateless, which also starred Cate Blanchett and Dominic West. He also starred in the Stan original series Eden, as well as the Australian drama Measure for Measure alongside Hugo Weaving.
Tim Roth stars as Ezra Shipman, a fictional crime boss who was originally to be portrayed by Ian McShane. Roth is an Oscar-nominated British actor known for his roles in Rob Roy, Pulp Fiction, and The Incredible Hulk.
Callan Mulvey stars as Detective Sergeant Brian Crellan, a corrupt police officer who patrols Kings Cross. Mulvey is one of Australia’s best-known actors with memorable roles in local made TV programs Mystery Road and Underbelly. He has also starred in blockbuster films such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and The Gray Man opposite Ryan Gosling.
Tess Haubrich stars as Detective Elizabeth Doyle, a police officer who vows to rid Kings Cross of corruption, even if it means arresting her fellow officer. Haubrich recently appeared in the sci-fi thriller Spiderhead alongside Chris Hemsworth. She also starred in the drama series Bad Mothers, as well as the crime thriller After the Verdict alongside her Last King of the Cross co-star Lincoln Younes.
Just how true is Last King of the Cross?
The makers and cast of Last King of the Cross have gone to great lengths to remind that the crime series is not a true representation of real-life events. The beginning of every episode displays the statement that Last King of the Cross is a “dramatisation inspired by the best-selling autobiography of John Ibrahim” and that “several of the characters and events represented throughout the series are entirely fictitious.”
These sentiments are shared by Younes, who said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald: “[Last King of the Cross] is not a biopic, I’m not playing [John Ibrahim]. There was an essence from his memoir that was the inspiration for the show. And there’s obviously a lot of historical markers that are touched on in the show but, for me, the exciting part was the enigma of this character, the mystique and that for such a vibrant, dangerous world, he endured in it and thrived. And from nothing, he created this kingdom.”
Where is Last King of the Cross streaming?
Last King of the Cross is currently streaming on Paramount Plus. The crime series had an estimated budget of $40 million and was filmed across Sydney back in 2022.