Born 31 August 1940, John Hadley Pain in Manly, a suburb of Sydney, Thompson was five years old when his mother died, leaving his father, a merchant seaman, unable to care for him and his brother, David. He was sent to an orphanage by his aunt and subsequently adopted by the poet and ABC broadcaster John Thompson and his wife Pat, after which he changed his surname. ack attended Sydney Boys High for his secondary education but left at the age of 14. He became a jackaroo on a cattle station in the Northern Territory for a number of years, later taking up other working-class jobs such as working on the railways. It was while he was attending Queensland University from 1966 that Jack became involved in drama, and started auditioning for television shows. Jack Thompson has been a significant figure in the Australian film industry for more than 60 years. He has had leading roles in iconic Australian films and various awards.