The four-hour TV miniseries co-produced by Worthington, tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign through the eyes of Australian war correspondents Charles Bean (Joel Jackson) and Keith Murdoch (Ewen Leslie), photographer Philip Schuler (Sam Worthington) and Britain’s Ellis Ashmead Bartlett (Hugh Dancy). Charles Dance arrives next week to play the British General Sir Ian Hamilton who heads the British command at Gallipoli. Worthington is not expected in Adelaide until the following week.
In rehearsal late last week Hugh Dancy, who is married to US actor Claire Danes, said he came into the role knowing relatively little about the Anzacs. In his coverage of the Gallipoli campaign, British journalist Bartlett wrote of the bravery of the Australian soldiers and is credited with starting the Anzac legend.
“I am interested because the focus of this in particular is the myth makers,” he said. “For better or for worse we mythologise things because they’re remarkable and they deserve to be remembered, and also because they’re such horrific events we can’t think of another way to respond to them.”
Dancy will be in South Australia until August but will fly home for a two-week break in July to see Danes, who is currently shooting a fourth season of the US terrorist thriller Homeland.
Winning the role of Charles Bean is a big break for NIDA graduate Joel Jackson, 22, a former musician from Western Australia who made a selfie screen test in remote Karratha using a camera on top of a crayfish crate after a day working in the mines.
Jackson has since read everything he can find about the Oxford-educated war historian C.E.W. Bean, including his diary, and has visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra where Bean’s papers are held. He says the Anzac legend has helped Australians forge a sense of national identity by providing a common point of history and a story people can connect with.
“Anzac Day for me is the most special day of the year, always has been,” he says. “I grew up in Albany which is where they departed for Cairo and every year my grandfather would tell you the traditions of the Anzacs.”
Sydney-based actor Ewen Leslie has the job of playing Keith Murdoch, the war correspondent, publisher and father of Rupert Murdoch who smuggled out a letter critical of the British command. Leslie, a theatre actor and familiar face from TV shows like Love My Way and Redfern Now, said he had read what he could find about Sir Keith.
“I suppose you take as much stuff as you can and try to put together a picture of someone,” he said. “You bring parts of yourself to him and hopefully meet in the middle.”
Deadline Gallipoli, commissioned by Foxtel, is the third Gallipoli project to come to South Australia in less than a year following the ABC miniseries Anzac Girlsand Russell Crowe’s blockbuster film The Water Diviner. The SA Government has invested $618,000 in Worthington’s project which will use the Adelaide Studios and locations including Maslins Beach which will double as Anzac Cove. It is expected to give a $6 million boost to the economy.
Other actors to join the nine-week shoot are Rachel Griffiths, who plays Sir Ian’s society wife, Bryan Brown as General William Bridges and two Australian actors based in LA, Anna Torv who stars in the US series Fringe, and Jessica De Gouw from the television series Dracula and Arrow. The director is Australian Michael Rymer who, with Dancy, has just finished shooting a season of the television series Hannibalin Canada.