ABOT THE TV SERIES
IN THE SHADE of an ancient fig tree, the
stars of Picnic at Hanging Rock look like
they've somehow stepped through time.
in period costume with ankle-length hems,
lace-up boots and bone corsets to keep
their postures just right, they are the
perfect picture of colonial Australian
ladies. But it comes at a cost. When Lily
Sullivan who portrays central
character Miranda Reid in the upcoming
six-part series tries to move, she
quickly signals she's stuck.
think I've given myself a dead leg just
sitting here!" she laughs as her
co-stars Samara Weaving and Madeleine
Madden help her shift to a more
corsets," adds Weaving, who brings
Miranda's classmate Irma Leopold to the
small screen. "We got rid of them
for a reason... They're not good!"
part of the rich tapestry that sets the
scene for a retelling of one of
Australia's best-known mysteries and, as
uncomfortable as the elaborate costumes
are, the women admit there's an upside to
the inconvenience. "You know what?
The corsets really help [us get into
character]," reveals Madden.
feel suppressed, you need other people to
help you get dressed, you need someone to
help you put your shoes on. It has made
us really come together to help each
other get changed, even in the bathroom,
as women would have back then. We've
really banded together because we need
theme, of women coming together to help
each other in a time of need, is central
to this newest version of the classic
story making its debut on showcase
this month. It was first released as a
novel in 1967 by author Joan Lindsay,
then catapulted to international fame in
1975 by Peter Weir's iconic film.
Picnic at Hanging Rock is one of the
country's most enduring thrillers. Set in
a remote finishing school in 1900, the
drama follows a group of young women from
different backgrounds as they struggle
under their strict English headmistress,
Mrs Hester Appleyard (Natalie Dormer).
"The Rebellion", as Sullivan
describes it, the girls enjoy a number of
small victories against the authorities
at the Appleyard College For Young Ladies
with their recalcitrance coming to a head
on Valentine's Day when the school
ventures out for a picnic.
darker, sexier story
orders by teachers to stay close, Miranda
leads her friends and a teacher away from
the group to explore Hanging Rock
where they disappear. Only Edith (Ruby
Rees) is seen again, and what happened to
the others was always left to the
audience's imagination. But now, with
some of Australia's hottest new stars
leading the way, fresh clues will be
added to reveal further intrigue, plus
more detail will be divulged on the main
characters and the premise will be given
what those involved have promised is a
"deeper, darker, sexier" lease
I first saw the script, I knew it was
going to be exciting," shares
Madden, who joins the production in her
first major role as Marion Quade after
breaking through in the Indigenous
teenage show Ready for This and the
critically acclaimed, Logie Award-winning
loved that while still very true to the
original form of the story, how different
it was going to be; deeper and
darker." Under the guidance of
Canadian director Larysa Kondracki,
Madden says this outing has been expanded
to include much more of what was in the
character shows what it was like for a
young Indigenous Australian to be thrust
into a European world and expected to
conform to standards she doesn't
understand. It's a new depth the
well-known film was unable to explore.
"That's why I love working in
TV," Madden explains.
film, you have an hour-and-a-half or two
hours to tell a story; [in Picnic] we
have six hours. You have longer to go to
much more emotional places with your
narrative and your character."
of the supernatural are scattered
throughout this reimagining, told in
flashback from the moment the girls go
missing with what Madden calls
"warped visions and dream
implication is that the history of
Hanging Rock may have finally caught up
with the group. Another story which is
now included is an expanded look at the
risqué romance that develops between one
of the students and her teacher
the similarly-aged Miss Greta McCraw
audience becomes privy to their
relationship in the aftermath,"
McGahan previews. "It's something
that gets explored as the episodes go on.
still scandalous and it's still wrong,
but we've tried to create this element of
empathy with them, to go, Why would
these women find solace in each
also includes a closer look at the
relationship between the girls, the
revelation that two of the men who lead
the search for the missing group might be
gay and even the discovery of an illicit
object at the school.
think it's great to cover all the really
difficult conversations that Australia
needs to have," Weaving says.
is different. It's the same characters,
but it's more focused on different
it's really fun, too! I'm making it sound
like it's depressing, but it's hilarious,
there are so many funny scenes where we
just couldn't keep it together."
having a good run'
role as the pampered Irma
"She likes money and jewels and fast
carriages," quips the actress
might be one of the last Australian roles
she has time for, after stand-out
performances in horror film The
Babysitter and the drama Three Billboards
Outside Ebbing, Missouri saw her elevated
to Hollywood's A-list.
latter was acknowledged on the awards
season circuit earlier this year, winning
four Golden Globes and two Oscars
(Frances McDormand nabbed best actress
while Sam Rockwell won best supporting
actor), as well as the coveted best
acting ensemble at the Screen Actors
Guild (SAG) ceremony. A beaming Weaving
took to the stage with the cast to accept
the statuette. She's quick to play down
the stardom though, saying it all grew
from Aussie roots.
started in [Australian television series]
Out of the Blue when I was 14 years old,
then Home and Away, a bunch of Aussie
independent films, movies in the US and
now this," she says. "I've had
a good run."
to use the series as a springboard is
Sullivan. Taking on the legendary role of
Miranda, the AACTA Award-nominee says her
character is more than just a little girl
lost in this incarnation, which was a
great opportunity for her to explore as
idea that you're playing an Australian
icon everyone remembers the name
was a bit daunting," Sullivan
shares. "But then once you're on the
job and you're in this creative bubble
with the different people bringing this
production to life both in front
of and behind the camera you kind
of forget all of that."
continues: "Miranda's a dreamer, she
is this earthy, wild, free-spirited girl.
She grew up on a farm with four brothers
where she was treated as an equal, having
that taste of freedom not wearing
a corset. Then she gets plucked out, put
in this school and is being groomed for
auction like the horses that she trained,
all because of her gender?
the one with true choice because she has
tasted both sides and that's where her
heroism comes from."
on Mrs Hester Appleyard
course, central to Miranda and the girls'
experiences is their principal nemesis,
Mrs Hester Appleyard, portrayed by former
Game of Thrones star Dormer. Her persona
has also been expanded for this offering,
with more clues as to who this mysterious
woman might be and how an English teacher
wound up in the Australian bush in the
first place. Her stern manner and what
drives her to treat the students the way
she does is unravelled.
her novel, Joan Lindsay gives hints that
there is a past life and that Hester
isn't being completely honest about her
background," Dormer says.
delicious thing that has been done here
with our Picnic at Hanging Rock is that
we have really fleshed out her morally
ambiguous background in London.
audience slowly learns more and more;
that she is not as she portrays herself
to be this is a lot of fun as an
actor." Those questions who
these ladies are and what drives them
is part of what attracted the
acclaimed actress to the project in the
first place, Dormer says.
a great ensemble piece; so many
characters with a lot between them: Where
did they come from? What journey are they
on? Who are they? What makes them tick?
It was wonderful the way this community
and school had been fleshed out. And, of
course, over-arching this entire thing is
this delicious mystery. What happened to
those girls? What happened on the Hanging
Rock? [It's a] great drama but with
mystery holding it all together."
which has combined to make the airing of
Picnic at Hanging Rock the most
anticipated television event of 2018,
with local and international audiences
eagerly counting down to the premiere.
offering was selected for this year's
Berlin International Film Festival, where
it received a standing ovation (only the
second Aussie series to be invited; the
first being Cleverman in 2016), and is
scheduled for broadcast on Amazon in
America, Britain's BBC, Sky in New
Zealand, Canal+ in France and Deutsche
Telekom in Germany, with more
international deals to be inked. While
everything about this interpretation will
be fresh, one thing will remain above
all: this is still a riveting tale.
don't know what happens to the girls, but
we really do set up a lot of
possibilities so people can think, 'Did
that happen or did this happen?' That's
what makes it so fun."
Weaving states: "It's scary but it's
ethereal and feminine. Audiences might be
surprised by how modern it is. It's
really rock'n'roll and punk, and
bad-arse. These girls are rebels."
"Picnic at Hanging
Rock" Site. Created by Sandra
Gambino. 2005 - 2019
All the pictures on this
site are copyright by respective
production Studio and/or Distributor.
in the Backround "Miranda
Morning" composed by Cezary