Rachel Griffiths to play Julia Gillard in new bio-drama

Exclusive: Rachel Griffiths will play Julia Gillard in a new drama project from the producers of Hawke & Curtin.

2013-11-07_2218EXCLUSIVE: Rachel Griffiths will play Julia Gillard in a new drama project from the producers of hit bio-dramas Hawke and Curtin.

Richard Keddie will produce a feature-length drama for WTFN, which has acquired the film and television rights to “The Stalking of Julia Gillard” by Kerry-Anne Walsh.

The book tells the story of the media’s obsession with the fall and resurrection of Kevin Rudd at Julia Gillard’s expense.

The project represents WTFN’s first major foray into drama after acquiring Keddie’s production company earlier this year. As yet there is no broadcaster on board, but Rachel Griffiths is attached to play Julia Gillard.

“I am thrilled to portray Australia’s first female prime minister and explore the private aspects of her remarkable term,” Griffiths said. “I believe that the creative and intellectual capacity of the team involved will produce a stunning drama that will reframe this historic period in our cultural and political life.”

Keddie’s productions of Hawke for TEN in 2010, and the Logie-winning Curtin for the ABC were both critical and popular hits. He has also directed both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd in political advertisements.

“This is an incredible contemporary Australian story,” said Keddie, “and when the truth is revealed I think Australians will be astounded.”

“We’re the right people to make this because we know the political scene really well. We know how to make these kind of stories.

“I’ve taken Rachel in to meet with some pretty interesting people already.’

“We’re getting really good access to a lot of people.”

The story will also take aim at the role of the media in the political landscape.

“It’s a fascinating study of the 24/7 news cycle and what you will find is Kevin Rudd was a genius of the 24/7 news cycle. He kept the media fed and kept the media running and spinning for years. The media fed off that and they fed off the conflict. There are parallels with the Hawke / Keating conflict but that wasn’t front page news every day,” Keddie told TV Tonight.

“You have two incredible personalities in Rudd and Gillard.

“She was extraordinarily successful in her performance as a Prime Minister but not in the media. The media didn’t like her. They went after her and killed her.

“One of the reasons I want to make the story is because I believe the media are writing the rules of our democracy and frightening away character and personality. What we are getting is two-dimensional cutout characters who are nothing like the true people.

“That’s why I have been interested in making political drama because they are fascinating people.”

Keddie maintains the media has now become ‘kingmaker’ in Australian politics.

“Rather than report news they want drama. There’s no news in the National Insurance Disability Scheme, no news in the most radical reform since Medicare, but there’s tons of news in ‘Kevin Rudd has 44 votes now!’” he said.

The project is unlikely to be seen until 2015 with Keddie due to shoot the feature film Oddball in early 2014.

“I know a lot about the true story of Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. For me it makes Hawke look like a ‘normal story.’ It’s absolutely amazing.”

20 Responses

  1. @CCBloom – “Too soon. Too soon”. Yes by about 50 years! Do we really need to be reminded so soon of the damage this hugely unpopular, uncharismatic, incompetent, divisive liar did to Australia and the debt she has left our kids saddled with?

  2. I think Rachel Griffiths is terrific but there is no way in hell I’d watch this.

    It’s based on a book that is heavily biased against former PM Rudd.

    It portrays him as a nasty evil slimy bastard and Gillard as Jesus Christ who walks on water.

    As for all the great stuff she did while PM – well the current government is dismantling every bit of it so her legacy will be basically ‘knifing a popular sitting PM’ and ‘helping Abbort become PM’.

  3. Cannot wailt for this. She has left a legacy which is massive. More than any Prime Minister in our history. Something that more enlightened generations in the future will recognise. And she left office with her head held high, a very dignified lady.

  4. With all due respect to Richard Keddie I cannot see a commercial network commissioning this telemovie – even if it was totally brilliant it will polarise the audience – and think about the members of the boards of those broadcasters (ultra-right business) – so it’s natural home is the ABC. The ABC is now operating in an incredibly tough political climate so not sure the timing is right. If the media splash is supposed to drum up momentum – I hope it helped!

  5. I think Rachel Griffiths will be great! But I wish they wouldn’t do the story as “Julia Gillard is a victim of the media”. Should be “Julia Gillard unwisely knifed a popular PM, then ran a fairly useless govt and led the Labor party to a catastrophic defeat.”

  6. Looking forward to seeing this.I think Rachel Griffiths will be amazing in this role.Like her or loathe her,Julia Gillard is a very important figure in Australian history,and her story deserves to be told.

  7. i’m a bit on the fence when it comes to my like of Julia both as a person & politician, but love Rachel & would probably watch it anyway if she is in it, if anyone can pull it off its her.

  8. Much as I like Rachel Griffiths, there’s nothing on this earth could make me watch a “bio-drama” about our thankfully departed Julia Gillard.
    I’d rather poke my eyes out with a stick.
    And block my ears with cement.

  9. There’s a fascinating movie that could be made about Gillard, her rise to power and her slow, painful demise… but this will undoubtedly be Julia, The Martyr, torn down by a sexism and misogyny. It’ll be all about how Australia wasn’t ready for, or couldn’t cope with a female Prime Minister. And never mind that we have a female Governor-General, or that there have been numerous female State Premiers and State Governors, or that a good many of Australia’s leading corporations (such as Westpac) have had female CEOs for many years.

  10. Rachel is a name, so i guess her casting is crucial, but i still really like Amanda Bishop and Paul McCarthy. They may be comedic actors, but both have plenty of other credits that would serve them to reprise these roles as Julia and Kevin. A good director like Richard would get the right pitch from them. Rachel is a fine actor, but can she achieve the look or sound?

  11. But no channel has commissioned it yet (nor do they have any public funding), so I guess it isn’t officially happening at all?

    If everyone announced their development slates there would be a lot more shows coming in 2015…

    Sure this might indeed get commissioned, but in 90% of cases you don’t hear of a project (or attached cast) until they’ve received funding and a broadcaster has agreed to pay for it.

    Appreciate WTFN are keen to get a project out of a recent acquisition.

  12. Sounds like a desperate producer’s pitch to me. Hawke did quite well ratings wise but it was pretty crap and a real insult to Hazel Hawke. If I was a network I’d revisit this idea in a few years time when there is some clarity and after the current politics plays out and only with a real cracker of a script. Rachel Griffiths playing Julia…not so sure if she is an actress you could warm to.

  13. This is nonesense. She may have been the first female PM, but she just wasn’t very good. She came to power in a dodgy way and suffered the same fate. As an orator I have rarely heard a leader sound so monotone, dull and lacking charisma. For the record I formed my view of her time as pm, not through the rabid attack dogs of the right, but through the more centrist and balanced abc. The next female pm will be way better regardless of which side of politics they come from. As for this show…..too soon and a bit pointless. I wonder how they will portary Bill Shorten (backstabber?)

  14. I hate making tv/fim stories about famous people who aren’t dead/retired. Who knows whats going to happen with them in say 5 years time?

    Just look at John Howard, who was defeated in the 80s only to come back and rule for 12 years.

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