“When I was offered it I thought ‘This is a story that should be told.’ I hadn’t really seen it in this country before,” says actor Ewen Leslie.
Some 18 months later the script for Fighting Season will hit Foxtel screens. The 6 part drama produced by Goalpost Pictures centres around a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan in 2010 who return home with a secret, and how they adjust accordingly.
As the promos illustrate there is a character death in the opening sequence.
“It’s about returned soldiers and how they adjust with PTSD and how their families adjust. But at the centre of it is a mystery about how this death unfolds,” he explains.
“I hope that the mystery element will help. In Safe Harbour it wasn’t about ‘Who cut the rope?’ SBS really plugged that question, but it didn’t matter. Anyone could have cut that rope. (Director) Glendyn put it really well, ‘By the time you find out who cut the rope it doesn’t matter. Because it’s been about a whole bunch of other stuff.’”
The cast includes George Pullar, Marco Alosio, Julian Maroun, Paul De Gelder, Sarah Armanious and Sabryna Walters. Rhys Muldoon, Lucy Bell, Lex Marinos, David Roberts, Camilla Ah Kin, Ching Po and Jay Lagaiai have supporting roles.
To prepare for the miniseries, Leslie trained in a 4 day boot camp with experienced soldiers, which he describes as a double-edged sword.
“On the one hand it’s incredibly helpful with 4 days of training with weaponry,” he continues.
“But on the flip side it shows you how completely unprepared you are to be playing the person you are playing. But the guys we worked with knew we had never done anything like that before and were really generous with their experiences.
“The main thing is building up a bond and camaraderie with a bunch of guys you have never met before, to portray a Unit on screen. And the other thing is, with the small amount of stuff we do, to look real.
“Some of the extras in the Afghanistan scenes were real soldiers. So you start the day feeling very embarrassed, doing it with guys who know what they are doing. But you get over that.
“I did it with 4 incredibly fit guys in their 20s! But it was really good.”
The series is created by Blake Ashyford and directed by Kate Woods (Looking for Alibrandi, Law and Order SVU, Nashville, Suits) and Ben Lucas (Wasted on the Young).
“The scripts Blake wrote were really good at revealing certain parts of this guy as it went along,” he continues.
“Captain Ted Nordenfelt (Leslie) is a career soldier who has been on a bunch of tours but he acts different to the other troops. To Jarrod (George Pullar) he is a mentor, but to another he is a disciplinarian. He’s a bit of a bully, but he also cares a lot about them and what they are doing.
“Slowly over the last few tours there has been certain behaviour that he’s been showing that is start to cause concern to Jay Ryan’s character.”
If Leslie’s run of recent dramas is anything to go by, Fighting Season will be one to see. His critically-acclaimed run as included Top of the Lake, Safe Harbour and the upcoming UK drama The Cry, set to premiere on ABC soon.
“I hope the audience really goes with the characters.”
Fighting Season premieres 8:30pm Sunday on FOX Showcase.