ABC’s Stateless has been a passion project for co-creator and co-executive producer Cate Blanchett.
But even for Marta Dusseldorp, who has a supporting role in the miniseries, it’s been a long time coming.
“Cate’s a really dear friend of mine and we’d been talking about it for close on seven years,” she tells TV Tonight.
“I also went to Villawood when I was younger, and supported, as much as I could with (author) Linda Jaiven, who was doing a lot of work there at the time.
“It’s something I’m really passionate about.”
“In my role as a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR I’ve been to Uganda, Jordan, Lebanon, mainly visiting Syrian refugees, but also Congolese refugees. It’s something I’m really passionate about.”
Stateless is described as a series about four strangers whose lives collide at an immigration detention centre in the middle of the Australian desert. It is inspired -in part- by the true story of Cornelia Rau, a German citizen and Australian permanent resident who was unlawfully detained for a period of ten months in 2004 as part of the Australian Government’s mandatory detention program.
In Stateless Yvonne Strahovski (pictured below) plays the fictional Sofie Werner, but she is only one of several key characters.
“There are multiple perspectives. You’ve got a detention guard, you’ve got a bureaucrat from Canberra trying to hold down the situation. You’ve got an Australian resident who’s been mistakenly identified as a refugee and put into a detention centre. And then you’ve got an Afghani man who’s had to flee and loses his family.
“The product is really stunning.”
“Elise McCredie, the creator, has created this patchwork of identities and people with different needs and wants who all pull on this one hot moment that we’re all very aware of.
“It was a long time in the sculpting and massaging and it had a lot of development. Cate, Elise and Tony (Ayres, co-creator) worked really hard and I think that the product is really stunning.”
Filming took place in South Australia, in various parts of Adelaide, Parham and Glenelg, with the fictional Barton Detention Centre being built from the ground up in Port Augusta.
Dusseldorp explains how impressive the facility was as a filming location.
“I only had one scene there, but it was so authentic.”
“I only had one scene there, but it was so authentic. It was incredible. Speaking to the cast that were involved with shooting out there, they said it became quite claustrophobic in the sense that they returned to that same space. I guess that’s how the Wentworth girls feel. Even on A Place to Call Home we had our one set that we plugged into for six years.
“But it’s good, it gives it a drabness and also they were able to get great angles.”
Also featuring are Jai Courtney, Asher Keddie, Fayssal Bazzi and Dominic West.
Dusseldorp plays Sophie’s sister Margot, who struggles to know what to do once Sofie’s mental health declines and she goes missing.
“(Margot’s) hunting the whole time through the series, trying to find her. So in a way, she is the audience. That’s what I’m hoping anyway… so she’s really sort of the motor to get some kind of resolution. I was just doing an interview with Fayssal and he was saying that all the characters want the same thing: which is to be reunited with their families and get on with their normal lives,” she continues.
“Shooting-wise it was very distressing”
“But shooting-wise it was very distressing. I remember in one scene I get a call from (Sofie) finally and I think she’s going to tell me where she is and she doesn’t, because I trigger her the wrong way.
“The thing I love about Margot is she says the wrong things, as a sister. She doesn’t have all the answers. So the scripts are really complicated and so I enjoyed that part of it.
“I base it actually on my older sister Teya, she is the most compassionate caring, loving, older sister. I know for a fact that if anything like that ever happened to me, she would behave exactly the same way.”
Stateless airs 8:30pm Sunday on ABC.