The Twelve “as close to theatre as I’ve ever gotten.”

With stage actors and scenes filming for 20 minutes, The Twelve was a very theatrical experience for Marta Dusseldorp.

Foxtel’s new legal drama The Twelve has one of the biggest ensembles every assembled for a television drama, many of whom have been drawn from theatre.

But the 10 part series was also executed theatrically for its lengthy courtroom scenes.

“It took me a long time to learn because we were in court sometimes for 20 pages, and we played it as theatre. So it’s as close to theatre as I’ve ever gotten,” Marta Dusseldorp tells TV Tonight.

“But they are they are some of the best theatre practitioners in Australia.

“We had takes that went for 20 minutes.

“We always did the wide shots as one. Sometimes we’d break up the close-ups because of a reset, but when I was grilling a witness, someone on the stand, it was for real.”

The series marks Dusseldorp’s return to a legal drama, having led ABC’s Janet King, a spin-off from Crownies, for 3 seasons.

In The Twelve she returns as a Crown Prosecutor in Lucy Bloom, with a woman (Kate Mulvany) on trial for the murder of her missing niece. But the series views the trial through the eyes of the jury who all bring with them their own histories.

“I found this to be very different and I’ve aged a lot since then. I think this character is really grown up. I love her. I really got into the legal minutiae and became quite obsessed with how to make it as dramatic as possible, without being disbarred,” she teases.

“Going toe to toe with Sam Neill was really extraordinary.”

“Going toe to toe with Sam Neill was really extraordinary. He’s cheeky, he’s honest, he’s such a good actor. So that was a real delight for me.”

The Twelve is based on European drama De Twaalf which Dusseldorp says she viewed prior to production. The Australian adaptation was penned by Sarah Walker, Bradford Winters, Leah Purcell, Anchuli Felicia King, Tommy Murphy and Greg Waters.

“I thought it was completely different. Foxtel really invested in development,” she continues.

“What we miss in this country is proper development”

“They spent a year on it before (filming). What we miss in this country is proper development -enough time for nuanced scripts. Get enough writers, enough authentic voices. So the scripts were really bold and were already humming when I read them. I thought, ‘This is gonna be fantastic and it will be uniquely Australian, but will fit inside the English-speaking market.'”

According to Easy Tiger producer Ian Collie, there was other interest in an English-speaking adaptation.

“The rights came through Warner Brothers, Australia. It was a Belgian company who did the original (which is on) SBS on Demand. Eyeworks, I think they’re called, are an affiliate of Warner’s, and really, a lot of it is ta estament to Hamish Lewis, who approached Warner’s in the US. I think both the UK and US were all seeking the first English language rights for the format,” he said.

“Through his charm and persistence, he was able to get the Australian company to do it and then were brought on to partner with Warner Brothers, Australia to make the show.”

“We are daring, and we don’t have an ego as storytellers”

“I’m glad Warners brought it here,” says Dusseldorp, “because the feedback I often get from the storytellers that we are, is that we are daring, and we don’t have an ego as storytellers. So it’s not about glamour, it’s about truth. I really love that.

“I’m there for the truth of the argument as far as Lucy Bloom is concerned. So all care, no responsibility. Not a bad way to be!”

Dusseldorp is now at work on her own passion project, Bay of Fires which she is producing, and starring in, for ABC. Filming is currently underway in Tasmania.

“Right through the dead of winter on the West Coast of Tasmania!” she laughs.

The Twelve screens 8:30pm Tuesdays on FOX Showcase.

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