The Sydney Morning Herald talks Secret City with Anna Torv!
In her adopted homeland of America, Anna Torv is a geek goddess. She’s recognised by every sci-fi fan as Special Agent Olivia Dunham (and her doppleganger from an alternative universe) in 100 episodes of the classic series Fringe, which ended in 2014.
In her birthplace of Australia, a few viewers might remember her as Nikki Martel in The Secret Life of Us, back in 2004. But her local fan base is about to expand, as she takes on the role of crusading journalist Harriet Dunkley in Secret City, a political thriller starting next Sunday on Foxtel’s showcase channel.
Torv lives in Los Angeles, and when she returned to Australia last year to make the new series, she initially found it difficult to throw off the uptight Olivia and resume her Australian accent and attitude.
“I still don’t think I’m over it,” she told me last week. “It’s not like you do a movie and then you move on to another job and you shoot for a couple of months, and your body’s used to letting go and changing character. You do something for five years and it becomes so second nature, at a cellular level. You go on set again and it’s a conscious effort for me to not do an American accent, not immediately go into what I’ve been doing 16 hours a day for the past five years. I think that’s the bit you have to work on.”
It helped that she got to film inside Parliament House in Canberra, as well as in a studio. Secret City is based on the book The Marmalade Files, published in 2012 by political journalists Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis. “Chris and Steve took us around,” said Torv. “We were actually there during the [Abbott/Turnbull] spill. I found that fascinating, the difference between the parliament, where all the ministers are walking around and then all of a sudden you get up to the media floor and it was just so vibrant, so alive, just pumping with energy. I got speak to lots of people and to see what it is like to be down there. The air changes as soon as you step onto that floor.”
From that experience emerged her take on the character: “She’s an absolute truth seeker with just a whole heap of integrity and will stop at nothing.” The book was a satire that made sly digs at, among others, Bronwyn Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull (renamed and regendered). Torv says the TV series is much more serious. “It’s based on the book but we step away from it,” she said. “We certainly have a very different tone. The show that we’ve made is absolutely a thriller and is absolutely not satirical.”
Now back “just pottering around” in her “liittle place” in LA, she’s absorbed by American politics but not interested in any attempt to revive Fringe. “I have fond memories, it was a huge part of my life but I’m recovered, if that’s the right word,” she said. “We got the opportunity to close that show, knowing we were closing it, which was great. There wasn’t anything unfinished.”
But with Secret City, it’s only the beginning. Torv looks forward to making more episodes and learning more about Australian politics.
Secret City starts at 8.30pm on Sunday June 5 on showcase.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald