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From Mindhunter to Newsreader: Anna Torv on how she chooses her next role

Ahead of the ABC’s anthology Fires, Torv spoke to Guardian Australia about her nonlinear career – and the traumas compounding around us.

If every memorable actor has a signature, Australian actor Anna Torv’s would have to be her voice. To quote a friend after watching The Newsreader, “I really wish she would do a recording for one of those meditation apps.”

In the ABC series, which aired its first season finale on Sunday, Torv wields this voice with a theatre actor’s precision as Helen Norville: an 80s news anchor whose composure behind the desk has drawn comparisons to Jana Wendt.

“I did a couple of sessions with a beautiful person they’d brought in to teach the newsreading,” Torv says. “But what I learned is that the phrasing, and all that kind of stuff, comes purely through the autocue.

From the ashes comes the landmark drama series FIRES on ABC in September 2021

The ABC is proud to announce the must-see, epic six-part anthology series FIRES will premiere on Sunday, 26 September, 8.40p.m on ABC TV and ABC iview.

Watch the trailer now.

Inspired by true events, FIRES is a serialised anthology about the experiences of everyday people at the front line of the devastating fires of the 2019-2020 Australian summer.

Filmed in Melbourne and regional Victoria earlier this year, the series honours the experiences of the many people affected by these fires. It acknowledges the losses suffered and the ways people came together in the face of a devastating natural disaster.

Beneath the unfathomable scale of the fires and behind the images and the headlines were thousands of stories of people directly affected by the fires. Stories of heartbreak and loss, heroism, humanity, and community.

The series begins in Queensland in September 2019, at the start of the fire season, and continues as the fires make their deadly march south, burning out of control through NSW and Victoria until February 2020. Each episode is set in a different location as the fires spread and build to a terrifying onslaught across the country through Christmas and New Year.

As the fires grow in intensity and ferocity and threaten different communities, new characters appear, whose stories reflect the breadth of experience during Australia’s black summer. Through the episodes we meet volunteer firefighters, families who have lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones, people who have to make agonising decisions about whether to stay or flee; those escaping homes and once idyllic holiday destinations; and others who find themselves responsible for the lives of friends and strangers.

FIRES is co-created by Belinda Chayko and Tony Ayres. Chayko (Safe Harbour, Stateless) was also showrunner and lead writer, alongside Jacqueline Perske (The Cry), Mirrah Foulkes (Judy and Punch), Steven McGregor (Mystery Road) and Anya Beyersdorf (Eden). The series is produced by Elisa Argenzio (Lambs of God), with executive producers Tony Ayres (Stateless, The Slap, Glitch), Andrea Denholm (Wrong Kind of Black, How to Stay Married), Liz Watts (The King, True History of the Kelly Gang. Directors on the series are Michael Rymer (Hannibal, Picnic at Hanging Rock), Ana Kokkinos (Seven Types of Ambiguity, The Hunting) and Kim Mordaunt (Wakefield, The Rocket).

Production credits: The series is produced by Tony Ayres Productions (TAP), which is backed by NBCUniversal International Studios and Matchbox Pictures, for the ABC. Major production investment from Screen Australia in association with ABC, with support from Film Victoria through the Victorian Screen Incentive and Regional Location Assistance Fund. Distribution is handled by NBCUniversal Global Distribution. ABC Executive Producers: Sally Riley and Brett Sleigh.

The ABC is delivering improved digital experiences for audiences and is committed to providing content that can be accessed anytime, anywhere across our free and easy to use platforms.

Credit: ABC Australia

Anna Torv On The Women Who Shaped Her

The Newsreader actor reveals the tenacious women who have sparked her curiosity.

Helen Mirren
Any time there’s been a real lag in my career, or moments of “God, what is this that we’re doing?” I’d think of Helen Mirren. When I was at drama school, I’d see her picture in the front of different plays that we’d be doing, where she had been the first actress to take the part.

I remember when I saw Prime Suspect I was quite young but it had an impact on me. She was this sexy older woman, and I saw that and always had that feeling of like, “Oh, this is not finite. You’re going to be able to continue doing this in a real way, and in a fun and an important way for a long time. So don’t worry about the shit that you’re missing out on at 22.”

Susan Torv
My mother is an absolute go-getter. She never stopped. She just pushed us out of the house and encouraged everything that we were remotely interested in. She’s fiercely independent, sometimes to a fault. When I was at school, I was the only one with divorced parents in my class. And that was just how it was. She runs her own business. She never remarried.

Her main thing was giving us freedom. She was born in the ’40s, so comes from that school of thought where she wouldn’t want to be called a feminist. Yet she is the pinup; she’s been a small-business owner since I was five. She lives on her own, maintains every­thing. She’s free-spirited and feisty. Even though she doesn’t want to call herself a feminist, she absolutely raised one.

Trish McAskill
My agent, Trish McAskill, has shaped not just my career, but my life. I met her when I was pretty fresh out of drama school and she was the first professional person to encourage me to leave Australia.

On my first trip to America, I stayed in this really shitty little motel because I couldn’t afford anything else. And Trish was just on the phone, literally guiding me through from the other side of the world. When I got cast in Fringe, I didn’t have anything, not even a printer to print the contracts. Trish was on the phone to me that day saying, “I got it. Go to a petrol station.” I swear to God. She’s like, “Just go to the petrol station and stay there.” And I went and printed them there. We’ve been in the trenches together. I greatly admire her tenacity.

Grace Carmichael
My grandmother gave me a literary education. She was this intellectually curious academic woman who married a grazier, lived in Western Queensland, and was truly someone who just journeyed in her mind. When you met her, she seemed like the typical country, ex-schoolteacher mother, but then you’d read what was on her bookshelf and you realised that there was nothing prudish about her.

She never lost that burning intellectual curiosity. She taught until two weeks before she died. She taught me to embrace curiosity for curiosity’s sake.

The Newsreader airs Sundays at 8.30pm on ABC-TV and ABC iview.

This story originally appeared in the September issue of marie claire Australia, out now.

Credit: Courtney Thompson, Marie Claire Australia September 2021

The Newsreader is Anna Torv’s most joyous creative experience

A fog machine is quietly pumping “atmos” — the stale smell of cigarettes and a smoky haziness — through an extensive office set. Desks housing typewriters, push-button telephones and overflowing ashtrays are piled with papers and folders. Counters are stacked with newspapers, street directories and phone books. Fax machines whir in a space defined by wood-veneer panelling, dull-brown colours and a scuffed floor.

This is a commercial TV-station newsroom, but not as anyone today might recognise it.

Constructed in a disused chemical factory in Melbourne’s industrial inner west, the expansive workplace is the “hero” set for the six-part ABC drama, The Newsreader.

And in the fictional world of the News at Six team created by writer and producer Michael Lucas, it’s 1986. This is the year that space shuttle Challenger disintegrated, that Lindy Chamberlain was released from prison and the Chernobyl nuclear plant erupted. There was a bomb attack on Melbourne’s Russell St police headquarters and excitement about Halley’s Comet.

In January 2021, filming under strict COVID-19 restrictions, series director Emma Freeman oversees work on episode five in which alerts about an explosion in Russell St hit the newsroom. This coincides with co-news anchor Helen Norville (Anna Torv) giving an office tour to Val (Maude Davey), the mother of reporter and aspiring newsreader Dale Jennings (Sam Reid).


‘Last of Us’ HBO Series Casts ‘Mindhunter’ Alum Anna Torv

“The Last of Us” series at HBO has cast Anna Torv in a recurring guest star role.

Torv joins previously announced series leads Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as well as cast members Gabriel Luna, Merle Dandrige, Nico Parker, Murray Bartlet, Con O’Neill, and Jeffery Pierce.

“The Last of Us” series was first announced as being in development at the premium cabler last March, with the show landing a formal series order in November. Based on the video game of the same name, the series takes place twenty years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel (Pascal), a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie (Ramsey) out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.

Torv will appear as Tess, a smuggler and hardened survivor in a post-pandemic world. Torv recently starred in the Netflix series “Mindhunter” in the role of Dr. Wendy Carr. She is also known for her time on the Fox series “Fringe” as well as shows like “The Secret Life of Us” and “The Newsreader.” She also voice the character Nariko in the video game “Heavenly Sword” and the subsequent animated film.

She is repped by WME and United Management Australia.

“Chernobyl” creator Craig Mazin is attached to write and executive produce the series along with Neil Druckmann, a writer and creative director for “The Last of Us” video game. Carolyn Strauss and Rose Lam will also executive produce along with Evan Wells, president of game development studio Naughty Dog. PlayStation Productions’ Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan will also executive produce. Kantemir Balagov is set to direct the pilot, with Jasmila Žbanić and Ali Abbasi also attached to direct. The project is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television. PlayStation Productions, Word Games, and Naughty Dog produce.
Credit: Variety

Why you won’t find The Newsreader actor Anna Torv on social media

Ahead of her role in the new ABC drama The Newsreader, Anna Torv speaks about growing up on the Gold Coast, social media, regularly basing herself in LA for more than a decade – and coming back home.

By Genevieve Quigley
JULY 11, 2021

In her latest role for the ABC drama The Newsreader, actor Anna Torv
is transported back to 1986 as she portrays a glamorous newsreader with ambitions as big as her shoulder pads. But in real life, Anna’s time travel happened months before filming. Returning from Los Angeles to the Gold Coast in early 2020 as the first waves of COVID-19 were creating worldwide ripples, she was taken back to the mid-’80s.

“I grew up on the Gold Coast: we moved there in ’85 or maybe ’86,” she recalls. “When I got back last year, the country was in a bit of a lockdown, and it was reminiscent of what the Coast was like back then. There were families at the beach and outdoors. People were on bikes with their kids and surfing. It was really quite beautiful.”

Anna, 42, had been calling Los Angeles home, on and off, for more than a decade since scoring a lead role on the popular sci-fi TV series Fringe, which ran from 2008 to 2013. She’d only recently wrapped another job, playing an FBI consultant in the US crime drama Mindhunter, when the call went out for Australians to return home.

Mindhunter S3: Netflix And David Fincher Are Talking

It’s been revealed to us by sources close to Netflix that discussions between the streamer and David Fincher for a Mindhunter Season 3 are back on.

This is interesting to me as least because it did seem as though the show was done.

Back in January 2020, the show’s leads, Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv, were released from their contracts in January and the show was put on “indefinite hold” by Netflix.

All-star cast announced for ABC drama FIRES

Filming is underway in Melbourne and regional Victoria on the six-part anthology drama FIRES. Starring an international rollcall of Australian talent, the series is inspired by extraordinary accounts from people who survived the catastrophic fire season in Australia of late 2019 and early 2020.

Produced by Tony Ayres Productions (TAP), FIRES impressive cast includes Eliza Scanlen (Babyteeth, Sharp Objects), Sam Worthington (Avatar, Hacksaw Ridge), Richard Roxburgh (The Crown, Rake), Sullivan Stapleton (Blindspot, Animal Kingdom), Miranda Otto (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Homeland), Hunter Page-Lochard (Harrow, Cleverman), Anna Torv (Mindhunter, Secret City), Kate Box (Stateless, Wentworth), Helana Sawires (Stateless, Ali’s Wedding), Daniel Henshall (Defending Jacob, Lambs of God) and Noni Hazlehurst (A Place to Call Home, Ladies in Black). They are joined by exciting newcomers Ameshol Ajang, Stacy Clausen and Nyawuda Chuol in a true ensemble cast.


The Newsreader — Under the Spotlight There’s Nowhere to Hide

The Newsreader digs behind some of the most iconic stories of our time for an intimate, vital look at an era of great change.

In the maelstrom of a commercial television newsroom in 1986, Dale Jennings (Sam Reid, Anonymous, Belle) is a diligent young reporter, desperate to become a newsreader. Helen Norville (Anna Torv, Fringe, Mindhunter) is a notoriously ‘difficult’ star newsreader determined to build credibility. Paired together over three months, Dale and Helen will cover an extraordinary chain of news events— from the shock of the Challenger explosion, to the hype of Halley’s Comet, to the complexities of the AIDS crisis. From messy beginnings, a deep bond is formed that will upend their lives and transform the very fabric of the nightly news bulletin. This is a story of a grand, unconventional relationship in a world on the cusp of change.

The Newsreader is set in the frantic, busy heart of the of a commercial TV newsroom. Thanks to the dazzling immediacy of satellite images, by 1986, TV had usurped newspapers to become the world’s preferred news source. Leading newsreaders had become national icons. Lions of composure and masculinity, these newsreaders— always stately older men with God-like voices— drew audiences of millions every night. The Newsreader centres on the relationship between two very different characters, both outside the standard, masculine model of a newsreader, both determined to rise to the very top of the commercial news world.

Like Mad Men, the series examines the politics and power structure of one workplace as a way of interrogating an entire era. Like James Brooks’ classic film Broadcast News, the pace will be fast, and the series will embrace both the humorous and the tragic aspects of our characters. Avoiding painting characters as heroes or villains, The Newsreader will build an ensemble that sings with both tension and rapport.

Dale reads every paper cover to cover, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of news archives. But despite all that diligence, Dale doesn’t quite fit the brand. His voice lacks gravitas, he’s slightly stilted on camera… and he seems to be perpetually single. The carefully guarded truth is, Dale is also attracted to men. He’s only acted on this attraction once— with a boy at his school; an affair that was brutally exposed… an affair that Dale has dedicated his life to denying.

He knows that no achievement would reverse that teenage scandal more emphatically than ascending to the position of nightly newsreader.

But for all his hard work, all his dedication, he can’t get an opportunity to step up. He remains in a personal and professional rut. But then, fate throws him together… with newsreader Helen Norville.

She is as glamorous and outgoing as Dale is timid. In a bid to lift ratings, she was recruited in ’84 to sit beside long-time ‘king of news’ Geoff Walters (Robert Taylor, Longmire, Focus), reading some of the ‘lighter’ stories.

Off screen, Helen she has fast developed a ‘reputation’. If Dale is too gentle and passive to cut through, Helen has the opposite problem – she’s just ‘too much’: too emotional, too demanding, too opinionated.

Thrown together in the heat of the newsroom, this unlikely pair will navigate some of the most iconic stories of the time; from the sudden devastation of the Challenger explosion; to the misbegotten hype of Halley’s Comet; to the pageantry of the Fergie and Andrew Royal Wedding. And when their relationship becomes romantic… both of them can feel an unexpected, but palpable career boost. Their romance allays the simmering concern over Dale’s masculinity; and it lends Helen an air of stability, and respectability.

Over time, they become an undeniable duo, a ‘golden couple’ of news. But at what cost…? Over the course of six episodes Dale and Helen will go on a dizzyingly broad and unpredictable arc. Their relationship sits in the cross-hairs of so many of the key changes of the era— the emergence of the gay rights movement, the increased presence of women in the workforce, the rise of materialism, the spread of mass-media. Their personal story will play out alongside some of the most iconic news stories of the era, and The Newsreader will draw on real news archives to evoke the world as it was three decades ago.

Credit: eOne