A de­tec­tive’s de­mons

The ghosts of the past are haunt­ing a good cop in the new ABC tele­movie The Bro­ken Shore. Guy Davis speaks with its star, Don Hany.

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Po­lice de­tec­tive Joe Cashin was once “a good op­er­a­tor”, in the words of Don Hany, the ac­tor who plays him in The Bro­ken Shore, an ABC TV adap­ta­tion of the ac­claimed crime novel by Peter Tem­ple, the au­thor of the Jack Ir­ish se­ries.

But that was be­fore a botched raid in Mel­bourne left Joe phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally wounded, and he’s now re­turned to his home­town of Port Monro on the Vic­to­rian coast, where work­ing as a cop is less ful­fill­ing but a lot less event­ful.

Of course, that’s be­fore a wealthy lo­cal is found beaten to death in his home and be­fore the sub­se­quent deaths of the three young Abo­rig­i­nal men ac­cused of com­mit­ting the crime.

The case is con­sid­ered closed, but some­thing about it doesn’t sit well with Joe, whose own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the crime un­cov­ers a new list of po­ten­tial sus­pects.

That in­ves­ti­ga­tion, how­ever, is ac­com­pa­nied by a num­ber of rev­e­la­tions about Joe’s own tragic past, and it’s un­cer­tain whether he’ll be able to deal with the reper­cus­sions of th­ese se­crets com­ing to light.

Hany is sur­rounded by a top- shelf Aus­tralian cast in The Bro­ken Shore, his co- stars in­clud­ing Claudia Kar­van, Noni Ha­zle­hurst, Cather­ine McCle­ments, An­thony Hayes and Packed to the Rafters’ Erik Thom­son to name just a few.

As much of a draw­card as work­ing with th­ese ac­tors was, Hany says he was equally at­tracted by the tal­ent be­hind the cam­era, such as

Hany: “Be­ing home feels like this painful re­minder that he’s done noth­ing

with his life.”

di­rec­tor Rowan Woods ( Rake) and es­pe­cially screen­writer An­drew Knight, who he calls “one of the best in Aus­tralia”.

But it was Tem­ple’s source ma­te­rial that gave Hany plenty to work with. And he was fas­ci­nated not only by the cen­tral mys­tery and the com­pelling, com­plex char­ac­ter of Joe Cashin but also the themes run­ning through the story – the grad­ual so­cial ero­sion of “places that are slowly eat­ing them­selves”, the ghosts of the past haunt­ing lives in the present, the some­times ugly truths lurk­ing be­hind a calm and pleas­ant fa­cade.

Bring­ing Joe to life proved an in­vig­o­rat­ing chal­lenge for the ac­tor, who gives the char­ac­ter a wry, la­conic sense of hu­mour that off­sets the per­sonal and pro­fes­sional shad­ows hang­ing over him.

Hany ad­mits he was con­cerned about tak­ing on a char­ac­ter with the weight of the world on his shoul­ders, the type of char­ac­ter he has por­trayed well in the past, for fear of ap­pear­ing “onenote”.

But he found Joe rep­re­sented some in­trigu­ing traits, ones that would be worth­while flesh­ing out.

“Joe is a char­ac­ter with a lot of po­ten­tial who has lost his con­fi­dence,” he said.

“You see how things could have been for him but he’s fallen off the horse, men­tally and phys­i­cally. He’s ques­tion­ing his whole jour­ney up un­til this point, and be­ing home feels like this painful re­minder that he’s done noth­ing with his life.

“There’s some­thing in that is very com­mon to Aus­tralians, it seems – we’re all seek­ing some kind of ex­cite­ment or ful­fil­ment away from where we’re from.

“Joe’s a com­pas­sion­ate guy and a driven guy but there’s this feel­ing that be­ing a cop is viewed as some­thing un­de­sir­able. But he’s got a nat­u­ral cu­rios­ity about peo­ple, and a strong, con­sis­tent code of ethics. And he en­joys his work. In this story, he’s the straight man un­til it’s time to act.”

The Bro­ken Shore, Sun­day, ABC1, 8.30pm

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