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.
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