Miner role cuts deep

Shane Jacobson had to un­earth trou­bling emo­tions to play sur­vivor Brant Webb in a tele­movie about the Bea­cons­field dis­as­ter, writes Fiona Byrne

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

HE is known for be­ing quick with a joke and his forte is roles with a comedic twist. But there were few laughs for Shane Jacobson in the film­ing of the Bea­cons­field tele­movie — one of the most con­fronting, tax­ing, but ul­ti­mately re­ward­ing projects he has taken on.

Jacobson and Lachy Hulme step into the shoes of Brant Webb and Todd Rus­sell re­spec­tively, the gutsy min­ers who sur­vived 14 days trapped un­der­ground when the Bea­cons­field mine in Tas­ma­nia col­lapsed in 2006.

Both ac­tors de­vel­oped a strong rap­port with the men whose fight for sur­vival cap­ti­vated a na­tion.

‘‘ Most of the time when you do a char­ac­ter or do a film, it is some­thing that has come out of the imag­i­na­tion, or off the pen­cil or pen, of a writer,’’ Jacobson says.

‘‘ But this story is not that. It is a piece of his­tory.

‘‘ When this (mine col­lapse) hap­pened no one knew where Bea­cons­field was. They knew some men were stuck in a mine in Tassie; they even­tu­ally learned their names; then we found some pic­tures; then we were shown the town, and we learned the name Bea­cons­field.

‘‘ Then we saw that iconic shot of the mine, that we all know so well, and 14 days later we were glued to our tele­vi­sions and Todd and Brant walked out of the cage.

‘‘ What this project does is fill in the blanks of what hap­pened in those 14 days.’’

Jacobson says im­mers­ing him­self in the liv­ing hell Webb en­dured while trapped un­der­ground for two weeks has had a pro­found ef­fect on him — more so than any role.

‘‘ It is over­whelm­ing. It has been a far greater emo­tional jour­ney than I banked on and Brant was amaz­ing. He al­lowed me ac­cess and was will­ing to talk through any sit­u­a­tion,’’ he says.

‘‘ He rang me half­way through film­ing and asked how I was go­ing with the emo­tional stuff.

‘‘ I said ‘ I will be hon­est, mate: I am strug­gling with some of the emo­tional stuff. I don’t know how you did it.

‘‘ ‘ I am sit­ting un­der some foam rocks and I am sur­rounded by cam­eras and peo­ple that say, you have fin­ished your day, you can go home. I don’t know how you did it.’

‘‘ It is the only time of any project that I have ever done, and I have been per­form­ing since I was eight in one way, shape or form, that I have taken some of the story home.

‘‘ This role took a lot out of me and it has stayed with me. It was very tax­ing.’’

He says while much of the story fo­cuses on Webb and Rus­sell’s ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ence un­der­ground, the project also re­spects and high­lights the heroic feats of the res­cuers.

‘‘ These are men who left their fam­i­lies and went back down that mine to try and get their mates out,’’ he says.

‘‘ I am­not made of that stuff. These men, these su­per­heroes — there is no big red ‘ S’ on their chests; they can’t leap tall build­ings, but there are lives that have been saved be­cause of their ac­tions.’’

The Bea­cons­field pro­duc­tion was based in Vic­to­ria, but for the final three days of shoot­ing it moved to the town­ship of Bea­cons­field in Tas­ma­nia, with film­ing tak­ing place at the mine where the col­lapse hap­pened.

The fa­mous shot of Webb and Rus­sell walk­ing from the mine el­e­va­tor and tag­ging off was recre­ated by Jacobson and Hulme at the same spot.

Jacobson and Hulme lead a stel­lar cast, in­clud­ing Cameron Daddo, Michala Banas, An­gus Samp­son and An­thony Hayes. Steve Vizard plays 60 Min­utes re­porter Richard Car­leton. Bea­cons­field, Chan­nel 9, Sun­day, 8.30pm Tough stuff: Above, ac­tors Lachy Hulme and Shane Jacobson, and left, cast, crew and min­ing dis­as­ter sur­vivors Todd Rus­sell and Brant Webb.

Off­spring stars: Eddie Per­fect and Kat Ste­wart.

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