MURDER SHE WROTE
Hollywood has come calling for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Glamorous lady detective Phryne Fisher is embarking on her most exciting adventure yet: a feature film adaptation set in England and a variety of exotic locations around the world.
The makers of the show report strong interest in the screenplay and are scouring the globe for an internationally recognised star to join the cast.
Head writer Deb Cox says a feature will finally give their larger than life character the big canvas she deserves: “The same kind of tonguein-cheek adventures on the big screen that Indiana Jones has managed for three decades.
“There will be a UK shoot and an exotic location shoot, and Phryne will fly her light plane all the way, breaking aviatrix records of the day.
“Essie (Davis) is currently based in the UK so that also works well for her.”
The hit show returns this week for a third season. With an average audience of 1.5 million viewers, sales to 120 territories around the world and a growing fanbase, thanks to Netflix in the US, Miss Fisher has a level of brand recognition few other Aussie series can boast.
Every Cloud Productions has already turned down an offer from a Los Angelese producer to develop a US version of the series, in order to maintain the quality of the local version.
But Cox says they’d be “very interested” in the future.
“It could work beautifully in 1920s New York or Los Angeles,” she says.
Star Essie Davis also has a growing international profile, thanks in part to her role in the low-budget Aussie horror film, The Babadook, which drew rave reviews overseas.
On set at Rippon Lea Estate in Melbourne, Davis acts coy when asked about the film plans. “That’s top secret information,” smiles the actor, her signature black bob in stark contrast to today’s brilliant white tennis outfit. But she reels off her wish list for the film.
“There’s got to be horses, there’s got to be rickshaw chases, lots of building climbing, rooftop running, things like that.”
The 45-year- old says her favourite parts of the show are the action sequences, which last season saw her scale Parliament House, and this season has Davis performing underwater escape tricks and racing motorcycles.
But, she explains, they often have to curtail them due to time constraints. Each episode is shot in just eight days.
“I’m always pushing for more action, but you know there’s all kinds of risks they don’t want me to take and there’s budget issues,” she says.
“I would love to do a movie of this with the right budget … that would make it achievable to look as brilliant as James Bond. But, I mean, we do achieve an incredible amount on the smell of an oily rag.”
Davis is by her own admission “incredibly ambitious” and still feels let down by The Babadook’s failure in Australia, where it took just $258,000.
Made for just $2.5 million it was embraced overseas, picking up more than a million each in the US and France and more than $2 million in the UK, as well as a swag of awards. “It’s a bloody bushfire in the rest of the world. In Australia, I have friends who go: ‘Oh, yeah, when’s that coming out?’
“I think it’s all to do with advertising and who knew about it, and I don’t think that side was very well handled in Australia.” Miss Fisher: The Movie is unlikely to suffer that same fate, if only because of its ardent fans, who mounted a huge campaign to have the ABC renew it after the national broadcaster dithered for a year, reportedly due
to budget cuts and a desire to chase a younger audience.
Season three offers a new and unique world in each episode, from vaudeville magic in the opener to astronomy at the Botanic Gardens’ observatory and today’s Great Gatsby-like tennis episode. Fisher’s estranged father (Pip Miller) returns from overseas to create trouble, and Dot (Ashleigh Cummings) takes on a Watson-like role to Miss Fisher’s Holmes.
“At times she’s on even ground with Phryne in terms of investigating,” the 22-yearold explains.
In real life, Cummings looks up to Davis, seeing her as both a mentor and a friend.
“She’s one of the most important figures in my life, and I’m very lucky to have that relationship with her,” she says.
“It’s really wonderful to see that despite the immense hours she has to work, and how exhausted she is, while raising her two young daughters, she still has such dedication to the work.” Cummings is passionate about the series, revealing she moved frequently as a child and has a nomadic existence as an actor.
“This has been the most consistent thing I’ve ever had and on a very personal level I was kind of devastated to think it wouldn’t go ahead,” she says.
So the fans should probably start campaigning now for season four?
“Yes please!” she laughs.
“I would love to do a movie of this … (and make it) look as brilliant as James Bond”
ESSIE DAVIS ON THE MOVIE VERSION
MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES, ABC, FRIDAY, 8.30PM
Essie Davis and Grant Piro in the third series (top right); with Ashleigh Cummings (above).