MUR­DER SHE WROTE

Hol­ly­wood has come call­ing for Miss Fisher’s Mur­der Mys­ter­ies

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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).

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