Real- life rock stars

Tasmanian mine dis­as­ter sur­vivors Todd Rus­sell and Brant Webb played an in­te­gral role in the tele­vi­sion adap­tion of their in­cred­i­ble or­deal, writes David Pougher

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - E GUIDE TELE­VI­SION -

LACHY Hulme and Shane Ja­cob­son had a price­less re­source as they filmed the tele­movie of the Bea­cons­field mine res­cue: the men they were play­ing.

Todd Rus­sell and Brant Webb, the pair at the cen­tre of the real- life drama, were con­stantly on hand to of­fer ad­vice and in­sights into a story that mixed astonishing courage and re­solve with tragedy.

Rus­sell and Webb were trapped nearly a kilo­me­tre un­der­ground in the rock­fall that killed their col­league Larry Knight on April 25, 2006.

Ini­tially it was feared that they, too, were dead but af­ter res­cuers, led by un­der­ground mine man­ager Pat Ball, heard the men’s shouts on April 30, a com­pli­cated and dan­ger­ous res­cue mis­sion was be­gun.

Trapped in a roof­less cage un­der hun­dreds of tonnes of rock that had some­how stopped just short of crush­ing them, Rus­sell and Webb had to wait un­til May 9 be­fore they were able to be freed in an op­er­a­tion that could have claimed not only their lives but also those of the res­cue team.

The story trans­fixed Aus­tralia and the world.

Hulme and Ja­cob­son be­lieve they have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the men they play – as well as to the res­cuers and the fam­ily of Larry Knight – to de­liver on the project.

And it helped that the ac­tors de­vel­oped a pow­er­ful bond with the min­ers.

‘‘ Todd stays with me in Mel­bourne and I stay with him in Bea­cons­field,’’ Hulme says.

‘‘ The great thing about Todd [ is] if I’ve ever had any ques­tions in re­la­tion to the in­ci­dent or any­thing about min­ing in gen­eral, he’s like a Wikipedia page.

‘‘ He doesn’t lie, he’s a hard­work­ing man, he’s a fam­ily man, he’s got a won­der­ful sense of hu­mour.

‘‘ He’s such a hero to ev­ery­one on the film be­cause he was so avail­able and present for any­one who’s got a ques­tion. He’s a won­der­ful col­lab­o­ra­tor.

‘‘ To be hon­est with you, I didn’t think we’d click. But we did straight away.

‘‘ In fact, I think one of the best things that has come out of the whole ex­pe­ri­ence

LONG WAIT: Lachy Hulme and Shane Ja­cob­son in a scene from Bea­cons­field.

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