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
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.