Rake on the make

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TELEVISION - DEB­BIE SCHIPP

IT’S been a long wait for the sec­ond se­ries of crit­i­cally ac­claimed drama Rake, but Richard Roxburgh says his al­ter- ego, wom­an­is­ing rogue bar­ris­ter Cleaver Greene, hasn’t used the time wisely.

Rake and Greene burst on to screens in 2010 with eight episodes of tightly writ­ten and su­perbly de­liv­ered may­hem, and left view­ers beg­ging for more. The wait for se­ries two has been worth it. ‘‘ The writ­ers had a long time to get it right,’’ says Roxburgh, tongue firmly in cheek, as he chats over a burger har­bour­side in Sydney.

‘‘ About time they pulled their fin­gers out and wrote some­thing de­cent.’’

Roxburgh ( pic­tured) is firm friends with the writ­ers, and as co- cre­ator of the orig­i­nal se­ries, is the heart and soul of the show.

Hap­pily, says Roxburgh, the an­ti­hero hasn’t learnt a thing since the first se­ries, in which he drank and wom­an­ised his way through a mul­ti­tude of scrapes, got beaten up, bad- mouthed, kicked around and still man­aged to win un­winnable cases and de­fend the in­de­fen­si­ble – both in his pri­vate and work­ing life.

‘‘ Cleaver hasn’t learned any­thing, not that you’d notice,’’ chuck­les Roxburgh.

‘‘ In fact, he’s worse than ever. Very much worse this time. That’s why he’s so much fun to play.’’

Greene is al­ways one who bites off more than he can chew, and the Rake sea­son opener sees him in more hot wa­ter than even fans could imag­ine.

He’s in the back of a limou­sine, with a woman he re­ally shouldn’t be with, and the fact that their lusty in­ter­lude is be­ing con­stantly in­ter­rupted by her phone beep­ing with mes­sages is the least of his prob­lems.

His dal­liance with the fe­male premier of NSW, played by no less than Toni Col­lette, is one of his most ill- ad­vised moves ever ( or it would be, if he ever man­aged to lis­ten to any­one’s ad­vice), and sets up a story arc that res­onates throughout the sea­son.

For Roxburgh, it’s the added spice that sea­son two needed – and he’s rel­ish­ing it.

‘‘ What’s great this time around is the po­lit­i­cal el­e­ment it adds to the story,’’ he says. ‘‘ It was pretty clear that that was where we were headed last time around, and it works.’’

Roxburgh sus­pects peo­ple love his char­ac­ter ‘‘ in a love- hate kind of way’’, be­cause he is so flawed.

‘‘ He’s kind of vain and he’s a fool and he’s an ado­les­cent and he never grows up,’’ he says. ‘‘ But the thing about him is he is some­how still love­able.

‘‘ He said in the first sea­son: ‘ You know, I’ve never stopped lov­ing any of you’ to his women.

‘‘ And that’s true of Cleaver. I think he does love peo­ple gen­uinely.’’ Roxburgh snorts with laugh­ter. ‘‘ It’s just that he’s a real vol­ume man – he loves a lot of them.

‘‘ But what peo­ple love see­ing is bad things hap­pen to Cleaver . . . the worst things hap­pen to him . . . it sort of sat­is­fies this sadis­tic im­pulse and re­con­firms to them that you can’t get away with bad be­hav­iour.

‘‘ They want karma to bite him. Es­pe­cially women. The women who watch the show can­not wait for bad things to hap­pen to this guy.’’

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