Joanne’s on a new mis­sion

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - DT/TV - JONATHON MO­RAN

AC­CLAIMED Bri­tish ac­tor Joanne Frog­gatt says it is a good thing so­ci­ety has reached a point where is­sues in­clud­ing sex­ual as­sault are ex­plored in TV drama’s.

Frog­gatt’s lat­est role in con­tro­ver­sial six-part minis­eries, Liar, sees her play a school­teacher (Laura) on a mis­sion to ex­pose the man who raped her, a renowned sur­geon named Andrew played by Ioan Gruf­fud.

While it was shot last Novem­ber, the story couldn’t be more rel­e­vant in the wake of the Har­vey We­in­stein scan­dal of sex­ual abuse and bul­ly­ing.

“Now as a so­ci­ety we are all talk­ing about it across the globe,” Frog­gatt tells DT/TV in an exclusive phone in­ter­view. “What is amaz­ing is that it only takes a few very brave peo­ple to speak out. The fact we are talk­ing about it is send­ing a mes­sage to so­ci­ety that this is not okay.”

In­stead of re­veal­ing Gruf­fud’s char­ac­ter as the rapist at the end of the se­ries, cre­ators Harry and Jack Wil­liams made the shock plot twist known on Mon­day night.

“Our show is en­ter­tain­ment, it is not there to change the world but I do feel it is a thriller with a real in­tel­li­gence be­hind it that poses in­ter­est­ing ques­tions,” she says. “Ob­vi­ously it is a fine bal­ance be­tween re­spect­ing a sen­si­tive sub­ject mat­ter and also mak­ing it an en­ter­tain­ing thriller. Ul­ti­mately it has got to be about ed­u­cat­ing our so­ci­ety and our younger peo­ple about what con­sti­tutes con­sent and how to have re­spect for our­selves and each other.”

Frog­gatt won world­wide ac­claim as Anna Bates in hit UK drama se­ries Down­ton Abbey, which earnt her a Golden Globe.

A sec­ond se­ries of Liar has been com­mis­sioned, al­though the Wil­liams broth­ers are com­mit­ted to other projects so it won’t go into pro­duc­tion un­til Jan­uary 2019.

“We all de­cided it was bet­ter to wait so we could make it re­ally brilliant,” Frog­gatt says.

“We want it to sur­pass sea­son one so un­for­tu­nately that means there will be a bit of a wait un­til sea­son two.”

Frog­gatt too has a full slate. She will be seen on the big screen in a num­ber of in­de­pen­dent Amer­i­can films and also the big stu­dio movie, Mary Shelley, in which she plays Elle Fan­ning’s step­mother.

She has also started her own pro­duc­tion com­pany and has three projects in the early stages of de­vel­op­ment.

“It just feels like a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion,” she says, in­di­cat­ing she would like to find a project in Aus­tralia, a coun­try she fell in love while film­ing Joanne Lees and Peter Fal­co­nio real-life tele­movie, Mur­der in the Out­back in 2006.

“Aus­tralia has such a big place in my heart. I am go­ing to have to find some­thing (a project) that I can switch (to make) in Aus­tralia.” Dou­ble episode se­ries fi­nal of Liar, Seven, Mon­day, 8.40pm.

Joanne Frog­gatt stars as Laura in Liar, and (left) as Anna Bates with husband John Bates (Bren­dan Coyle) in Down­ton Abbey.

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