Miss Fisher reels ’em in

Could a Christ­mas spe­cial be the last we see of that feisty Miss Fisher? Essie Davis spills the beans to AN­DREW FEN­TON

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS -

ESSIE Davis may be the star of one of the ABC’s most pop­u­lar TV se­ries – Miss

Fisher’s Mur­der Mys­ter­ies – but most of the 900,000 or so view­ers who tune in each week know lit­tle about her.

De­spite an im­pres­sive ca­reer – in­clud­ing win­ning an Olivier Award for A Street­car

Named De­sire in Lon­don, roles in fea­ture films Girl With

a Pearl Ear­ring and the lesser Ma­trix se­quels along with TV shows Cloud­street and The

Slap – Davis has re­mained rel­a­tively anony­mous.

“I think ev­ery char­ac­ter I do is com­pletely dif­fer­ent, so peo­ple don’t know that I’m the same per­son (in each role),” she sug­gests, over cof­fee and chai in the salu­bri­ous sur­rounds of the ABC cafe­te­ria at Mel­bourne’s South­bank.

“I’ve also never per­son­ally em­ployed a pub­li­cist or splashed my­self about. I do like hav­ing a pri­vate life.”

With her nat­u­ral strawberry blonde hair, she could eas­ily blend in most places. Of course, sport­ing Miss Fisher’s sig­na­ture black bob, which she is to­day, as it’s dif­fi­cult to grow out, is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

“The hair­cut is the big­gest prob­lem,” she laughs. “But most of the time I’m fairly un­coiffed and strangely un­recog­nised.”

Miss Fisher’s Mur­der Mys­ter­ies fin­ishes its sec­ond sea­son tonight with Christ­mas spe­cial Mur­der Un­der the Mistle­toe.

Miss Fisher has been one of the ABC’s most con­spic­u­ous suc­cess sto­ries, sold to 120 ter­ri­to­ries around the world – in­clud­ing France, where 3.5 mil­lion view­ers tune in to watch her ex­ploits.

De­spite this, ABC’s re­cent 2014 pro­gram launch was no­table for its lack of an an­nounce­ment about a third sea­son. Davis says they’d have to be film­ing “right now” to get the se­ries on air next year. “I don’t know if it’s go­ing to hap­pen or not. It de­pends on fi­nanc­ing – and on how many fans write to the ABC and tell them how much they have to have it!” she says, flash­ing a wicked grin.

To be strictly ac­cu­rate, tonight’s episode is a Christ­mas-in-July spe­cial, al­low­ing writ­ers to get away with a white Christ­mas in the Aus­tralian Alps.

Most of it was shot at the Montsal­vat artist colony in Eltham, which dou­bled for a chalet thanks to a wide va­ri­ety of fake snow.

“We had cloth, quilt­ing, bub­bles, flakes, we had salt and all kinds of lit­tle bits of stuff thrown over us,” Davis says.

“It was beau­ti­ful. Amaz­ing snow ma­chines which were very noisy so there was lots of ADR (di­a­logue dub­bing).”

De­spite a high body count the episode di­als some of the vaguely risqué el­e­ments back a notch in or­der to screen ear­lier than nor­mal: “It has a G rat­ing so the fam­ily can watch it to­gether,” she says.

That might even win the ap­proval of some tut­tut­ting Amer­i­cans who have ex­pressed their dis­plea­sure over Phryne’s thor­oughly mod­ern ap­proach. “I just wish Miss Fisher wasn’t such a tramp,” wrote one viewer on US stream­ing site Net­flix. “She gives it away like Hal­loween candy.”

Davis finds the sug­ges­tion Phryne is a woman of loose morals to be hi­lar­i­ous. “I think my morals are per­fectly … tight!” she says, break­ing off into peals of laugh­ter, be­fore adding the tele­vi­sion treat­ment is quite de­mure. “Not much is ac­tu­ally seen on screen – it’s all in your mind. How dirty is your mind?”

This leads into an anec­dote about how she got into trou­ble host­ing Play School. De­spite wear­ing a T shirt “up to here” she ex­plains, point­ing at a thor­oughly de­mure and mod­esty pre­serv­ing lo­ca­tion, “I got males say­ing my cleav­age was show­ing when I went like that,” she laughs as she leans for­ward to demon­strate.

Apart from her day job as a sexy su­per sleuth, Davis is also the mother of young twins. “It’s an in­cred­i­bly hard path to carve that bal­ance,” she says.

“(But) re­ally if it came down to pick­ing be­tween them and go­ing to work, I would pick them.”

Hus­band Justin Kurzel is also in the in­dus­try – the di­rec­tor of break­out Aussie drama Snow­town is in Lon­don prep­ping a high­pro­file movie ver­sion of

Mac­beth star­ring Michael Fass­ben­der and Os­car-win­ner Mar­ion Cotil­lard.

Davis says the life of a film­maker is even less cer­tain than that of an ac­tor but “when he’s on that pur­suit (of film­mak­ing suc­cess) is when he’s most at­trac­tive to me, and as much as both of us would like a stay-ath­ome part­ner to make our lives eas­ier and the chil­dren con­tent, we’d prob­a­bly kill each other! We adore each other in flight and love be­ing to­gether – it’s just al­ways a tricky bal­ance.”

MISS FISHER’S MUR­DER MYS­TER­IES: MUR­DER UN­DER THE MISTLE­TOE

SUN­DAY, 7.30PM, ABC1

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