Gun for hire

Marta Dus­sel­dorp is once again grap­pling with grief as Janet King re­turns, writes

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

EVEN with­out wear­ing her crown pros­e­cu­tor’s wig this sea­son, Marta Dus­sel­dorp as Janet King seems bul­let­proof.

In the ABC’s thrilling le­gal drama, which re­turns for its se­cond sea­son, she will need to be, step­ping up to lead a Royal Com­mis­sion into se­ri­ous firearms crime.

With the plot torn from the head­lines, the ac­tion starts in a blaze of gun­fire; trig­ger­ing flash­backs for the un­usu­ally frag­ile King, who, it is re­vealed, is griev­ing the mur­der of her part­ner, Ash.

Throw in the melt­ing pot of multi-cul­tural Syd­ney, the chal­lenges of sin­gle par­ent­ing as a work­ing woman and the push-pull of seiz­ing power in a male-dom­i­nated work­place and au­di­ences are well ad­vised to buckle up for an­other emo­tional ride with Ms King.

For Dus­sel­dorp, who earned wide­spread ac­claim for her heavy per­for­mance as wid­owed nurse Sarah Adams in Fox­tel’s re­vamped pe­riod drama A Place To Call Home last year, the back-to-back pro­duc­tions proved har­row­ing to film.

Mak­ing light of the dark themes, she tells TV Guide: “I’ve shot it all, now it’s your turn to cry!”

Us­ing her own pain as a way to con­nect with view­ers, Dus­sel­dorp ex­plains that emo­tional pay-off is what keeps her mo­ti­vated.

“That’s why you do it, to af­fect the au­di­ence and help them iden­tify with their own grief. As hu­man­ity, we have such com­pas­sion for each other when emo­tions are shown but you also have to earn it [as an ac­tor],” the 42-year-old says.

Bury­ing her hus­band on Place, now in­ves­ti­gat­ing the killing of the mother of her two chil­dren in King (not to men­tion the roller-coaster of dat­ing Guy Pearce in ABC’s Jack Ir­ish), Dus­sel­dorp has been called on to draw from a very per­sonal well of emo­tion.

A reser­voir of tears, she ex­plains, which first sprang from the death of her baby brother Yoris when she was just nine.

“Any­one who’s ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing acutely when they’re young, it opens them to the pos­si­bil­ity that the earth can shake and you aren’t safe. So from a young age, I un­der­stood it was pos­si­ble that the story wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to be what I wanted it to be. In that, it means it cracks your imag­i­na­tion maybe faster or more acutely,” she says.

It adds a real depth and au­then­tic­ity to her per­for­mances, show­cased to full ef­fect in the lat­est se­ries of King.

“You start to cry more when you re­alise just how deeply rooted grief can be when it’s not prop­erly stored, or worked through,” Dus­sel­dorp says.

While the emo­tional work­load was great, Dus­sel­dorp also took on the added cre­ative re­spon­si­bil­ity as the show’s as­so­ciate pro­ducer.

With King also as­sum­ing her new lead­er­ship role, Dus­sel­dorp says she rev­elled in the new theatre of play warfare.

“I loved not be­ing in the wig … there’s the heat fac­tor but it’s also just a dif­fer­ent arena. We’ve got a com­pletely dif­fer­ent colos­seum and it’s as smart and savvy and sav­age, but it’s just a dif­fer­ent sys­tem of our law that I think peo­ple will be in­ter­ested to know about.”

JANET KING

ABC, THURS­DAY, 8.30PM

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