Gun for hire
Marta Dusseldorp is once again grappling with grief as Janet King returns, writes
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.”
ABC, THURSDAY, 8.30PM